More Campout Cousins

 

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so much fun to relive the weekend through photos. A great one by Andrea of the girls clubhouse above! The weekend went by way too fast. Can't wait to go back. 

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the girls were hands on help pouring the cement pad for the new pivot 

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tiny insists in riding on Dad's "wap!" in the four wheeler. Nap time after the river 

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sheep "before"

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and after one shorn - poor guy getting made fun of by his buddies now ;) 

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and the littlest ones are already fence climbers

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Maisie and the girls making sure the firepit is ready

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for sparklers to celebrate!

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don't worry Dad we had the fire extinguisher close at hand ;)

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girls and Oliver building a diversion dam

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and catching frogs (while Donald catches them) in the irrigation canal

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headed to the river with a full house!

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that's a lotta little legs to tan. Come on summer!!

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close up of that awesome cake!! Piggys for Molly. Nice work Aunt Maureen. 

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Sunday Kat and Donald stayed after the troops left to help us fix and move the wheel lines. Kids in acres of new growth alfalfa!

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what a great weekend with family!! Even through the mild torture of a group photo ;) good sports all around!!

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Cousin Campout Year 2

 

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We gathered up the troops to celebrate the spring birthdays again this year - at the ranch!

it was the first time we've had guests up and got the big house camp style ready :) and stocked up on provisions like coors light of course. Ready to rock. 

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we arrived late Thursday night and set up camp with the girls. They helped Heff and a crew pour a cement pad for the new north pivot. Exciting ranch stuff! Oh and they all got knee deep in mud. 

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called for a tub bath 

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and then the first round of cousins arrived Friday morning! We explored the ranch a bit and let them run wild in the river. 

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this is the first time we've had beautiful sunny weather at the ranch and it feels so good!

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and then the rest of the crowd arrived for BBQ carne asada dinner 

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dinner outside for 25

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and Friday night campfire!

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Saturday morning activity. Sheep shearing!

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the dudes on the shears

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getting those sheep down to the skin. It was no easy task!

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spectators. They lasted two of the three sheep ;) 

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wool ready to make something of it!

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and then a morning hike around the irrigation ditch and up the draw to echo mountain - sister in laws and sleeping babes 

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me and my tiny 

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four wheeler full of kids up on the hill

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and then a lunchtime picnic out to the river in the sun! Troopy carried 17 of us out there 

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river walkers - so much fun to be out here in the wide open spaces!

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Tess in a watering hole 

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sassy ladies on the troopy

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afternoon wheel line pump fixin' 

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coors light and sunshine and chores. Pretty happy. 

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and afternoon piñata and cake for Molly and Caroline's birthdays. Uncle Donald roping kids. Always fun. 

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cake time. Maureen made an awesome piggy cake for Molly!

 

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caught um

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barn kids! All 15 cousins.

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Heff on a truck tailgate, BBQ'ing with a sleeping baby girl and a beer. Couldn't be much happier. 

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kids piled on the ranger Sunday morning to go look for duck eggs in the pasture

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and headed home. What a great weekend!!!

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Girls Weekend Getaway

Last weekend Alicia and Marisa and I road tripped up to the ranch for a little no kid getaway! I'm pretty lucky I have two friends who consider a weekend of manual labor vacation!! We had a blast up in Fort Jones and got a ton done....

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Vacaville pit stop for outlets and Applebee's. Yum. 

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chasing the sunset to get to the porch in time for sunset cocktails 

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 Made it!! Cheers to the fastest sidecars ever made

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And fancy dinner provisions watching the sun go down 

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morning shadows  - ready for a busy day

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and the first project tackled... Bye bye 150 years of wall coverings! Shocked to find original wood in good condition under it all 

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Then a drive up to Ashland OR for lunch and picking

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home for a ranger drive out on the ranch with wine. Deer spotting. 

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top of echo mountain 

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and drove down to the river for sunset

 

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love these girls 

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found a cow graveyard 

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ranger for 6

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and back to work the next day. Hallway demo. There was a false ceiling and wall of pressboard around the stairwell. It's not there anymore :)

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big front bedroom wall paper gone!

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lunch. Might be a sidecar. 

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and then the one task we promised we'd do... Build a firepit!

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good friends. 

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garden center visit in town 

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and some planting 

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and it's firepit time!!! 

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what a great trip. Thanks girls!!!!

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Cabin Redo

 

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Friday we kept moving in and setting up and by Friday night we had our neighbors over for drinks and card games!! 

Friday morning Maisie doing breakfast dishes. That's one way to do it

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YOYO lunch (love the term Jeanette!) fend for yourself kids we are working!

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the girls and I put up some Instagram prints with washitape (printed with prinstagram)

 

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and then the girls wanted to put up a rope swing - but an old feed bucket planter was in the way. So I gave them two shovels and told them to empty it out. 

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Tessa and I took a break to relax in the sun and watch them. Felt pretty good to sit down!

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they convinced Dad and Derek to back the truck up to hang the swing finally

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and we are swinging!! Not a bad view 

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the house is coming together. Front porch ready for sunset drinks and watching the rope swingers 

inside too!

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I've been so excited to put this runner down. It's an old kilim rug I found at the flea market that has "HH" on it!

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My old bed I got as my 13th birthday present - has a home again! The bedrooms connect by a bathroom / laundry room. It's a very efficient layout! ;)

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and the mud room in the back off the kitchen. We put in fake grass to keep the dirt out if the house! Wine fridge, beer fridge, dog house - check. 

meanwhile the girls were playing with dead animals on sticks and at as request only handling them with pliers. Gross. But I secretly love it ;) I was a gross kid too and proud of it. 

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we took a walk across the field to check on the minnows in the water trough and the sheep in the pasture. Our only current ranch animals... I think we need to change that!

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Cheif Big Horn, Geronimo and Eugene doing fine 

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we worked til the sun went down to finish the house and then ran to Bob's Ranchhouse for dinner. And I forgot to mention this guy took all four kids on errands this morning so I could sleep in and work - these errands included the farm service administration and the DMV!! He's a machine. 

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and the Blacks came by for a nightcap - bourbon and card games! The boys were so cute playing with the girls. After cards they played hide and seek... Not hard here! 

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Cabin set up weekend

 

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we were up at the ranch Thursday-Sunday to move into and set up the cozy little cabin. I love it up here!!! Especially now in the little house that's a little warmer and has a few more amenities ;) nothing fancy but it's perfect for ranch life at Sharps Gulch. 

we woke up EARLY Thursday morning for a 6am departure. Right when Peet's opens 

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stopped a few places this trip including the tractor store in Willows to order our first real farm implement for the ranch. Girls found ways to stay busy. 

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then back on the road. Red Bluff and a picking up the Troopy to take up there. By hour 7 JJ said she had to pee and Tess was crying so I performed two in car seat diaper changes without unbuckling them. I was pretty proud of my houdini skills ;)

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State of Jefferson barn... In ranch country!

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so we got up there at 2pm and started moving stuff into the cabin (all finished now!) to sleep there. It stays much warmer than the big bunk house and we redid the kitchen, put in new double paned windows, painted, new floors and bathroom remodel. I love how it turned out. 

Empty house ready for furniture...

 

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nothing better than an empty space ready for moving in! The girks carried ten things each in and earned a sunset ride out with dad to shoot ground squirrels while mom set up shop.  Lucky girls. 

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Francie grabbed two root beers and said "if you're gonna shoot squirrels you gotta have beers!!"

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I worked for awhile then ran to Ray's to get stuff to make dinner. Love the view from the driveway going to the grocery store. Somehow it's a peaceful experience up here!!

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first dinner in the cabin. Pasta with pork sausage, French bread and salad. Forgot we didn't have any salt in the house but at least we had tobacco for Heff ;)

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moved in pictures coming next!

Working

I love making things with wood and not worrying about making it perfect :) chop saw at sunset...

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lots if building to do up here! Shelves in our closet in the cabin. 

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then trying to figure out how to tackle closet bunks. One a crib below and either closet space or another toddler bunk for Janie above...

before. 

 

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and after. needs paint but should hold a kid in!

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fort jones lumber yard... My new favorite place. 

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Emmy on The Ranch

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it was so awesome to have Emmy up here with us this week!! We love you Emmy. Glad you loved ranch life as much as we do - even camping in the rough in' it bunk house in the cold!

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she is a master of the four kid morning routine, breakfast clothes and out the door! And it gave Heff and I some time to run errands and get to do list stuff done without the little buggers. 

Emy and a Tiny. Best buds. 

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Crafternoons and hikes - these five are a pretty good little team!

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and her photos!!!! Amazing as always...

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lunch break in the bunkhouse 

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love this shot of Maisie on a wheel line. Sisters sharing hot coco to warm up and carrying the babes - and nothing better than Emmy love. 

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or safe advice! Love to know what you two are discussing here. 

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 #ranchlife

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thinking and praying in wide open skies. Love you Em!!

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First Animals... Sheep!

I couldn't go very long without getting some kind of hay eating specimen on this ranch. I'd been checking Craigslist and on the drive back with Heff I spotted them... Three BIG HORN SHEEP!!!  

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Janie is obsessed with big horn sheep for some off reason (well nothing surprises you with this kid) so for her birthday Heff ordered her a matching big horn sheep shirt likes his (the one she insists he wear everyday) to go with her "real fake BB guns" and new red boots.  

Seeing as her birthday was Tuesday this week - I plotted a plan... Heff is so happy to be a rancher up here - most every answer I get is "sure whatever you want to put on the ranch" (Yes I know this will work against me at some point;) 

so I called a guy about some sheep, we went to look at them secretly while Em kept JJ and Tess- planning to bring one home if I could talk Heff into it... but then we realized they are a heritage breed of rams and we can breed them easily if we get ewes... but if we only got one and it died... and if we only got two it would leave a lonely guy behind (unicorn dude)... So I haggled the price down and all three rams climbed up in our trailer :)  yes!!!!

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you fellas are coming with us - and thanks to the nicest man who spent an hour with us answering our "we have no clue about this breed" questions and even following up to check in on them - Maisie gave him a picture she and Francie drew of the unicorn one "to remember his sheep after they leave" and he told us he taped it to his fridge - nicest people everywhere you turn up here!

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Maisie helping load them in - ceremoniously the first livestock in the trailer 

 

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we got home and JJ was still napping - but stirring enough I pulled her out if bed to come see her surprise. The big girls were SO excited to see her reaction. She was half awake with no shoes on and brought her blanket out...

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big horn sheep JJ! actually they are Navajo Churro Rams... But to JJ they are the real deal ;) she was and is soooooo excited with her sheep. 

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Welcome to your new home Cheif Big Horn (JJ's unicorn ram), Geronimo (Maisie's named after aunt minis horse and keeping the Navajo thing going) and Eugene (Francie's pick. Just because) we are glad you are ours! 

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Ranch Week with Kids - Part I

 

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we've had an awesome week up here. I might never leave :)

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Monday morning Heff and I frantically caught up at work and checked in everywhere - then loaded up to head back up north! Emmy and I drove in her car following Heff and the girls In the truck and trailer. We had so much fun listening to her Mormon General conference tapes on family, and drinking my diet coke. So Mormon! ;) we stopped at Home Depot and Target since we are faster than the trailer. 

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11am departure with stops we pulled into fort jones at 7:30pm - stopped at Lalo's for Mexican!

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got here to set up beds at 9pm. It was cold! Fire in the wood stove and fleece buffalo plied in the beds. Cozy. 

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this kid's last night being TWO!

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morning fun found a petrified dead owl to play with. And dead birds. Yummy. 

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Jannie sent up a ride on horsey!

 

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and for JJ's birthday - we went to dinner at Dolly's with Aunt Kat, Donald, Oliver and Lauren. Ice cream all around!

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for her birthday she got real fake BB guns and new red boots. And a big horn sheep shirt like the one dad has she is obsessed with :) and the big present needs it's own blog post next

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happy birthday JJ!

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Fixing Up the Bunkhouse

 

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last weekend we came up to the ranch with my Dad and Uncle Bill (and no kids!) for Valentines weekend house fix up :) we wanted to get everything set up to come back with the kids for the week so we set out with two days to set up camp!

 

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Heff and I drove the truck with the horse trailer behind us - full of hand me down furniture, cleaning supplies and warm jackets :)

 

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my dad and Bill drove the Sprinter up for us and we met for lunch at Granzellas 

we arrived around 4pm and have them a tour if the ranch. 

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and had heff's birthday /valentines dinner at Dotty's burgers :)

 

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the plan was to set up the little cabin for our until-we-build-a-house residence and to stay in next week... But we had some work done while we were gone and the pace in fort jones isn't exactly what I'm used to :) so we quickly realized the little house /cabin wasn't going to be ready for the week up here with the kids. Bathroom was gutted, no kitchen, no heat... You get the picture :) 

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but while Dad and Bill were cozy at the Etna Motel we roughed it on the floor by the fire in the cabin! 

 

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we were up early the next morning (easier to get out if bed when it's a sleeping bag!) to start working

 

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sunrise on the drive to breakfast 

 

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bob's ranch house breakfast to start the day

 

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and then back to the house to tackle our solution. The big house needs a lot of work - but it was cleared out and just needed a deep (really deep) clean. This is where we started...

 Living room

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 Front bedroom 

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 "parlor" front room

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and lots of this in every window under layers of plastic wrap to double pane

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so we started by pulling up the 1975 brown shag carpet. It was a dirty job!

 

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but we found great old for floors underneath with multiple layers of paint 

 

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then on to the tack strip and nail removal... Took forever!

 

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and lots if sweeping and cleaning. And more cleaning and cleaning. 

 

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we had good help!

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ammonia on every surface - this was half done...

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and the dust!

 

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more tack removal while Moose attacked my crow bar 

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and finally... Time to paint! Bill and my Dad went to the hardware store in town to get more supplies and floor paint. They picked a great red color

 

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two coats rolled on and we've got improvement! Much better smell too ;)

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and after a full day working the neighbors kindly invited us over for dinner! They are such a nice family we are lucky to have at the ranch next to us

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and up early again Subday morning - moon in the sunrise outside the ranch. The views never get old!

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we unloaded the container and put furniture in the house. 36 hours after we started...

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thanks to these guys for all the help!!!  What a fun weekend!

thanks to these guys for all the help!!!  What a fun weekend!

and by 1pm back on the road to go pick up our crew at home!

 

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Harnessing Water

The second day (on the first trip up - I'm slow blogging these) the girls woke up EARLY in pj's at the Etna motel so we could meet the contractor at 7am. It was a cold morning and they stayed in their PJ's all day! We explored out on the pastures, checking out the fences and the water diversions... since that's what you do when you have a ranch :) Heff and the girls found a spot the water was pooling and dug out so it would flow into the irrigation ditch instead of pooling. In an hour they had the water filling over 100 yards down! It was neat to see them understand the power of what they were doing, especially in a drought!

Go JJ, go.

Tiny started playing in the mud...

But wasn't too happy about it!

Dad and his buddy working side by side.

Nice pic on Maisie cam! :)

They got the water half way down the ditch... nice work girls.

Moose's first time in the water. He couldn't figure it out at first and pawed at the stream then we couldn't get him out!

First Family Day on The Ranch

Back at the ranch!

Some "real" (aka non-iPhone photos) of the ranch! These are from the last time we were up there- the first time it was "ours" and with all four kids. Lots of exciting possibility, lots of work and... lots of fun ahead!  

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Here we are checking out the "Little House" - most of it cleared out and some stuff left on the front porch.

View from the front porch - Francie already exploring.

Tiny making her way through the bigger bedroom

Maisie in the "kids room" (it's tiny!)

Crazy kids! Showing off their moves in the kitchen.

and sweet Maisie in her hunting jacket

and crazy J. (in case you can't tell the kids were taking these pictures of each other)

This is the main/living room in the little house (where we'll probably spend lots of cozy time! :)

and the kitchen "before".... after is in the works!

Heff measuring for the remodel (good memories to when we re-did our McKendry kitchen!)

even has our own "gas station" - haha.

The girls ventured outside to see what trouble they could get into... overturned water tup is always fun.

helping JJ squat for a pee - break... but no love for a Mom picture as thanks!? geez, JJ.

But Maisie obliged, sweet girl :)

and then Francie had to get in on the action... 

Please JJ??  Nope.

still got my Tiny.

Headed back to the house. I guess the risk of letting your 4 year old use your big camera pays off with pictures I am actually in to remember these days :)

another Maisie shot of the Old Hay Barn

Tailgate lunch - taco bell leftovers and chips, yum.

"You talking to me?"

Sisters on the roof - playing "kitty house" or something.

Apparently the truck is a good climbing structure

Clouds rolling in... girls headed back to the hay barn

Our pole barn... gonna need to fill it with some hay before we get our cattle!

Happy girls on the ranch - makes me happy too! Love this picture of Francie.

and cute Maisie

more pictures with Mom while the kids steal the camera

The girls went exploring while Heff was talking hay (um, and probably hunting. that's what they do up here). The girls found this cool old bridge right behind our house and were thrilled to forge their own new trail.

Maisie's new thing is to put her hands in her back pockets - but only when she is wearing cowboy boots, obviously.

They hiked over a trail up there and Maisie called to me to come "MOM! I found the more beautiful view on the wanch!"

Sun doing down on the Marble Mountain Wilderness

and sunset sky on our way to town for dinner

Bull Sale

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we were back in Red Bluff Saturday for the Bull and Gelding sale at the Fairgrounds. We usually go up anyway but this year we had a purpose- more than just getting a jumbo corn dog! :) 

Aunt Kat and I started the morning in the beer tent for a good Bloody Mary. Yum.  

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the kids were checking out the bull barns. There were some BIG bulls! Oliver was literally auctioneering as he described them to the girls "there's a Charlois - going for 50, 50, 50, 60, 100..."

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we checked out all the cool ranch vendors too. Chutes and fencing and hot shots!

 

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we weren't going to buy any bulls yet - still trying to figure out what breeds and our set up - but we got lots of good intel from Uncle Donald, helps to have a cattle rancher in the business!

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Arriving at the fairgrounds

COWS! Tiny's favorite

this kid is hilarious! OD.

corn dog time. my favorite.

Aunt Kat and Lauren (somebody feed that baby, she's trying to bite into her plastic iphone holder freebie from the trade show tent ;)

Daddy's and daughters

Day Two Review

Up at 6am to head to the ranch. Etna Motel looking chilly in the wee hours of day light!

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of course 6am felt like it fiiiiinally came around after "sleeping" in two double beds with four kids and a dog. I had been up since 2am when all four children inexplicably sat up whining and crying. They fell back asleep. I didn't! 

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We met the contractor to look at the little house and the big house with us. It was cold. REALLY cold. But I shouldn't put that in print since my husband said "I'm most impressed of anything today you haven't even complained once about being cold."  Yup. I'm hardcore. Only complain on the blog. 

We spent most of the two days up here trying to figure out which of the two houses makes the most sense to fix up - there is a little house and a bigger house. I was pulling for the beautiful old Victorian - but it might make more sense we live in the little house at least at first and then decide what to do with the big old house!

The lttle house was built in 1919 as a creamery for the ranch, it's got a good foundation, a root cellar, one foot thick cement walls and a bit of an unfinished attic space. It's 900 sq feet, two bedrooms (one of them maybe 7 feet wide at best) and one bath with living room, wood stove and kitchen dining area and a mud/utility room in the back. But it's really cute!

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The big house was built in the 1800's (some records show 1848 some say late 1800's) without electricity, heating or plumbing. It's been slightly upgraded since then with an addition on the back that is not on a foundation but holds a kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and a 'cold room' you can use as a fridge itself in winter! Upstairs are five bedrooms most built floor, walls and ceilings in old timber milled in the property. Not a light switch in sight up there and still no heat. Downstairs three bedrooms, a double living area and a big wood stove. 

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those are the basics but when you start to peel back the layers, the big house needs a lot of work and might be more that we want to unravel just yet! 

the girls spent the day exploring new trails behind the houses and along the pastures while we worked. They named the paths so we could tell them how far they could go if we didn't walk with them. So far they've got "high road north" with "arrowhead curve" and "badger hole turn" (not sure there are badgers but I didn't tell them that;) and yes they double pj'ed when we got up at 6am and never changed into real clothes 

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while Brian was in the shop for a bit we hiked all the way from the houses to "echo mountain" (named by Maisie who found a triple echo spot from the bottom of the draw) which is in the distance behind me to the right in this photo. More of a knoll than a mountain - but it's a beautiful spot up there with views of the whole valley. That's one place I'm dreaming of building a house one day! 

The little girls got tired when the dry weeds got taller than they were so I had to double pack on my back with my jacket as a jerry-rigged ergo ;)

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view from echo mountain top and a moose on the loose. And happy kids running around in the dirt and the sunshine all day long!! Loving ranch life already. 

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Scoping Things Out

We came up to Red Bluff for Bull Sale weekend and drove a little farther to check out the ranch Thursday and Friday!

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it's only another two hours from Red Bluff so we hung out at Oma's in the morning and played in the barn - Moose came too!

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then this little darling barfed everywhere on the drive up ;) poor baby! But she rallied 

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the girls were off and running as soon as we arrived while Heff and I were assessing what we need to do to fix up one of the houses to live in when we come up here

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it's going to take some work! A little more work than we thought once we looked at them without all the furniture - I'll post more when I download my real camera pics - but lots of fun to think about home improvement project possibilities!

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and lots of #dirtandsunshine for these wannabe ranch kids

 

 

Maisie with her Taco Bell taco she called a "chip burrito" - tailgates and Taco Bell... Pretty happy!

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and Francie got pretty cozy in a tractor wheel!

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we have officially become a "no small vehicle" family. If you call a suburban small ;) we traded my suburban for a truck and got this awesome lifted white ranch truck to leave up here. I'm not complaining! (When I met Heff his friends teased my lifted Tahoe was bigger than his truck ;)

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and it's also a kitty house (or something) the girls played on for an hour

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JJ found dogs to hug, pull around and ride - who don't have puppy teeth!

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we went on a walk a walk and found a great trail above the houses overlooking the pastures. Tiny wanted a ride;)

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the girls named the trail "Moose Track" since he lead us to it and Maisie said "mom! Come see the most beautiful view on the ranch!" (But it gets even better higher up! This is down close to the road)

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sunset on Fort Jones as we head to dinner in Etna at the Etna Brewing Company. I should have taken a group photo but we had SUCH a fun dinner with our new neighbors! They live on the ranch right next door and have three kids who are 15, 13 and 10. Both parents went to Davis and were there when Heff was there! They gave us the scoop on raising pigs for FFA and 4H here. The kids had a blast with really sweet "big kids" - can't wait to hang out with them more often when we come up!

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and we checked into our little motel room in Etna.

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It's cozy! Maisie was so excited to come back here since they have "real keys and weird phones" ha!

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the girls got to watch a little TV - treehouse masters or something... Hope they were inspired to "Tony's Hard Work Day" their own while Heff and I are busy fixing the houses!

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this kid kept us entertained all night. As usual. She puts Tiny's diapers on herself from a standing position (see above) even though she's been potty trained for a year. Any kid who can successfully do that should probably not be wearing one JJ. 

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looking forward to another fun day tomorrow!

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House Update

Here are some "before" pictures of the little house we are calling the Cabin and the big house, better known now as the Bunk House! I posted before that we decided to fix up the little house to live in for now until we build a house on the hill someday - but we were heart set on spending the kids week off school up there in February - and when it wasn't quite ready the big house became plan B! Now it's working out great so the cabin is the main base camp with an updated kitchen and bathroom and cozy warm space (still no hear just a woodfire oven but thick cement walls and only 900 sq feet stay much warmer than a 150 year old 8 bedroom ranch house!

The mud room - from the side/back entrance. We're cleaning this up and putting some green down on the floor to keep the mud out, my favorite!