Our Easter Sunday dawned a blanket of white. The trees hung heavy with snow. The wind blew cold and strong. The calves, even the freshly born, tucked in tightly to the herd, protected and warm from the wintery chill.
Like a morning so long ago, our hearts awoke a bit heavy with burdens and worry. Had we done enough last night? What would we find when we went to the pastures and barns? Where is the world going, and how will we succeed in it?
Then, as can happen when your heart is open to gratitude and possibility, we rolled back the dark coverings and inhaled the light, the beauty, the freshness of a new day … a new day for love and light despite challenges … a new day of hope and promise amidst uncertainty.
On this Easter Sunday, I’m sharing a collection of log’s from our family’s past 30 days. I share in hopes of offering levity in your own hardships, in solidarity for the challenges we all have, and in prayer that we come out of this perhaps not with understanding for each other’s journeys but at least with grace and empathy.
We are ranchers, and we thank you for sharing our journey!
~ Amy Blum, The Writing Rancher
March 14, 2020
Day 1 Highlights of Self-Quarantine (kidding–with the children’s social activities halted, we just actually go nowhere): A) My husband survived another day of communicating telepathically during chores. B) I spent seven hours after chores painting a bedroom with an eight-year-old. C) On a paint break, I learned boys made a deal to change beds from upstairs to down. A bunk bed set currently sits in my living room. D) It was our middle son’s night to cook supper; he sweetly made yummy egg salad sandwiches with a side of scrambled eggs. Please send reinforcements. I may not survive (P.S. We do take the current world situation seriously. I also believe in laughing when we can because I know how quickly it can all change.) #laughterismedicine #grateful
March 16, 2020
Day 3 Captain’s Log: I’m somewhere between confident in my abilities as a capable kick ass woman and curled up sucking my thumb while my eyes glaze over. Unplugging from social media, news, and people in general is getting higher on my to do list. But, we’re far from alone; we’ve got a pretty strong faith, and there are AMAZING teachers and friends out there doing what they can to make these uncharted waters a bit less choppy! As a bonus today, the oldest two boys switched cooking nights peacefully on their own so CW’s deer steaks could marinate. We weren’t able to be in the kitchen with them, but our kiddos make my heart so happy! Our daughter answered their questions even though she was totally annoyed by them, and our youngest put his head down to work elsewhere (he cooked hamburger and noodles last night) CJ made fried chicken, something I rarely cook. Jay Blum was thrilled, and no one got burned or started a fire! We live to try another day
March 15, 2020
Day 2: I’ve realized the past few days merely represent “a weekend at home”. Tomorrow begins reality. I don’t mind the slower pace. I don’t miss the social pressures of doing everything or going everywhere. It doesn’t bother me to be socially distant. Even though I joke, I enjoy the kids and all the projects both inside and out. I am grateful we are ranchers with plenty of work and space despite the stress of no market. I am grateful my work doesn’t hinge on in-person connections. Yet, my dog’s face is surely the expression I made when the notion of having to homeschool hit me: “Well played God. It appears teaching–the last thing on my youthful list of ‘nevers’–might come true also.”#weloveteachers
March 17, 2020
Day 4 (but, really, who the hell cares??) Captain’s Log: In an effort for me to keep this ship upright in stormy waters, the children focused on outdoor education for most of the day. I stayed back with visions of accomplishment, organization, and cleanliness in my head. Instead, I spun circles, bawled a couple times, got mad, took the calf for a walk, let our youngest teach me how to do school, and made cookies (aka ate cookie dough) Alas, the four young humans returned home full of excitement from all the education they received (Uncle Bart is a great supervisor, and Grandma Ruth remains a stellar “lunch lady”). Kids really are a marvel when given the opportunity. Also, CW’s meal of 24-hour marinated deer steak was a lovely surprise!! This child likes to play ignorant in the kitchen, which usually results in his sister taking over. Oldest trick in the book though, and I finally won! Of course, it’s all a house of cards at this point, so cheers to living another day
March 18, 2020
Captain’s Log: I’m no longer counting; it feels calmer that way. Settling in to hermit mode is also a comforting norm. Our rural world keeps spinning with activity, and there’s good in that too–even in all the stuff that’s far less than good. We are NOT good at schedules, and I’m most certainly not doing anything close to homeschooling. Our very full day storm prepping and all ended with two special lessons: 1) There is a difference between a “skillet” and a “griddle”, and 2) Those who work until dark eat cold food. Sweet girl made bone-in pork chops and a variety of sides. Even had it all plated for us and everything. She told me, “Damn, now I know why you make simple stuff like tacos most of the time.”#stilldelicious
March 19, 2020
Captain’s Log: The ship remains afloat. TVs and social media can, in fact, be turned off. Doing both is an exceptionally good idea if you’re feeling anything less than empathetic and open-minded. Manual labor, service to others, and fresh air are also good fixes for poor attitudes. And with that, the youngest made supper tonight: hamburger/mushroom pizza on homemade crust seasoned with all his favorite spices. #memories #stressedBUTblessed
March 20, 2020–Entry 1
Captain’s Log, Star Date 97817.41: It’s likely there will be multiple reports today. Pre-kids, I told Jay I had a high propensity for becoming a woman who carried a cute little dog in a fancy bag. Four kids and 15 years later, I have become a woman who puts sweatshirts on bottle calves for fun … That’s pretty close, I guess
March 20, 2020–Entry 2
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97818.58: This ship likes to flirt dangerously with life as a three-ring circus. I must correct course or be doomed “Master of the Show” forever! Aside from the regular “must list”, the kids and I bid adieu to the three S’s–School, Schedule, and Sanity. This was a bad idea. Alas, we survived the meltdowns, the mischief, and the multi-project day! Our happy for the day included: Dad coming home to enjoy Jammin’ Minutes with our youngest; our daughter finishing chores so the boys could come home early; our middle son learning to spackle, and our oldest son making homemade pasta. It’s far from pretty or perfect around here, but I’m sure glad theses kiddos are ours!
March 21, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97821.17: No photos were taken; yet, life went on with plenty of memories and lessons. Kiddos did house chores after their outdoor chores. I hauled hay and fed cattle before giving in to a migraine. In a heartwarming twist, I was reminded the kids love me enough to make sure I’m alive while taking great care to not actually make me move or speak As the day winds down, I’m grateful for health, a loving family, and my very patient husband who works hard without complaint. I’m also grateful the kids enjoy taking responsibility for a daily meal. I did not share their attitude for cooking as a child, and I still don’t most of the time. But, I’m working on it and realize what special gifts lie in the simplest of acts. (P.S. our middle son made ham and cheese omelets plus crepes for supper. He is now looking forward to crock pot cooking next week)
March 22, 2020–Entry 1
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97823.94: Today was a good day to have a good day, so we did. It was a full day! Though we enjoy the current simplicity of life, we don’t take the situation lightly. If you are a friend not in or familiar with agriculture, please know our careers–our businesses–also hang in peril. We are filled with uncertainty, and the effects of decimated markets and industry in-fighting remain to be fully felt. We check on our peers because these are overwhelming times. But, we also laugh. We joke. We choose to find happiness and joy. Our kids deserve that and so do we…so do you Now, enough with the sappy! Back to sarcasm and dry humor tomorrow
March 22, 2020–Entry 2
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97824: That last entry was so serious. Here’s a laugh for the day. The Rancher was good for several of them today, and in full disclosure, it wasn’t long after being a total #boss that I nearly ripped the spout of the feed wagon off on a corner post … I didn’t, but Jay Blum did raise his eye brows at me that time
March 23, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97826.62: There appears to have been a struggle, and our newest child–Not Me–is responsible for it all. In other news … If you have a little wrestler, he might want to take his lunches to school. If you let him take his lunches, he might pack egg salad and sliced chicken breast. If he packs those things, a virus may erupt. If a virus erupts, school may be cancelled. If school is cancelled, your little wrestler’s “whole life’s dreams” may be crushed. If his dreams are crushed, he may forget he packed a lunch. If he forgets, he might remember at bedtime two weeks later. If he remembers, you might gag while throwing out containers. And, if you gag, your little wrestler might cry and say he’s sorry, which means hugs all around and gratitude for disposable containers! … In yet other news, pre-teen girls are beautiful, lovely roses full of sharp, prickly thorns, especially when their long-awaited hair appointments are postponed or their brothers look at them funny or, you know, they are trying to deal with a lot. Luckily, fresh air and a list of chores to be done alone keep the thorns in check so far! Cheers!(~Roses are worth the thorns just like daughters are worth the drama.~)
March 24, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97829.44 (in case you’re like Jay Blum, this is a Star Trek thing, and yes, I really am an unapologetic nerd): National Ag Day meant Dad led history, PE, driver’s ed, and ag mechanics, among other sessions outdoors. He even handled a character counts session with his favorite pre-teen girl (who granted permission for this photo use only). He also provided content for the journal entry, so no funny or clever tonight. Stay safe, friends and family; you are loved.
March 25, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97832.19: The pre-teens have asked not to be shared on social media until or unless they change their minds The middle one has decided girls are too much work to be around so he’ll live in the basement until I die; then, he’ll move upstairs and live with a bunch of cats (he doesn’t even like cats) The little one wishes he could do all his school work in one day, work all day every other day and thinks showering is for the birds … “But, mom, why smell good? People are supposed to stay away from me aren’t they?” Our schedule is more like a guide, and our teachers are gifts straight from God. We grow increasingly grateful to be in the country and are looking forward to calving season … after or without bad weather if requests are allowed!
March 26, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97834.84 (that’s March 26, 2020 at 10:20 pm for you non-nerds): I’ve entered the house only moments ago to realize the pork chops I left warming on the stove for the kids are plenty warm Apparently, when I left at 7:30 to gather a cow in need of calving assistance, the idea of pork chops for supper went with me. Luckily, the children noticed smoke before flames erupted. On the bright side, our house no longer smells like sour calf poop … In other news, we have officially started calving. … In still other news, we are doing well social distancing and with school work at home. Our teachers are rock stars We’re far from perfect, but right now, in this time, we couldn’t ask for anything better. And, there’s today’s lesson: Sometimes it’s worse. Sometimes it’s better. But, our attitude right now is the best and only thing we can actually control. With that, I’m going back to the barn! This house stinks
March 27, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97837.58: While I’ve got a newsfeed full of friends and acquaintances doing all sorts of amazing activities, I’m watching this horrible show called ‘Sports Center’ on some channel called ESPN because I’m too damn tired to get off the couch for the remote. And that’s how this journey goes, boys and girls! It was, however, a good day of great moments, and I’m a pretty blessed lady. Our youngest was especially sweet as he and I moved panels around. The stinking things are heavy, and I’m out of shape. A particularly awkward gate panel was giving me trouble, and I said, “Buddy, I don’t know if I can do this by myself today.” He looked at me so sweetly and said, “You’re my mom. You can do anything.” Lo and behold, he was right. Boom–job done with only slight concern for my ability to move tomorrow (PS: We all took the night off cooking and ate pizza from a box with a side salad from a plastic sack that I probably didn’t wash off when I brought it home.) #balance
March 28, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97840.39: Every day we’re blessed with “normal” is a pretty good day, and today was a routinely normal day Got the feed wagon stuck. (well, I didn’t, but who’s keeping track?) · Couldn’t find the log chain that’s “always” in my tractor. (Well, I didn’t use it for something else and then not return it to the proper place, but does it really matter?) · Jay taught the kids to play blackjack. (Called it ’21’ though and told them it’s a math game.) · Our daughter took my lessons of self-care to heart and went outside to draw. (Might have required forceful prompting and been brought on by a fight with her twin brother, but hey, we’ll take it!) · Ended the night with three generations of Blum Men pulling a backward calf. (Our middle son promptly interrupted the sweet memory with a colorful comment regarding his observations of the birth process … oy vey) And so it goes again#grateful#WeAreRanchers
March 29, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97840.32: Today was a GORGEOUS day (for a nap in the sunshine–and yes, I took one this afternoon without an ounce of guilt for all I “should have” been doing)! Even more divine than the nap were the kids who peacefully played blackjack and kickball outside In other news, sending your non-mechanically inclined wife to find a bolt in a box of “junk” is like asking your husband to retrieve anything from the fridge–probably faster to do it yourself In yet other news, dinner conversation took a turn tonight. Apparently, the kids fear I might never go to the store again, and we may have to start eating each other. After much banter, our youngest was informed he’d be the first one to go because he is “youngest and most tender, not old and tough like Dad”. Without missing a beat, he told the others, “Well fine then! I hope you choke on a bone. It’d serve you right!” Aside from needing new conversation topics, we start and end each day with gratitude, and we are sending love to all we hold dear! #SayNoToCannabalism
March 30, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97845.94: Full days with kids who like to work mean we have WAY more projects than we do energy. Of course, it also means they ask if it’s “time for bed yet” because they are exhausted too. The little humans had several clever quips and sweet moments today. In proving my age, though, I didn’t write myself notes and have forgotten them all. But, I know we all enjoyed laughter and smiles, and quite frankly, that’s the memory I pray we retain from this time. Cheers!
March 31, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97848.7: It was the best of times; it was the okayest of times. It was this thing called life From more independent baking and decorating for our youngest to puzzle time and history lessons with Grandpa & Grandma for our daughter, it was another full day … A bit too full for some of us. I actually hid in the bathroom at one point for some actual quiet. It worked for nearly five whole minutes Bring on tomorrow! #StillGrateful
April 1, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97859.54: The pandemic has prompted Jay Blum to learn technology, and he has been taking pictures. He still doesn’t know how to get them off his phone, but I’ve embraced his resistance to technology as more good reason to keep me around In other news, Jay taught the boys to enjoy early morning calm and the beauty of getting along. Meanwhile, I taught our youngest how to properly open the cap on a beer bottle while our daughter learned the art of tactfully distancing herself from annoying people. (Hopefully, I don’t regret teaching either of those lessons And in my defense, our youngest was baking bread by the way!)#balance#grateful
April 2, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97854.03: I think the kids did some schoolwork today. I know they did some ranch/house work, and I’m quite certain they had fun in between. (Thanks for the family call, Kelly, Brenda, & Laura!) In other news, big day for Jay Blum. He got a “new” tractor for the third time. (ATTN: This is a joke–his tractor’s hour meter actually rolled around from 999,999 to 0!) And, because I still refuse to go shopping, I made my big, tough rancher his very own custom blend coffee creamer#littlethings#runlikeadeere
April 3, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97856.78: Thanks to the current pandemic, we’re finally doing it every day, sometimes multiple times a day. That’s right, after years of only doing it when we felt obligated, we are now running the dishwasher and washing machine at least twice a day. To brighten the day even more, our youngest hugged Jay tonight at bedtime, looked at me and matter-of-factly said, “I’m getting so grown up that I can put my arms around Dad’s whole tummy. That means I could hug a whole horse, not a pregnant horse, but a pretty big horse, I bet!”#dirtyminds#cleandishes#hugahorse#stillgrateful
April 4, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97859.57: Gratitude is an interesting feeling. The more you feel, the more you have. However, even a life full of gratitude and blessings gets heavy. Today felt heavy. I even considered not posting anything because I didn’t want to seem whiny, but to ignore days like today feels fake. So, here’s the deal. Great memories were made: our daughter & Grandma worked on headbands with buttons; Jay got quality time with each of the kiddos, and the little boys decided you can have a nice kitchen even if you don’t have a wife I had a few bright spots of my own. But, the hard, yucky stuff is still just that. It’s okay to feel the weight of stress, worry, or sadness … Do your best not to grab hold of those feelings and drown in them Tomorrow, we shall rest! #gratitudefirst#keepmoving
April 5, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97862.16: The three Fs were precisely what the doctor ordered today … Family, Fresh air, and Feeding cows. Our youngest researched Palm Sunday for us and gave a little report on the day’s meaning. Our middle son and I finished “Trumpet of the Swan” this afternoon, and we all ended the night feeding cows and putting out mineral. Yes, there was also time purposely for some much-needed mental rest and prayer. Our family thanks all of you for reaching out or following along. We appreciate you and enjoy staying connected! #gratitude#ranchlife
April 6, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97864.95: There’s apparently something contagious making its way around the Blum Ranch. I like to call it “nogasitis”. This condition leaves people afoot and causes cussing. It also seems to be passed on from the father to the children because the mother, though not totally immune, knows it takes less time to fill the top half of a tank than it does to walk five miles uphill both ways while cussing in search of a gas can. Sadly, there appears to be no cure for this syndrome; however, I’m told a good woman with a solid vocabulary, a deeply annoyed vocal tone, and an affinity for details helps mimimize syndrome flare ups#fillerup#stillgrateful
April 7, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97867.78: The pre-teen allowed a photo! He also took charge of the aged cow calving barn and pitched a business plan around it. We’ve been working to develop a routine, and I think we’re making progress. The kids seem to especially like the assigned cooking days, which we’ve linked to being their individual laundry day and day off from outdoor chores (unless there’s an emergency or they want to help). In other news, I still dislike farming but remain responsible for a role in it all, so I trained the little one to run the combine. Aside from getting a sore butt from all the sitting, he did exceptionally well as long as I kept his radio cranked and spotted the steering wheel so he could rehydrate once in awhile. There’s a lovely peace in the back and forth of it all, but I also look forward to my retirement And yes, we still have four wonderful, helpful, cooperative, talented children; they simply don’t all like being photographed or talked about at the same time very often! #strongertogether#retirement2021#graceNgratitude
April 8, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97870.52: Lest anyone follows these posts and is fooled: please don’t be! Our house is a constant state of “lived in”. I saw our oldest three children for roughly three and a half hours total: about an hour was spent sorting out who had what for schoolwork; another hour was spent wondering why SmartMusic was being so dumb, and at least another 45 minutes were spent refereeing, which left me 45 minutes to give them meaningful time. I tried but know I didn’t. Our fridge and cupboards are running on fumes, but I haven’t found the headspace it takes me to navigate going to town. Besides, I’m stubborn, and if I’d gone shopping, our night’s chef never would have found a recipe which involved topping a hamburger with a marshmallow. I spent nine hours of the day in the cab of a farm implement and a solid two hours of that on the phone for other work. Oh yeah–the boss had to find a 150′ cable in order to pull a cow from the most idiotic place in the dam by our house; she was dead and so is the newborn calf she followed in. <<–Yep, today was real, which is exactly why I share our moments of humor or joy and not the laundry list of stuff. Our story isn’t told in the hustle and hassle of reality; it is told and remembered in the moments of gratitude, simplicity, and calm. Those are moments we all have even if it feels like we have to look really hard to find them. Find them and hold on!–>>#strongertogether#graceNgratitude
April 9, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97873.1: In case you’re not aware, the sun sets in the west, and 7:30 is a bad time of night to drive into it … Out of the river bottom with a dirty, cracked windshield … Especially if it’s the night you’ve chosen to give driving lessons On the bright side (literally), prayers were answered, and it was a gorgeous, though chilly, night Also, in relationship-saving news, when “the boss” doesn’t like the way you feed fat cattle, you put on your “real boss” pants and let him show you the way … Guess who worked her way out of a job? And, with four kids, you’re near-certain to have the right personality for any job at hand#sunsetprayers#graceNgratitude#strongertogether
April 10, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97876.06: “For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven…” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1 … I’m not very handy with a Bible, but this verse has stuck with me for years. And, it’s the first thought I had when recapping our very good, very full day. Bryce Healy doesn’t like when I stray too far from sarcastic humor and witty banter, so I won’t preach But, I will tell you I believe in the importance of a life with full seasons … Yes, even the yucky, hard ones because that’s where real lessons in growth and purpose can be learned. And, since it was national sibling day, I will say my siblings are simply the best, and they are very lucky to have me#strongertogether#toosleepy2Bfunny
April 11, 2020
Captain’s Log, Stardate 97878.72: Some days you’re saving lives and moving the needle of progress forward. Other days, you’ve run over the battery charger, had two yards of cattle mix themselves up, and not received the much-needed part you ordered … All before noon, when you had really planned a full day of weather prepping On those days, you’re grateful it isn’t all worse, and if you keep looking for the good, you might be reminded exactly how much of it you have all around you! (And, if you don’t see all the good, phone a friend. The good ones will listen, remind you of the good, and listen some more) #gratitudeB4platitude