Monday, February 28, 2011

We Have The Most Beautiful Sunsets!

Can I just say that I think we have the best sunsets here at the Open A Bar 2 Ranch.

Check out tonight's...

Love the reflection in the water from today's snow melt.

Do yourself a favor and click on the picture for a full screen view of it.

Behind the Scenes, Why Dan the Man Is Not A Photographer

For the life of me, I can't understand why it is so hard for Dan the Man to run a camera.

All that you have to do is point and shoot, right?

Well, this is what happens when he "points and shoots."

We are remodeling a guest room right now, so these are pics from that.

Just a tad blurry, okay more than a tad, the picture is extremely blurry.

Dan the Man: "Better do that one again, it's a little blurry."

Country Chicken Girl: *Rolls eyes* and says under her breath, "They are always blurry."

Upon very watchful eyes I carefully scrutinized Dan the Man's photo taking technique. I notice that when he pushes the shutter button, he is also pushing the camera down with excessive force. Ah ha!

Country Chicken Girl: "You don't have to push the button so hard! It's not like the button on the oven timer which you have to push really hard since it is a piece of junk (the oven and the button timer.) Just push the button GENTLY and hold your elbows close into your sides" (a trick she read about somewhere on how to hold a steady camera.)

Maybe I should tell him it's like shooting a gun?? Maybe he should even hold his breath. If I tell him it's like a trigger, maybe he'll be able to push it GENTLY!

Anyway, after I told him to push gently and hold his elbows against his body he took this picture. Better. Maybe there is hope for him yet.

Push GENTLY and don't push the camera down!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Man Dan Has A Blog, Dan's Digressions

Dan the Man, my husband, has started his own blog. It is called "Dan's Digressions".

I can never for the life of me remember the rules concerning quotation marks... Does the punctuation go inside or outside of the quotation mark? Ugh, drives me nuts...

Anyway, please check out Dan's Digressions. If you grew-up on a ranch, or have ever worked cattle, you will like his stories. Danny is a 5th generation rancher and is wanting to record his family's memoir. Believe me, the Manvilles have a whole book full of adventuresome stories! Danny's dad was a true rancher in every since of the word. I think he started riding horses and working cattle when he was two years old. Danny bought his dad a recorder so he could record some of his recollections. I really look forward to Bob's stories. I've heard some, but I know there are several more that I haven't heard.

Here are a few pictures I had on my laptop that I could share of the Manville Ranch in Walden, Colorado.

This is actually a picture taken on BLM land adjacent to the
Manville Ranch where they ran cattle.

Look at all these horseshoes!
This picture was taken in one of the barns at the ranch.

Here is Chris, Thomas, Chris' friend Travis and Skyler hiding behind Chris
in a restored buggy originally owned by Danny's great grandparents.

Up in the loft of one of the barns at the ranch.
Look at all these horse collars.
I should have counted all of them.
I think there were at least 50 or so.

I hope that you'll enjoy Dan Digressions and share it with people who you think will enjoy his stories.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Country Chicken Girl and Dan the Man Meet Miss America

Well, well, well... who says nothing exciting ever happens around here?

Actually, we never say that here at the ranch. Where there are animals... there tends to be excitement. One thing that is absolutely predictable is that animals are always unpredictable, which can lead to a little excitement now and then.

But that's not the subject of this post... I am getting off track.

I am talking about excitement that happens once in a life time. Excitement that is atypical and abnormal to experience when you are married to a rancher, live in the middle of nowhere, and hardly ever get to vacation or travel. Day in and day out, our lives are pretty mundane, predictable, ho hum, etc.

But for a brief hour or so, that was not the case on Wednesday afternoon.

If you missed the post about the BIG Miss America Congratulations card, you need to stop reading this post and backup and read this post before you continue or you won't know what I am talking about.

Help Us Welcome Home Teresa Scanlan, Miss America!

So we had the signing of the card at the winter farmers market and had quite a few people stop by to sign the card. Everyone loved it. It was beautiful! Thank you so much Spencer for your gracious donation. If you don't know who Infinite Graphics is, check out their website. They have any printed product and/or business advertising items you may need for your business or home! And if you need a BIG card for something, Spencer is your man!

Here's a picture of Spencer "reading" the card at his shop.

Hey Spencer, do you need your bifocals to read that card?

Spencer said while holding the card,
"You guys wouldn't believe how heavy this card is!
My arms are getting sore. Hurry with the picture!"

We were laughing so hard while poor Spencer was
trying to hold the card still for the picture.

So anyway, back to yesterday. It started as any normal day here at the ranch. Chores in the morning, then to work on what ever project is on the schedule for that day.

Yesterday, the project was to paint the guest bedroom which we are remodeling. Here we are, a typical picture of what we look like while we are working. By-the-way, that is a painting hood I have on my head since I was spraying paint. If you don't wear a hood, you end-up with a hair coloring job like Dan the Man's.

Me spraying the ceiling. Cute, huh?

This was the just of the morning. But the afternoon held something new for both of us. We were attending a press conference in Scottsbluff for Teresa Scanlan's, Miss America 2011, homecoming. Dan the Man and I were going to present THE CARD to Teresa at the press conference. We even had to get press passes for the occasion.

Here is a picture of the press pass.

After we got done painting, we ate lunch and got ready to go to town. I sure was glad I wore that spraying hood. It would be just my luck NOT to wear it and then have paint speckled hair to deal with before a press conference where I was making a presentation to Miss America! After my shower I must have tried on about 4 outfits before I chose what I was going to wear. Dan the Man even asked me to iron his shirt AND his jeans. He wanted to look his best as well.

I think we clean-up pretty good!

Remember the "BEFORE" picture?


I wrote a little "speech" of what I wanted to say to Miss America when we presented the card... so I practiced it over and over before we went and also during the 20 minute drive into town.

When we got to the Hampton Inn Conference Center, where the press release was to take place, the conference room was full of reporters and their cameras. Not FULL as in a presidential press conference, but FULL as in a press conference in Western Nebraska. I believe almost all of our news sources were there along with 9 News from Denver, the Lincoln Journal Star and a paper from North Platte.

Dan the Man and I felt a little out of place especially since we didn't know too many of the people who were there. I had spoken with the Miss Nebraska Organization people and had made the arrangement to present the card through them. We introduced ourselves to Dr. Scanlan, Miss America's dad, and waited for the big moment. While we were waiting I scoped out a person who I thought would be willing to take our picture with my camera while we were presenting the card. I don't know who I asked, but she said she would be more than happy to snap a shot or two for us. I gave her instructions on how to use the camera and left the camera in her capable hands. It seems like we waited a long time before Miss America was in the building. Just as we heard that she was coming down the hall, my camera woman brought me back my camera and said that the batteries were dead! Egads! Wouldn't you know it, I left the camera bag with the extra batteries at home.

The card before Miss America entered the room.
The one picture I took before my batteries died.

Miss America entered the room and people were taking pictures left and right. I was so BUMMED that my batteries were dead. We were first on the agenda so we were introduced and it was our turn to present the card. Dan the Man had it easy. He just went up with me and smiled real pretty! I pulled out my little speech and managed to stumble once because I didn't want to totally "read" it so when I tried to say it on my own I goofed it up a little. Oh well, I am human and it didn't really bother me too much. Miss America was genuinely surprised and loved the card. I told her we were really glad we didn't have to mail it because we were really having a hard time finding an envelope for it and didn't think we would be able to afford the postage on it.

With our turn over, the press conference went on. The mayor of Scottsbluff presented Teresa with a key to the city and then the press asked her questions. I think it lasted for about 45 minutes or so. After the questions we all had time to take pictures with Teresa. Well, all of us who had cameras with batteries in them. Thankfully, one of the reporters with Miss America said he would take a picture of us and send us a copy! Thank you Randy Henry of "On3 Photography."

After the press conference we told Teresa's parents that we would be more than willing to deliver the card to their house since it was a little hard to maneuver. They gladly took us up on our offer. So off we went to deliver the card. After dropping the card off at Miss America's house, we drove back to the ranch. We discussed how much fun that had been, from watching the pageant on tv to personally meeting and presenting the card to Teresa.

Then Dan the Man said something like, "well, now it is time to move on to the next non-profit for the farmers market," which is the local chapter of the Red Cross.

Yep, time to move on. We got home, changed back into our work clothes and worked some more on the guest bedroom.

Just another day in the life of one Country Chicken Girl and her man, Dan!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Help Us Welcome Home Teresa Scanlan, Miss America!

Wow, have I've got some exciting news to share.

I have had this in the works now for a couple of weeks and have finally got all the details taken care of and can finally share this newsflash!

For those of you who don't know, the newly crowned Miss America, Teresa Scanlan, is from my home state of Nebraska. But not only is she from my beloved Cornhusker state, she is from the same county, Scotts Bluff County. Actually her hometown of Gering, Nebraska is about 20 miles from where we live. Do I actually know her? No... but let me tell you that Teresa winning the title of MISS AMERICA has caused quite the excitement here in our little corner of the state known as the Panhandle.

Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011

As most of you know, I have organized the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market this past year. At each of the winter markets, we try to feature a non-profit organization that market-goers can donate to while they are shopping at the market. I have posted about several of them in the past.

Oh and by the way, you might like to know that our last organization, SKIPPER'S CUPBOARD, collected tons (not literally) of dog & cat food along with a total of $355.69 in cash donations. I will post about that very soon and share some pictures of Snickers and the market with you.

Anyway... back to what this post is suppose to be about.

I had heard on the radio a while back that the Miss Nebraska Organization would be responsible for the cost of Teresa's homecoming celebration. I immediately thought that the Miss Nebraska Organization would be perfect for an upcoming non-profit organization at the winter farmers market! What a perfect cause for the Panhandle residents to support.

At each of the markets where we feature a non-profit we usually collect donations from the vendors and compile a basket full of goodies to be given away to some lucky person who donates to the cause. In other words, if you donate to the cause, you get to enter your name into a drawing for a gift basket compiled of goodies from the market vendors. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do something other than a gift basket as a give away... I wanted something "special" for this cause.

Then the idea came to me, that we should have a BIG card, a congratulations card, for people to sign for Teresa. But, with the winter market not having a large amount of funds available for such things... I thought that it would be a great idea to have a local business donate the card. I called Spencer McMurtry who owns and operates Infinite Graphics in Scottsbluff and mentioned the idea to him. Spencer was very gracious and said he would be more than happy to donate the card! Thanks again Spencer!

This card is going to be BIG folks. We are not talking a "large" card, we are talking a 4ft by 4ft Congratulations Card. Not a poster, a real card, you know with a fold that opens up! My idea is to have the main artwork of the card be the signatures and congratulatory wishes from the residents of the Panhandle. We will have a rainbow of permanent markets available to sign the card and a lot of space for signatures.

We will present the card to Teresa at the press conference on Wednesday, February 23rd, time to be announced.

So, here are the particulars. The card will be available to sign at the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market on February 19th from 1-4pm at the Scottsbluff Hampton Inn Conference Center. Cash donations will also be accepted for the Miss Nebraska Organization to help pay for Teresa's homecoming celebration on February 23rd.

Please help us spread the word so that we have TONS of signatures on the card! I am sure that there are SEVERAL people who would like to personally congratulate Teresa for her accomplishment. What a perfect way to do so! Let us also donate to Teresa's homecoming! If you would like to donate to Teresa's homecoming, but will not be able to bring your donation to the Winter Farmers Market on February 19th, you can donate directly to the Miss Nebraska Organization (you can click on the link.)

To become a volunteer/sponsor/donor for the Miss Nebraska Organization, please contact:

Jay & Amy Engel: Co-Directors
2220 Cedarberry Rd.
North Platte, NE 69101
Home: 308-534-3638
Fax: 308-532-6748

Janet Heinzle, President
2320 West "A" Street
North Platte, Nebraska 69101

Hope to see you all at the market!! You can follow details of the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market on Facebook.

Be sure to "like" Infinite Graphics on Facebook in show of your appreciation for their generous donation!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cold Morning Chores

The other day someone posted this on Facebook.

BREAKING NEWS: There will be no ranches closed due to the WEATHER.
Every rancher will be out in the blistery cold, blowing wind & snow tending to their livestock. They will be praying for machinery to work, non-frozen water pipes & the safety of their livestock. Say a prayer for them today so the prayerline may grow for our farmers & ...ranchers to be safe! Repost for those farmers and ranchers you know.

"No kidding" I thought to myself. We had a cold spell this last week and are extremely grateful that it is over.

Some people think that the life of a cowboy is in it's own way glamorous, picturesque, idyllic...

Such people have never been on a working ranch during adverse weather. What most people with these crazy ideals don't realize is that there is never a day off at a ranch or any operation that deals with animals. No vacations, no federal holidays, no snow days, no nothing...

Guess what? The animals still need to be taken care of first and foremost. And they can't do it by themselves, especially when the weather is bad. It's not that the animals are totally dependent on the human race, that is far from the truth. They would more than likely survive just fine if they were left to their own devices in their own habitats, but when you move them into a man-made habitat, a man must intervene to make sure that the man-made implements are in working order. For example, a water tank. If that is the cattle's only source of water, the man must be available for repairs, because a cow can not fix a broken tank heater.

People also forget that we are dealing with domesticated animals, bred for human use. If they are bred for our use, then we are responsible for their well-being. Plain and simple. That means constant care 24/7.

So I decided to follow Dan the Man around with the camera so you could get a small glimpse of a morning he had earlier this week when the temperature was -21 and the windchill was even colder, like -30 something. Actually the day I followed him with the camera was a little warmer... but the previous days were well below zero.

Whew, that took forever to load all those pictures, but the story would not be complete without them.

First chore, the first stock tank.
The day I had the camera, it was not frozen.
The previous day it had been so Danny had to break up the ice into chunks and then
take them out before he could fill the tank. We do have a water heater in this tank,
but when the weather gets below 0 degrees, it can't keep up.

Fill 'er up.
Brrrrr... it's cold out here!
Water looks like it is icing as fast as the tank is filling.

Pump booster wasn't working properly so a trip down into the well house was in order to flip
a switch that had tripped.

A few of the cows who had come into the corral to drink,
versus going down to the creek to drink.

Checking stock tank #2.
This one had also been frozen the previous days before.

Breaking up the bales that were set out for the calves.
This requires taking the strings (bale twine) off the bales and separating the bale.
Uhhh, oh ya, the strings are frozen to the ground and so is the hay.

Some of the calves enjoying their nice green hay.
The cattle burn more energy when it is cold out, so you need to feed them more
to help keep their energy up to help keep them warm.

If you don't supplement their feed during the cold spells, they will start to burn their fat
in order to keep warm. That is something we don't want them to do.

Pulling more twine.

Taking time for a little petting.

More twine pulling.

Off to the tractor, hope it starts. That's why we plug it in. Just like your vehicle.

It started!
This is a good thing!!

Back out of the tractor, it's just warming up.
We'll use it in a bit to feed the cattle.

Time to feed the chickens.
The feed is getting low so now we have to climb the ladder and haul the feed out of the box.

Taking the buckets down.

Hauling the buckets full of feed to the egg layers' coop.

At the coop.
Knock, knock...
Pizza, er, feed delivery for Gertrude and the girls!

Anyone want to go outside for a little fresh air?
Opening the chicken door.

Filling the feeder.

Yum, Yum!

Some of the chickens have already been busy.
Happy hens = lots of eggs.
That is why we have a fully insulated coop complete with heat and lights on a timer.

Water boy...
Faucet closest to the coop is frozen.

Faucet furthest from the coop is not frozen.

Back to the coop.

Still heading back, trying not to slosh water every where.

STILL headed back.

Putting the lid on the water.

Not sure they want to venture out.

Thinking about leaving the coop, but not for very long!

Back to the tractor which is warmed-up now.

Getting a bale for the cows.

Opening the gates to the pasture.

Be nice to have electric gates that would open with a remote so you don't have to crawl
in and out of the tractor so much.

Actually, the gates work just fine when the wife gets out of the tractor to open them!
But I was busy with the camera, hee, hee!

Back in the tractor.

Probably should wash the window when the weather gets nice.
Mud on the windshield from the previous week when the temps were into the high 50's!

That's me taking a picture of me taking a picture!

Breaking the bale open.

Cows always want to help.

Danny takes time to pet Mrs. Cupcake.

Someone, can't tell who, tossing the hay around to get to the middle of the bale
where all the yummy alfalfa leaves are hiding.

Murphy Moo enjoying the hay.

This little girl (#964) here in the foreground is Murphy's calf from 2009,
behind her is her little brother (#073) that was born this year.
You sure have cute children Murphy!

Fixing some electric fence.

More fence tending.

Time to tend to the house water problem.
Frozen pipes.

Danny loves crawling around under the house.

Crawling further back...

You back there Danny???

If I zoom in I guess I can still see you.

Animals taken care of... check.
Water taken care of... check.
Hot tea to warm up... check.
Daddy's girl on daddy's lap... check.

How many more days until Spring?

At least we are not calving during this weather like some people are!!!