The Christmas photo album

Today’s Weather — High of 34, low of 20.  It was beautiful outside this morning.  In fact, I overheated on our morning walk.  But it cooled down progressively through the day, and very cold weather is forecast for the coming week.


Today On The Ranch — The kids and I and Beau headed to the Upper House pasture at the Creek Place to cake cows.  When we got there, though, we discovered that the water tank was empty.  The tank is fed by the well Beau fixed yesterday, via a 4-mile-long pipeline with a storage tank on it, and he’s keeping his fingers crossed that it’s just taking the system a long time to fill up and push water to the Upper House tank.  If the water hasn’t gotten to the tank by tomorrow morning, he’ll have to prime the storage tank with reservoir water hauled using a borrowed water tender.  Because the cows don’t have a strong water supply without the tank (they continue to drink out of the creek), we decided not to feed them the cake we had with us — it can be risky to feed cows heavily when they’re low on water.  Back at home, I took the three big kids to a play date while Beau and Muggins fed some of the cake that was already loaded on Beau’s pickup to Pen 5 in the feedlot, the inhabitants of which just haven’t been very interested in eating and/or living since they were weaned from their mamas at the VX a few weeks back.  (I can’t really blame them; life with Mama at the VX (!) probably seems like a dream to them compared to being locked in a feedlot pen.)  It can be a hard adjustment for calves in the days and weeks following weaning.  Though we hardly ever feed cake to calves in the feedlot (they’re on a ration of silage, cracked peas, straw, and hay instead), Beau was willing to give anything new a try for this pen.  He reported that the calves did seem to take interest in the cake, which is a good sign.


Today’s Best Photos — I haven’t forgotten (yet, but it’s only January 11th) that one of my goals in the new year is to sort through old photos and stay on top of the new ones I take.  As I write, there are over 10,000 photos stored in the photo program of my computer.  Some of them I’ve never even looked at, just downloaded in a rush months ago and got distracted and blew on to the next thing in life.

I don’t want these photos to think I don’t care about them!  They deserve to be sorted, the best of them printed and loved.  And it drives me crazy that they’re on my computer taking up tons of memory, so I would feel much better if the junk was trashed.

It’s going to take a first step.  So.  I’ve been going through photos from this past Christmas, and because I never got around to posting these here, I’m going to share our 2019 Christmas Album today:

First, a great picture of my sister Sue with Muggins.  This was taken on the day I got to leave Muggins at home with Beau and shop in Billings with Mom, Sue, niece Taylor, and my two girls.



Next, a different shopping day — the one when Taylor and nephew Nate babysat the three little kids so Asher and I could have the dollar store all to ourselves.  That’s Asher and Nate, the turkeys, behind the cardboard at the hardware store:



There’s this one, from the evening Beau and I let the kids watch A Christmas Story for the first time.  You should hear Asher retell Ralphie’s tire-changing scene.

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Next, the kids in their costumes for the church Christmas play:






And then there’s this photo of chocolate in Marsi’s hair.  This was the day the kids and I did our best at dipping pretzels in chocolate for a holiday treat.  How the chocolate got in her hair I can only imagine.



Nephew Nate spent a good part of his Christmas vacation with us.  He kept Asher hopping — they were always off to call coyotes or check their traps or track raccoons or set up goose decoys.  Nate’s 16 now, driving, and getting to be pretty darn helpful when a job needs to be done.



On Christmas Eve our family was cruising through the feedlot; it was, just as the goal had been laid out, the final day of fall works here on the old PV.  Muggins’ hair was crazier than usual as he watched out the window:




And here are four Blake kids all dressed up on Christmas Eve:


Me and the girls:



At the Christmas Eve get-together at my cousin Chad’s house, nephew Nate and Chad’s two boys pretended they were a boy band in their brand-new matching pajamas (kids unwrapping pajamas is our family Christmas Eve tradition).  It seems like it wasn’t all that long ago that all these guy were still wearing matching footies over their diapers.



And then came Christmas morning, but not before Beau and I stayed up ’til 2 a.m. trying to get all the kids’ presents ready for morning time.


My folks came later in the day on Christmas bearing gifts, and Muggins was pretty proud of his new cowboy gear:



The weekend after Christmas, we threw a “Happy Birthday Jesus” party for the PV families and everyone else who helped the ranch get through 2019.  (The cake was made by local cake-maker Donna Etter.  I have never, and I doubt I will ever, eat a cake as delicious as Donna’s cakes.  I’m probably one of her better customers, which is great for the taste buds but maybe not the figure.)


At the Christmas party, niece Tay stole my phone and got a picture of Grandma kissing on babies…


And naughty little boys sitting on the piano.  (That’s Kolt from Ridge Camp with Muggins from… who does that kid belong to again?!)



And while I’m sharing pictures of little boys, I must include this one of Asher with his buddies Levi and Adam, who live with their parents at Horse Camp.  I took this photo of them on the last preg-checking day at Horse Camp this fall.  They’d been knee-deep in the creek.

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On the same day as the ranch Christmas party, as my mom and I were hustling around in the kitchen to get all the food and fixings ready to take to the community center in town for the celebration (sadly there is no restaurant in nearby Hysham at which to host a Christmas party, but beyond that, the corporate ranch budget does not include a line for party funds… so if there’s gonna be a party, we have to get creative), Nate and Asher decided it was a great time to let Piggy (God rest his soul) out of his pen and into the chain link yard around our house.  Taylor documented everything using my phone.


They built a little alley to get the pig from the pen to the yard.  Next, Nate thought it would be very funny to saddle Piggy with this old bareback pad he’d found in the barn:


Muggins looked on in disbelief:



I think the original plan was that either Asher or Emi would actually ride Piggy, but when it came right down to it Asher didn’t think so…


And neither did Emi.


Nate tried very hard to get at least one kid on Piggy’s back, but the kids weren’t cooperating, and Piggy wasn’t cooperating, and then the adults said it was time for Piggy to go back to his pen.  I’m not sure at which point in the process Nate had to jump five feet in the air… but it’s a cool photo, Tay!




Because they’d been otherwise engaged on Christmas Day, we celebrated the season with my sister Sue and her husband Mitch (Nate and Taylor’s folks) at my parents’ house the Sunday after Christmas.  Beau gave Mitch a monocle for Christmas, and I gave him an ugly Christmas sweater which I think is pretty funny.


After (our what, fifth?) Christmas dinner, Nate, who is always up to something, got to rummaging around in my dad’s stuff and duded himself up.  Though Dad has never looked silly wearing the typical garb of an Eastern Montana cowboy… Nate did.  When we told him he ought to be a model in a Stetson ad, he really amped up his act.


And that is how the sun set on Christmas 2019.

© Tami Blake

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