Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wife Hacks

Even though the days are technically getting longer, I haven't found myself being more productive and cranking out any additional work in a day's time. Maybe it's because I can't keep up with the mysterious chunks of mud that seem to find their way onto our kitchen floor; or maybe it's because 90% of my time in the house is spent having a staring contest with a brown eyed beauty over her shoddy eating habits. 

Whatever the reason, I find myself utilizing a series of, not Life Hacks, but rather Wife Hacks, that get me through the day and continue to keep me semi-sane as a Homesteading Optimist. On social media Life Hacks are quick 12-second clips on how to organize your pantry and send your kids to college in 6 easy steps. Life Hacks demonstrate 2-ingredient Thanksgiving meals in 15 minutes or less. 

Much the same, I have found my Wife Hacks to be simple, creative ways to save time and sanity around the farm and home. 

Kitchen Wife Hacks:

Dinner time can be a point of tension in our home. Cody has a taste palate that is complete opposite of mine. I actually enjoy kale and beans. He favors Velveeta and tacos. 
The few ingredients we agree on: 

  1. Beef
  2. Rotel
  3. Rocky road ice cream

That's quite limiting when leafing through cookbooks and making out a grocery list. However, I've learned that a little bit of marketing can go a long way when preparing meals.

For instance, if I simply put a friend's name in front of the particular dish I'm making, it sounds more appealing to him. I mean, it's weird, but somehow it works. 

Last week we had Tyler Cates Chicken
John McCurry Parmesan Pork Chops and
Jeremy Haag Beef Stew
You can find full recipes at the end of this blog. 

Also, for whatever reason Cody doesn't trust any recipe I find off of Pinterest; probably because he understands that 70% of the things seen on the site are unachievable. He does - however - love the butter-enriched cowboy food that comes from the Pioneer Woman. So even if I'm cleaning out the refrigerator and creating some kind of Chef's Surprise casserole, I set out one of my Pioneer Woman cookbooks and prop it open so that it appears that I'm getting my direction from some fiery red head in Oklahoma. 
He never seems to offer suggestions when it is a Pioneer Woman recipe. 

Wife Hacks:

I have an album in my phone of barn cats doing stupid barn cat things. So when Cody is on a 5-day run out west and asks how the barn cats are, I just pull a random picture from the album on my phone and send it his way to give him a little peace of mind that they're doing great

The trick here is to remember to delete all photos of certain cats once they hit life #9. Nothing confuses Cody more than sending him a picture of Sunny in the mud when Sunny was actually found frozen to a scoop shovel back in January. Not that I speak from experience. 

House Wife Hacks:

Cody is great about letting me know when he's an hour from returning home and then asking if he needs to pick up anything before reaching the homestead. Even though I know he is incredibly ready to just be home, this gesture is so helpful to me. Mostly because we're usually short on diapers or bananas, but also because it sends me into a series of Wife Hack actions:

1. Turn on all wax burners and ensure they're burning something that smells clean. Never - ever - burn something that smells like a food, because then there will be an expectation that a pan of sticky cinnamon buns/loaf of banana bread/warm sugar cookies are waiting on the counter. This breeds false hopes and dreams. 

2. Run (I use the term loosely) outside and feed the barn cats so they don't act like starving idiots and attack his truck when he pulls into the driveway. Our barn cats don't talk, but they are quite the story tellers. 

I'm not particularly proud of my Wife Hacks but they've gotten me through 3.5 years of marriage and 9 months of motherhood so I'd like to think they're worth something. Although my mother - a solid cross between June Cleaver and Judge Judy - would be absolutely mortified that I make meals with fewer than 17 ingredients. 

This is one of those weeks where I wrote strategically. Meaning, I know Momma and Dad are calving out cows like crazy at Bowman Superior Genetics and her chances of getting on the computer and reading this entry are slim. 


Pork Chops
Beef Stew

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Farm Wife Fitness

Someone asked me last week if I had a gym membership. 

I tried really hard to hold in my laughter, but it seeped out in the form of:
"You can't be serious? By you mean Slim Jim? Jimmy John's? Jungle Jim's? Wait. Are you serious?"

I drove home wondering why I don't spend more time - and money - on my health. Why not pay dollars a month to walk around an indoor track (let's be honest: That's all I'd do)? 
Answer: Because I live on a farm.

Which keeps me active, or at least moderately out of breath. 

Farm Wife Planks
Farm wife planks are the motion done when your husband tells you that the electric fence is off, but you have had trust issues since a shocking event in 2009, so you have to roll under the high tensile fence.  But the ground is wet - or cold - and you try to make as little ground contact as possible. 

Farm Wife Weight Lifting
Two things prevent me from going to a gym to lift weights: 1. carrying buckets of feed instead of transporting them via Kubota and 
2. This chunk

Farm Wife Sprints
Farm wife sprints are done when your husband calls and wants to know the sex of the newest calves and you have to dodge all mother cows in order to do a 2-second tail lift before sprinting back to (and over) the gate. 

We have no footage of the farm wife sprint, which further proves the fact that I only run if I'm being chased. However, we do have footage of this broad:

Farm Wife Squats 
Farm wife squats are the action done when you're trying to get under a string of temporary fence by finding the lowest point in the ground that offers the greatest depth between the fence and ground. Arms out for balance. Head tucked down for clearance. Bad word whispered for good measure. 

Farm Wife Chin-Ups
Farm wife chin-ups are done  when there is excess room between the hay mow ladder and the ground so you have to stack buckets to get to the right height to climb. Except said buckets fall over and you have two options: 1. Do chin-ups to get up the ladder or 2. bust your tail bone.

Farm Wife Cardio
Farm wife cardio can be done a lot of different ways, but the easiest way to get your heart rate elevated is to simply get in the hay mow when you're absolutely terrified of heights. Especially if said hay mow has a shoddy floor and every step has you assuming it's your last. 

I hope you've read this and found creative ways to feel the burn in your own little piece of the world. Listen, you don't have to pay for a gym membership to get healthy; you just have to move

But trust me: If you don't have a spotter, stay off the buckets. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Honesty in the Doctor's Office

I had a routine wellness check nearly a month ago. 
You know, the kind where they ask for your blood, urine, time, patience, insurance card and father's grandfather's uncle's health history. 

I told the doctor that I thought he was healthy but passed at age 35. 

World War I really took a toll on the young, healthy guys. 

I was asked to sit alone in a quiet, cold room and proofread five pages of contact information followed by eight pages of health history. 

How many times should I need to write my last name, middle initial and first name for one appointment, do you think?

How many times did I write "Bowman" rather than "Sankey"? 

Perhaps year four is the ticket.

Then I moved into the health history questionnaire. 

Every year prior, I've breezed through this bad boy like a college student who knew they were going to pass the class without regard to how they did on the final.
All answers were - proudly - marked NO.

This time was different. 

This was the first time in a while that I was 

1. Alone
2. Not in my car
3. Not in the shower
4. Completely focused on me. 

This time I took the wellness survey quite seriously. 

Do you have an existing and/or recent problem with:

Please explain all answers marked YES.

Insomnia: YES

I haven't slept in 9 months

Daytime drowsiness: YES

I think not sleeping in 9 months may have something to do with this. 

Recent weight gain/loss in the last 6 months: YES

I've teetered between the same 30 lbs. for the last nine months. 
I eat a slab of rocky road nightly in hopes to bounce back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. They're my favorites and GAP stopped making them. 

Sensitive ears: YES

There was a time in my life when I lived one block from railroad tracks and I never once heard the (4) night trains. 
Today I can hear Mike Craig's (neighbor) cows bawl and I can also hear Caroline's toes wiggle. I can hear clouds move. Make it stop. 

Shortness of breath when walking with other people 
at an ordinary pace on level ground: YES
Have you ever tried to push a stroller through mud while carrying a 5-gallon bucket of feed?
I didn't think so. 

Wheezing that interferes with your job: YES
See above. 

Heartburn that is not related to eating: YES

11 months of the 2016 Election

Pain in abdomen: YES

26 hours of labor. 
Thought I was tough. 
She's healthy and strong and it all worked out. 

Pain in neck: YES

My brother

Numbness in limbs: YES
Sometimes when CJ (thats my daughter, not my husband) falls asleep in the recliner with me I wake up and can't feel or move my arms. 

Wondering if life is worth it: YES

In the last week I have stubbed the same ingrown toenail on the same coffee table in the 5:15 AM darkness. Twice. 

I submitted my clipboard to the nurse and took a cat nap on the paper table lining while she and her team analyzed my honesty. 

The doctor came in the room six short minutes (I was counting on a 30-minute snooze) later. 

She held on to her stethoscope like it was a necklace and crossed her legs like a friend moving in for a really raw chat. 
"How are you, Lindsay?"
"I'm Well," I responded without thought. 
She leaned in like a sister that knew too much. 
"I have a seven-month-old at home and it's bull sale season.....Travel season for my husband," I responded without prompt. "And we're calving."
She smiled. 
"You need to get that baby to bed earlier. Take daily walks. And shut off your phone after 9:00 every night."

Three instructions. 

No drugs. 

I walked out of the doctor's office wondering if I was a hypochondriac.

Then I quietly assured myself:

Not a hypochondriac, I'm a mother.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reasons to Wear Perfume

For the first time since I became a mother, today I’m wearing perfume.

It is not for a special occasion, special person or special day, but rather, very ordinary events that unraveled my morning well before the beautiful sunrise struck Indiana.

I came in contact with the feces from three species before 6:30 AM: bovine, feline and Caroline. Because of this, I’m wearing my fourth outfit of the day – hopefully my final. Until I get home tonight and have to feed cattle, again. Hopefully, after that: pajamas. Six changes of clothes in 12 hours isn’t bad for someone not in diapers. Right?

For the record, CJ is on outfit number three and I 
packed four more to cover the next eight hours. 

I have this strange smell of amoxicillin and acid reflux swirling around me, and despite holding strands of my hair under the bathroom sink faucet and using Bath & Body Works White Citrus hand soap as shampoo, I can’t seem to get rid of it. I have two strategically placed bobby pins in my hair holding back certain parts that have dried, not clean, but crusty. I did a spray-and-run of Lysol and perfume before leaving the house to cover all germs and smells. 

After giving CJ her infant Tylenol, I licked my fingers, rather than wash them, hoping that the sweet relief she gets from the stuff will somehow alleviate the pain her mother recognizes as “Thursday”.  Despite the .05 mL of drugs ingested, I can still feel the pain.

On the way to daycare I asked CJ to behave, to be kind, to take a nap and to eat her food. She promised fifty-percent. That’s the most I can hope for from a 7-month-old. At least she’s honest.

I listened to praise music on full blasters all the way to work because I figured it was the only way to keep myself from cussing the morning; it’s hard to say bad words when worship music is filling your ears. I came into the co-op parking lot on two wheels, leftover Mexican food in one hand, computer bag in the other, stopping every three feet to check the bottoms of my shoes. Something was lingering and it wasn’t amoxicillin, acid reflux, Lysol or perfume.

Damn barn cats.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Toys On The Ground

Making dinner of an evening now takes quite a bit longer than it used to, but it is twice the fun with my kitchen helper. 

As my mom did, I'm making an effort to include Caroline in the kitchen early and often. Every evening she sits in her high chair and judges the way my 1 tablespoon of butter measures more like 1 1/2 tablespoons. One day she'll appreciate my generosity. 

Meal preparation takes longer, not because of her inability to mince garlic, but rather her ability to throw her toys on the ground. 

Because I believe in the 5-second rule (and I'm also terrified that Cody wore his work boots across the kitchen to grab an Angus Journal in the living room without me knowing), I try to pick up her discarded toys as quickly as I can. 
Then blow them off. 
Or rinse them off. 
Or put them in the "to boil" pile. 

Maybe because my mind runs in several different directions often, 
or perhaps because something is heavy on my heart at all times
each night as I prepare dinner for our family 
I think of a message that 
I want to share with you. 

I have a tattered relationship with a friend that is in desperate need of repair. Each time I reach out, they make it clear that they want little to nothing to do with me. It weighs on me daily, and strangely each time that I'm in the kitchen and Caroline throws a toy to the ground without any regard to the hard, dirty farmhouse floor resting at the bottom of her tiny force, I think about that friend and our discarded friendship. 

In my true (ignorant) I'm a good person and you hurt my feelings fashion, the first (3) times my friend told me to leave them alone I took it quite personally. Then I got mad. 
Their loss. I thought. 
I'm a nice person. I thought. 
We've had a great time over the years. I remembered. 

Then I had a conversation with someone else that changed my perspective. I told this person (my not-paid-enough-pseudo-counselor) that I feel like one of the objects so thoughtlessly tossed aside; perhaps that's why I'm so quick to pick up every toy. Or spoon. Or spaghetti strainer. Or book. Or teether. Or mixing bowl. Or anything on the ground. 

And I was quickly reminded that I'm not just a toy on the ground. 

I was quickly reminded that everyone is facing a battle that we know nothing about. 

I was reminded that everyone is facing a battle that we know nothing about. 

Everyone is facing a battle that we know nothing about. 

Those last three lines were not typos. I hope you read, read and re-read them. 

Instead of showing frustration, I'll show my friend love, as Jesus has shown me (John 15:12). I'll love my friend in the way that Caroline loves each toy once I wash it off and present it to her again. Each time, she is excited to see it, as though it's a brand new toy she's never seen before. Her excitement and appreciation is admirable.

If you have a friend in need, don't give up. Don't stop reaching out to them because they act as though they want you to go away. Don't get offended because you're the last person they want to spend time with. It isn't always about you. Don't be discouraged because they're bothered that you check on them. Seasons of life affect people differently, and in the long run I can promise you the effort of caring you put into the relationship will not be something you regret.

Tonight I'll cook dinner with CJ in the high chair and CS in the barn.
I'll pick up the discarded toy and the strainer and the spoon and the bowl and the teether and more. 
Later at night I'll lay my head down on my pillow thinking of - and praying for  - the friend that would rather I go away than bother them again. 
And I'll commit to loving them through the storm. 

And I'll hope that you do the same for your friend 
that came to mind as you read this blog. 

Also, Jesus doesn't judge the state of my kitchen floor and you probably shouldn't, either. 
Only my mother is warranted to do that. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Farmhouse Register

The older I get, the more hurriedly time tries to dodge past and the more I appreciate the value in a farmhouse register. I have a long history with the old metal grate that blows slow, warm air to heat a homestead. 

If you've ever wondered why I resembled Hattie the Witch growing up, wonder no longer. 

When we were young, mom would instruct my sister and I to "go lay on the register" to dry our hair. So, without question or objection, we did. 
No blow dryer. 
No brush. 
Just two girls reporting to our individual registers, lying flat and waiting for the heat to kick on. This wasn't anything odd to me, as it was better than mom using a brush and No More Tangles (I call BS) to work through the knots in my hair. It also allowed me to slow down for a while and get my mind right. Trust me: you don't want to be rough housing when your sensitive scalp is lying against a metal grid. Years passed and styling products, blow dryers, hot rollers and (unfortunately) flat irons entered the picture, and the days of simply lying on the register as our beauty regiment were no more. I learned to miss the ease and quiet of laying on the register. 

But the register was more than a hair dryer; it was also a crystal ball. 

Want to set fire to an already-worn-out homemaker? Get off the bus and immediately ask her what's for dinner. Not that I have experience. I learned early that I could just go the dining room register, check the writing on the white butcher paper of the piece of meat being thawed on the low heat and determine quickly if tonight was a cube steak with gravy, beef and noodles or rump roast kind of night. We always ate well. That's why we could never put our jeans in the dryer. 

There are particular things that are not in my life's Standard Operating Procedure, nor will they be, ever:
Starting the day without making the bed. 
Buying low-fat ice-cream. Or low-fat sour cream. Or low-fat anything, really.
Putting my jeans in the dryer. 

I've never trusted gals who can get their jeans out of the dryer and zip them in the same day. How does that work? Don't you have to do the step-and-squat-step-and-squat for three mornings straight before wearing them in public?  Also, how do the jeans not became denim capris after one dryer session? So many questions directed towards those who don't rely heavily on farmhouse registers. 

From my teenage years to now, my jeans have never been in a dryer but always found a place on the farmhouse register for drying. It is a slow, low heat (think of smoking a 10-pound prime rib) that takes two days to fully complete the duty. But it saves trouble when I consider that I didn't have to lie flat on my bed and use a coat hanger to jack up the zipper. 
Alone. Not that I have experience. 

It was two weekends ago when I really began to consider, and appreciate, the simple service of a farmhouse register. With Cody in Denver for eight days, Caroline and I came in from the farm after choring in -2º temperatures. I considered dipping her in a warm bathtub, but then remembered that we didn't have one. So I unbundled her and sat her tiny body on the register while I removed my layers. 

She was as content as they come, 
feeling the warm air move 
through her footie pajamas. 

It reminded me of a childhood lying flat, looking at the ceiling and waiting for my hair to dry. Or even coming in from the farm twenty years ago and warming up on the register. It's amazing what comfort warm, dry air can bring to a person when they don't truly need anything else in that moment. 

Do you have a register in your life?

Maybe not a metal heat vent that blows as much dust as it does air, but rather a quiet, calm place to focus on one thing, only. 

Maybe yourself. 
Maybe your faith. 
Maybe your family.
Maybe your business plan. 
Maybe just your life's general direction. 

Go there as soon as you can. 
Refocus. Regroup. Recharge. 

And don't forget to lay out a cut of beef for dinner. 
You'll think me come 5:30 when you're trying to carry in five grocery bags, a computer bag and a baby and your husband asks, 
"What's for dinner?"

Not that I have experience. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sixth Annual Jean's Boots Christmas Letter

You read that right. 
We're in week two of 2017 and I'm just now getting out my Annual Christmas letter. 
If you know me, you'll think nothing of it. 
If you don't know me, you should. You'll feel better about yourself. 

Let me be the absolute last person to wish you Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!! I hope you returned from a wonderful holiday recharged to take on another year, with a cleaned out heart, mind and refrigerator. 

I received a scathing message over the holidays from a Jean's Boots reader who claimed that I live in a fairy tale world. 
I'll admit: I was a bit taken back; but that's part of writing your life's story and leaving it for the world to read: everyone has a voice. The fairy tales I remember from my childhood included ball gowns and soft kisses and princes and white horses. 
My life includes Carhartts and mouse traps in the kitchen and heifers in heat and barn cats. 

One hundred times over I'll still take option 2. 

2016 was a big year for the Sankey Tribe. 

Cody spent the first couple weeks of the year in Denver at the National Western Stock Show and I became all too familiar with the intricate mechanics of our ball waterers on the farm. I learned at what temperature each would likely freeze, what tools removed the lids, what damage a chipped seal can do, why it is important that the blue ball floats flush to the top of the tank, why you shouldn't completely removed the valve cover as you pour hot water over it, which animal health company thermos keeps water hottest for an extended period of time, that I have a hole in my left Carhartt pocket where I used to carry the socket wrench, and that my iPhone doesn't work in temperatures below 20º when the battery is less than 38%. Bummer deal. That was my January. 

In February I traveled solo to a dear friend's wedding in Texas where I read during the ceremony. Pregnancy brain was just enough in full swing that I flew there to learn that I had booked myself into the wrong hotel on the wrong side of town, had no rental car or transportation to get myself to and from the rehearsal, ceremony or reception, and also forgot any insurance cards, health insurance cards and even my beloved Spanx. This means I had one  he** of a time renting a car in Abilene and an even worse time trying to zip my non-maternity dress in a hotel room alone. That was my February. 

March, April and May were mostly comprised of waiting room prayers and Cody and I holding our breath in a dark room with our eyes closed, waiting to hear a simple - but so complex - swishing sound. We spent more time walking the aisles of Buy Buy Baby and reading reviews on than either of us want to admit, but we did that for good reason. 

In June Cody represented the American Angus Association and attended the NCBA's Young Cattlemen's Conference. From Denver to Chicago to Washington, DC, it was the experience of a lifetime. He proved to be a force on the Hill - all those years of livestock judging paid off million times over. The guy can convince you of anything: trust me. He was voted by other attendees to be the 2016 YCC Chairman, which means he'll return to the trip in 2017 to represent his class and also go to the national convention in Nashville in a few weeks. 

For the first time in my life, in 2016 I spent exactly one-half of the year pregnant. 
Then, on July 1, 2016 Caroline Jean Sankey entered the world. How amazing that God entrusted Cody and I to raise up this little girl? She brings us so much joy. Wowza is she a cute kiddo. You all told me motherhood would change my life in a thousand different ways and you were so wrong. I counted 2,857 ways back in September. I. WAS. NOT. PREPARED. 
In fact, I was the World's Greatest Mother until I became one. Now, I spend my days wondering if she's getting enough verbal stimulation, if she's over exposed to cat residue in the barn (seriously - I don't know where they sleep/step/live) and if I cram her into that sleeper one more day: Will she turn out bow legged? I spend some nights rocking her from 2-4 AM and other nights checking her breathing five different times because she hasn't awaken me, at all. 

In August Cody accepted a role within Genex as Bull Procurement Manager. He now travels the world looking at cattle and in search of sires to add to Genex's line-up. Sometimes when he sends me photos like the one below, I send him photos of whatever I'm looking at (diaper? sink full of dishes? barn cat frozen to a shovel?) just to remind him of the kind of woman he married. 

I went back to work in October and still really enjoy my job, even if I do take 2-minute breaks every 45 minutes to watch videos of Caroline. Every day I enjoy writing and working for Harvest Land. I like the people, the mission and the work; I do miss our girl. 

2016 was year of little sleep, huge change and even greater love. One hour I find myself completely frustrated with the number of toys, books and burp cloths scattered across our farmhouse. Two hours later Caroline is in bed and Cody is asleep in the recliner and I find a strange sadness in putting everything back to it's exact place. Another day is already gone. 

I use more under eye concealer than those within the entire city limits of Las Vegas, deeply respect a new set of individuals who talk more to a washing machine throughout the day than they do a human being and now measure days in two-hour increments. 

2016 changed things. 

2017 will, too. 

Cody, Caroline and I hope that you have a wonderful year. And if you, too, believe that my writing is fairy tale ramblings, I invite you to read the last five years of year-in-reviews. Need a confidence boost? Here ya go:

Year One
Year Five

Take care of yourself, 

- Lindsay Jean