Our First 4H Fair Experience

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Last week we spent five full days at the Siskiyou Golden Fair supporting Francie as she showed her first steer, TImmy. She worked really hard all year to choose him from our herd and purchase him from us with a loan, buy his feed and work on the best rations as he grew with her Dad, halter train him and walk him everyday, learn how to groom and fit him and all about 4H Showmanship with her Fort Jones 4H Club and awesome leader, Karin.

We took Timmy to the fairgrounds Tuesday night and stayed until Sunday evening after the livestock auction. We camped out in the RV lot and were up before the sun everyday to clean stalls and feed and water Timmy. Francie was 100% responsible for all of his care (parents can't be hands on!) but we were there to support and encourage her and we loved the chance to watch her and her club in action. 

Francie placed 4th in her group in Showmanship and earned a pink ribbon - she was SO THRILLED to get a ribbon! Timmy placed 4th in his weight class for market which we were all really impressed with too! 

Francie walked Timmy into the Livestock Auction ring Sunday morning and he was sold to our local vet Dr Amy and her veterinary practice. It's a bittersweet ending but as Francie said "we bred him and I raised him and fed him to be really good meat. I'd rather see him have a purpose and feed a family than get old and sick and end up in the dead pile."

We are all so thankful for this experience and can't wait to do it again next year... and all the years in the future with all four Marys!

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Cousins and 4H experts Ellie and Kate came to visit with Oma and stayed to help Francie the second half of the week!

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And after a few 5am wake up calls and full days of barn duty and fair FUN and late night card games with her club-mates, Francie fell fast asleep under the camp trailer for a good long afternoon nap!

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Francie all cleaned up in her 4H whites and Timmy groomed and fitted for the show ring. We were so nervous for her but she did fantastic! (especially since the practice ring a few days earlier did NOT go well and Timmy was such a bull he had her in tears coming out.) Everyone was thankful he behaved himself and she showed him who was boss in the showmanship class. 

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Proud Momma and a very proud 9 year old with her first hard earned ribbon - 4th place!

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And this sweet moment coming out of the show ring between Dad and Daughter still gets me a little teared up!! I've never seen him nervous about anything but he was sweating bullets for her. Lots of relief and excitement coming out of the ring for her first time!

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And a recap of the week in a little video of our first 4H experience. Love these kids and so loved watching them work together in kindness and camaraderie all week. Thanks Fort Jones 4H and the Siskiyou Golden Fair!

Catching Up

Wow - I used to blog religiously, almost every night... with photos of my baby girls and our daily adventures and business goings ons and way-too-much-information about a whole lotta not-that-exciting stuff! And then Instagram came along and then a few more baby girls came along and then more businesses... and THEN a pick up and move to be ranchers full time happened. And somewhere in there I stopped documenting our daily life here!

But I kinda want to change that. I'm not going to try to commit to anything because I'm pretty sure it won't happen as I see it in my head, but I really want to come back to this space to document life again - our life on the ranch. It is busier and crazier and O-M-G-did-that-just-happen every single day and Instagram gives me a pretty great platform to "micro-blog" a few times a day - but I love the ritual of blogging/recording on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. I kept a hand written journal every single day from when I was 13 until I was 25. My Dad gave me a daily ledger and I filled one page a day with what I did that day, nothing too deep just what was filling my time. I love looking back at those! 

So while not making any promises (and really who reads blogs anymore anyway!?) I'm going to document a little more of our daily adventures on the ranch here. The crazy days when things go sideways and the awesome days when it all goes right and the days in between too. Maybe ;) 

Special days like THIS when we get all dolled up for our 10 year anniversary celebration photos (I will blog these!) 

and normal everyday days on the ranch feeding pigs and doing chores (and covered in dirt).

and the crazy days when we have bottle feeder baby animals in the house. :) 

and everything in between!

Why Are They All Named Mary?!

I get asked often WHY we named all four of our girls Mary... there is a long history of strong Catholic women named Mary on both sides of the family and Brian and I wanted to carry on the tradition with our first daughter. We honestly never thought about the fact we might have ALL girls but once we started there was no going back!

We didn't know what we were having when I was pregnant and I was sure it was a boy (but so thrilled when SHE was a girl!) and we named her MaryFrances Borchard after Brian's grandmother who had just passed away, her name was Bernice Borchard (and apparently did not like her first name!) but had a sister named Frances and my great grandfather was also named Francis. We loved the name and decided to call her Francie honoring strong family members on both sides of our families and Francie is just that.

Then Maisie came along - another surprise girl! and we named her MaryMarjorie Sheehy after my grandmother Mary Sheehy who died before we were married and her sister, our favorite Great Aunt Marjorie Sheehy. Aunt Marge cries every time she sees Maisie saying how much she looks just like her late sister, my mom's mother who was such a great lady! Maisie is lucky to have inherited the Sheehy girls pretty petite looks and sweet and loving personality too.

We kind of figured we'd have a boy next by the odds of it- but nope, along came another girl! Good thing we still had lots of Marys in the family to pick from. Janie is named after my Dad's mom MaryJane Simonson but we gave Janie my middle name so she's MaryJane Regan. I never met my dad's mom, she died young but I know she had a strong and sassy personality just like her namesake.

The fourth baby had to be the boy right? Tessa surprised us again rounding out our gaggle of girls! She is named MaryTeresa Katherine after my Aunt Tere (Teresa), Aunt Kathy my godmother who died and is greatly missed and Great Aunt Kate who died when I was pregnant with Tess. She's been affectionately called "Tiny" since birth or Tiny Tess which suits her small frame and huge personality well though!

And that's how we ended up the Five Marys 😊

Ranch Life Lately

We've been as busy as ever soaking up every minute of ranch life and keeping up with chores. The count is awkward changing between buying new animals, new babies being born and trips to the butcher or casualties of farm life, but right now I think we are feeding and caring for 350 chickens, 100 turkeys, 90 cows and 88 calves, 2 bulls, 36 sheep, 3 rams and 52 lambs, 6 pigs and 12 piglets (with more on the way!), 3 dogs and 4 puppies. There is never a dull moment around here!

here are a few of my favorite photos from the past few weeks.... 

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It stays light so late so we've been working later (and eating dinner later, sorry kids!) but the girls entertain themselves in the hay stacks, in the mud somewhere or building another fort.  

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Unpacking baby turkey poults is a team effort

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JJ doesn't waste any time

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Maisie helping to organize the old tack room. And it was backwards day at school.  

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Francie always finding an animal to catch and make a home for somewhere as a pet.  

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We call this JJ style.  

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And we actually got some rain in June! But of course I misjudged the stream and got a little STUCK.  

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The kinder and 1st grade classes came to the ranch for a field trip! 

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The girls got to camp out with Dad and The Moby one night while I was gone

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Summer weather is here so j get to break out my sidecar sippy cup! Tiny approves.  

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We had our first large litter of baby piglets! 

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Saying Goodbye to Opa

Brian's Dad, Tom Heffernan died last week on Monday morning. He had been struggling with Parkinson's Disease for many years and we know his soul is free and at peace now. 

Tom was a farmer - his grandfather Antone Borchard was also a farmer and kindled in Tom a love of the soil and the hard working spirit of a farmer. I know Tom was proud to know his eldest son also went back to the soil and is proud to call himself a farmer now too, I know I'm proud of him!

Here is a little video tribute to Tom, my farmer father-in-law. This speech always reminded me of him, it's the Paul Harvey speech from the 1978 FFA convention called "So God Made a Farmer."

We miss you Opa. Rest in peace. 

Catching Up Around the Ranch

Wow it's not as easy to keep up with the old blog up here living #ranchlife! I don't think I've been on my laptop in months - I have been keeping up with daily life via Instagram (on the side bar) but I'm still trying to figure out how to post those to the blog in an easier way. For now... Here's an update!

This guy is pretty happy and working his tail off to build up the infrastructure of our ranch for what we want to do. That mean a lot of fence building, fence fixing and water management running pipes and wells and pumps and WATER. He's doing a pretty awesome job at it all!

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We got our two Bulls delivered last week. We haven't officially named them but it's either Harry and Lloyd or Dozer and Ferdinand (so I can say that's my bull, Dozer. Get it? ;) they are beautiful animals! And we branded our M5 brand on them - very official. 

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We also got a new group of piglets - berkshires and red wattles. We will raise these ones for 'product' (as in bacon) - our breeder mamas are the GOS spotted pigs. 

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And our fall calving season is almost done. Our 68 momma cows have almost all had their babies. It's been so much fun to see! We've had three sets of twins and lost one baby early on. We are bottle feeding one of the twins in the barn but the others are all pretty happy and healthy (with a few fixes here and there)

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We finally got some RAIN!!! And pretty awesome rainbows too. 

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And rain on the ground means snow on Mount Shasta. The drought has been so bad the mountain was bare dirt a few weeks ago when the little bit of snow on there had all melted. 

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And we got a new pivot last week too!! This giant sprinkler will give us more pasture to farm and put our cows on and make a pretty green 'lawn' in the spot where we want to build a house someday. 

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Dixie is getting bigger and drives us crazy trying to cross the road to the 'action' everyday but the girls love her. We miss our MoosieBoy a lot, JJ talks about him daily. 

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Our turkeys are getting fatter. They might be small at thanksgiving so we might let them live to see Christmas. We have Bourbon Reds, Narragansetts and Royal Palms. 

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And we've got 4-5 roosters in the bunch of 130 chickens!! They sure are pretty - but as the girls say 'pretty useless'. They think it's funny that on a ranch the male animals are not as needed - the females seem to do all the work!! (Except their dad of course ;)

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And the big project right now is building new corrals. The old ones were beautiful with pieced together old wood and beams but a little too worn out to hold big momma cows and Bulls. Heff is remaking them all with metal pipe welded together. They won't be going anywhere!

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Our GOS or Gloucestershire Old Spots are almost big enough to breed. We are getting some farrowing huts for them hopefully soon since pigs gestation is short. 3 months 3 weeks and 3 days!

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We've had lots of visitors who are still hanging tough in the bunk house even with the temperature drops - everybody is so willing to help with chores, we love it!

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And the leaves are changing giving us a gorgeous show that's different everytime you look. We sure feel lucky to live here in this beautiful place!

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Jannie visits!!

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My mom came this week to celebrate the birthdays and get some ranch time in! It was SO great to have her here and we got lots of organizing and house rearranging done, her speciality! She got to help with some ranch chores and the girls got lots of books and Jannie time in. 

 

We we picked her up in Medford Tuesday morning and hit Big R for some ranch supplies! 

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Then home and a tour around the ranch. Pigs first and she took a picture of her five Marys ;)

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Tiny looking comfortable with Mercy Watson. We cleaned out the pantry to feed the piggies. 

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And cozy at home with Tiny's new book and blankie Jannie made her - blanket based on an old book called the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat. It's a great one! And this cute FARM book. 

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Tessa's birthday cake- adored by her sisters that's for sure. 

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Our neighbors came over for Tacos as tiny requested Taco Tueaday. We all sat out on the porch til late. 

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Then Wednesday after ranch chores a lunch date at Lalo's and visit to the Fort Jones museum. 

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And cake baking with Jannie for Francie's birthday Thursday. Funfetti wedding style was requested ;)

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Turned out pretty awesome!

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Sister love for our sweet SEVEN year old 

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And presents Thursday morning 

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We had to take Jannie back to the airport Thursday afternoon but first a DMV stop for her genius idea we ordered months ago - thanks Jannie!! Come back soon!!

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Cluck Truck

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We are working on turning an old truck that was on the property into a Cluck Truck for the chickens to roost in at night. We designed it on the fly but I think it is turning out great! Heff did the box on the dump truck part on back - it even has sky lights!! And the girls and I painted and painted. It is no small job :) we will add roosting poles inside, laying boxes and a feeding system tomorrow. Hope you are ready for real rotating pasture life chickens!

This was the truck before we started yesterday. Needs a little love but good bones. 

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The girls helped me paint. We started with red enamel spray paint. 

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But it wasn't covering enough and was a little too red do we switched to a can of barn red I bought for the pig structure Heff built but I forgot to get primer paint so it went to this project. 

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The girls took a break in the ranger at nap time. Francie erected a shade tent over it for them ;) tomatoes and goldfish crackers for snacks kept them occupied awhile. 

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Francie did a good job helping to watch her sisters so we could keep working all afternoon. 

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And JJ helped rip the wood siding. She's not sure how she feels about this. 

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Ahhh little kids and paint. There were a few long baths after this. 

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Heff built a strong frame around the existing sides and then added this plywood siding. 

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And Maisie worked SO hard with us out in the hot sun all afternoon. She insisted on finishing the paint job even all the way at the top. 

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She was covered in red paint but pretty happy to be helping. 

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Getting there. Paint done now for the roof

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There we go - even has skylights to wake them up in the morning!

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Good work Heff ;) part 1 is done!

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Moose

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We lost our sweet dog Moose today :( I was going to repost what I posted on Instagram but a screen shot is easier...

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He was such a good boy - he hung out by the house or on the porch and slept on the old couch on the porch every night. 

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He let tiny climb all over him... even stick her fingers in his nose!

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Sweet babies. Moose was only 10 months old and the most mellow lab puppy I've ever known. :(

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Buddies. 

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Moose helping me with morning chores. 

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And sleeping at the foot of the bed while the girls "camped" on the porch 

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He wasn't here long but was such a part of our family 

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Patrolling Tiny to keep her safe

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Good looking boy. 

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He got into mischief sometimes like all puppies do. But he gave us an easy time of it that's for sure. 

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Bavk when tiny was tinier 

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the first week in the bunkhouse back in February. He was already huge!

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helping me work ;) we still have his paw prints on the floor where he ran in when I was painting!

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girst dog I ever snuggled so much ;)

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I miss you MoosieBoy. ❤️

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We all do. 

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Be good up in doggie heaven. 

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The ranch won't be the same without your wagging tail to greet us home everyday 

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Cute puppy

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His first night home. 

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Love you boy. Rest in peace. 

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Heffernan Family Reunion

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Another awesome year at Black Butte Ranch for the annual gathering of the Heffernan brothers four and their families. It's quite a group - with lots of kids! Black Butte is a great spot for lots of family fun and we are so lucky everyone makes it a priority every year!

 

first night bunk bunk bed sleepover with Oliver

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Surrounded by little pink ladies

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Cousins in rainbow

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And the boys Oliver, Thomas and Patrick. 

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Cousins on the golf course

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 New bathing suits from Jannie!

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Ready to float the river

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Pizza picnic on the pond after the float 

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Earned it. 

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Octaball was a huge hit! Thanks to Opa Bob and Dan

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The oldest set of cousins - acting like teenagers already 😜 

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Such great family fun for all of us

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Beat her uncles in a round - proud girl 

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The littlest set, the two and almost two year olds

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Ellie a pie baking machine with Fort Jones strawberries and Oregon blackberries

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The group back from 5am fishing with A fish! 

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We only got one day of glaze meadow pool time in and it closed for lightning strikes after a few hours!  

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This crew serving up kids cocktails with Aunt Maureen's homemade grenadine and Uncle Mark's homemade pretzels

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Teams for the first day annual Olympics events! All boys on one team this year. Versus three full teams of girls. 

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Lined up at Auntie Otter Pops house for dinner

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Relaxing snd crowding around aunt Kat at our cabin 

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Love that Auntie OtterPop (and all those awesome Aunts!! Hi LaLa)

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Giving thanks... And thankful for this great big crazy family. I'm lucky to have married into it!

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Talent Show team - lots of great performances this year

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Patrick on the ukulele and Roman's homemade drums

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Geocaching award ceremony.... Competition gets hot!

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Mad rush for homemade pie at Opa Bob and LaLa's (Aunt Francy) - we are so lucky they host us all every year. 

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Walking home with a headlamp and babies in a bag. 👍

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Big girl sleepover party our last night

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And homeward bound til next year!

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Ranch Guests

We've been so lucky to have so many visitors at the ranch this summer!! Between 4th of July and last week I think we had almost 50 friends and family come up and most of them stayed for a night or two

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One weekend we had FOUR families at the same time! One if them was our neighbors from Los Altos and their sweet girls (Maisie's buddy Marisa here) and above with our old neighbors who also have four girls who are moving to Portland!

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And we got Emmy for 10 DAYS!!!

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Aunt Kat and Uncle Donald come up from Red Bluff or stop on their way from Oregon often too- always so much fun to have them and to talk cattle with Donald (he is a 6th generation cattle rancher). Kat is due with her third baby in a couple months too!

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The Keeley family came up for a weekend - it was a HOT weekend so we took a trip to the river and turned lots of sprinklers on. 

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So great to have good friends to share this place with!

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The Alticks stopped on their way home from Oregon with their girls and adorable baby boy Elliot. So fun to have a baby around

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And our LA heff cousins made a big move up to Portland snd stopped for two days between one house selling and the new house closing! We are so excited for them and their new farm in the PNW.

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The Henderson family stopped with their three kids too- they moved from Los Altos to Hawaii for a slower pace of life and were back visiting family on a drive up to a Oregon too. 

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We love having visitors - you have an open invitation to come up to Camp Heff friends!! ❤️

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Lots of Exciting New Additions to the Ranch!

We've got lots going on at Sharps Gulch Ranch!! We've been adding to our chicken flock raising the day old babies. After a batch of 50 rainbow layers that got delayed it transit and only 18 made it to 2 weeks old (!) they hatchery sent us another batch and then I ordered 22 turkeys with a trigger happy laptop hand (might have involved a sidecar) and 45 more baby chicks arrived with the turkeys. Oops! So the count now is 130-something chickens and 19 turkeys (3 drowned themselves the first night, not the brightest birds ;) I love my day-old chicks!

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New painted mailbox - it was faded red and silver and the address was worn off. I was going to go all metallic silver but Jannie voted all red. She won. Good call.

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New baby chicks in the nursery area next to the big coop. We will introduce slowly when they are big enough! Attempt 1 was not successful. Chickens are mean.

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Post Office pick up of 50 rainbow egg layers - batch 2. Much more successful (49 still going strong) 

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New pigs! We got four gilts who will be our breeders. They are Glouchester Old Spot pigs, a heritage breed - here are Baby, Mercy, Eugenia and Hillary. I could watch pigs all day long.

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A new "pool" haha ;) I got a big huge feeder trough at the garden center and brought it home as a swimming pool. It works great!

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Cabana for shade and maybe a cocktail for kid watching. Who needs more?!

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I picked up two pool noodles at Raley's and told the lady I was trying to convince my kids a horse trough was a pool. It pretty much worked. 

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New cows!! Finally! We've been waiting patiently to find just the right herd to start our operation.  Uncle Donald helped us find a beautiful load of black angus cattle - 37 pregnant mommas - all from a closed herd that descended from some of the very first Black Angus brought to California from Canada in 1938. They are big beautiful moms all due in September.

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More photos to come!

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And we host some neighbors cows in one if our pastures so we get to see some cute calves too. 

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Heff got his tractor. A lifelong dream come true ;) and now he can move, lift, pull anything I ask in minutes win-win

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And 7 weaner pigs! These guys will not be breeders but fattened up for pork chops this year ;)

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And ewes! We got 30 ewes (momma sheep) and 4 baby lambs. We will breed them with our Navajo-Churro rams in the fall for spring babies. This was me sorting - and there is a GREAT story an hour after this involving 3 big horned mamma sheep jumping ship from our trailer on the road!! 2.5 hours and miles of chasing them through wet knee-high alfalfa they see safely back in ;)

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And every night is a new sunset over the barn - more blogging coming soon I promise!

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Family Weekend

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4th of July we were lucky enough to have a group of my family up to the ranch! My parents, my Uncle John and Aunt Kim and their three awesome kids and Jen and Zach and their two sweet girls. Everybody pitched in for ranch chores and making lots of good food. We went out to the wet hay fields Friday night for some firework action from the back of a pick up, swam in the river, BBQed and explored the ranch. It was so great to show my family what "ranch life" is like - they all approved and agreed it's pretty sweet!! 

Jannie's first trip to the ranch and she jumps right in with the pigs and girls ;)

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My Dad treated us to a few rounds of fireworks from the volunteer fire department stand. 

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Emmy is back and staying for 10 days. Woohoo!!

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Sweet cousin Ella with hr biggest fans - the girls in matching outfits Jannie got at the Gap outlet on the way up. 

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The girls were so excited to show the cousins the river. Only on a serious CA drought it's mostly a river bed! Come on rain. 

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River selfie. 

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Sweet girls in the teepee decked out for the 4th! The girls decided Lola and Amelie are their honorary sisters ;)

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Heff and his flock - they beg very time the ATV starts up, especially Tiny - "wif you dada!!"

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And sometimes I get a turn too

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Jannie playing games on the porch with the girls - lucky ladies 

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And hammock and a sidecar to follow!

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Sunset dinner at the big table 

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And games with James and Luke

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Ranch breakfast. Tiny wants mine. 

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Trip to the u pick berry patch next ranch over 

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Berry snacker

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The whole crowd relaxing in the shade

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Bounty

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Four wheeler ride up the gulch Saturday afternoon

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And so thankful for this friendship of 36 years 

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This kid! Found a dead bull snake and carries it around like a trophy

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Aunt Kim giving JJ a lift to the barn 

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Adorable Lola striking a pose. She has the cutest personality 

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Tess loves to squeeze those chicks

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Thanks for such a fun weekend family!!

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