Happy New Year!

Well, another year has come and gone, and here I sit thinking about all the resolutions I made last year – to spend more time cleaning my house, to blog more, to keep my office more organized, to get in shape…

This year I am resolving to do one thing – take things one day at a time! I’m sure many of you can relate to the pressure of being a ranch wife – not only do you need to cook, clean, launder, file, etc., you also have to keep your kids alive, clean and in school, and on top of that, you are the non-paid hired man that is needed at all the most inconvenient times. I have finally come to the realization that nobody is going to die if my house looks like three teenage boys live here ALONE. There are much more important things in life – like spending time with my family, reading, crafting, sleeping… My point is – don’t kill yourself trying to impress other people with your clean house. Instead, impress everyone with your mad family skills, because in the long run, no one is going to care how clean your house was, but they will remember all those fun times they with you.

Anyway, I don’t really have much to say except that we’re coming up on calving quickly, and life is about to get super busy again, but I am going to do my absolute best to keep this blog updated – and SUSAN is going to contribute as well. After all, she’s only got two cows and they don’t calve till May, so she REALLY doesn’t have an excuse not to blog about her remodeled house and all her retirement excitement. 🙂

Until next time,

Trina Jo


The Life of a Rancher’s Wife

So I asked for some ideas for future blog posts, and my dear friend Bev sent me MANY questions, so I’ll start by answering a few of them at a time, and hopefully I can get through them all in a timely fashion.

What’s a typical day for a ranch wife?

Typical is not in my vocabulary, unless you say I typically never have an ordinary day. 🙂 Lately, my days go like this: get up. Get the girl up. Get her dressed, fed and ready for school. Argue about homeschooling, wearing gloves, getting up early, etc. Get her on the bus. Get home. Eat breakfast. Head out to feed – some days I feed cake in half an hour, some days I’m out till noon turning out pairs and helping my husband with various barn chores. Come home for lunch. Facebook for a while. Work on paperwork. Put something in the crock for dinner, or at least thaw out some meat! Try to get ahead of the housework – never happens. Taxes. Paperwork. Then all of a sudden its time to get Kadence off the bus. Or, if its Tuesday and its my turn to drive, I get three girls off the bus and head to Conrad for gymnastics. Get home around 7:30. Hurry up and feed Kadence and help her with homework. Send her to bed. SIGH. If its not Tuesday, I get Kadence off the bus, do homework. Have a snack. Go out and do barn chores – check cows, take care of things in the barn, put the cows in if its cold. Go home, get dinner on the table. Get the girl to bed. SIGH. Start all over again the next day.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes my days are not really busy, and I can get my house mostly clean AND have dinner ready at a normal time. A lot of the time, between the ranch, the post office (I’m a PMR in Dupuyer) and my photography business, I am so busy rushing that I rarely have time to just chill, except in the evenings, when I refuse to work.

What do you do on winter evenings?

On winter evenings, we watch a lot of TV. Well, my husband does. I read a lot, or Kadence and I do crafts. The worst thing about school is that she has to go to bed by 7, and she doesn’t get off the bus till 4-ish. So that doesn’t give us a whole lot of time for anything besides homework, chores and dinner. But we try.

Do you stockpile some things in case you’re snowed in?

I try to. I have staples – we won’t starve. A freezer full of beef helps. Lots of canned food, and frozen when I can do it. I load up on groceries about once a month. We gave a grocery store 16 miles away, and I try to stock up on things when they have sales. Otherwise, its a couple hours round trip to go to a “big” grocery store.

Do you have a well for water in your area, or what is your water source?

Luckily, we do have a well – two, in fact. We rarely run out of water, so that’s one less thing we have to worry about.

And with that, I’m off to feed and turn out a bunch of pairs. Hopefully I’ll have time in the next couple days to answer more questions!!! And please, KEEP THEM COMING!!!

Until next time,

Trina Jo

Calving Prep!

Hi all,

With two calves on the ground, we are officially calving at the Bradley Ranch! This is my favorite time of the year – I love Christmas, and my birthday month, but really, calving is the best. All these calves running around, being cute, the joy on my daughter’s face every time she sees a new one, the smell of spring in the air, you can’t beat it.

Unfortunately, it is also our busiest time of the year, and with the two of us outside all day taking care of all these babies, there’s no one INSIDE to take care of us. SO, this year I bit the bullet and did what I’ve been trying to make myself do for ten years now – I PLANNED AHEAD.

I bought a couple Tuna Helpers, some frozen lasagna, frozen pizza and I spent three hours preparing freeze-ahead crock pot meals so I won’t have to work so hard inside after working all day OUTSIDE! Mind you, all these meals that I planned ahead will only last about two weeks, but we also have a lot of easy meals like steak and potatoes and MACARONI AND CHEESE in between.

Pinterest is a wonderful, magical place. I found SO many crock pot freezer meals it would make your head spin. The trick, my friends, is to find recipes for things you would actually eat. I am not picky, but my family is pretty limited on what they’ll put in the their mouths. So, here are the recipes I prepared. We haven’t eaten them yet, so I can’t guarantee that they’re delicious, but they LOOK good. 🙂

Sweet Barbecue Hawaiian Chicken

This recipe makes one bag.

4-6 boneless chicken breasts

1/3 cup bbq sauce

1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks, undrained

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 TBS corn starch

Write recipe name and instructions on freezer bag. Add ingredients. Seal bag, mix ingredients, lay flat and freeze.

Directions to write on the bag: Thaw overnight or for 24 hours. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve over rice.

Black Bean Taco Soup

This recipe makes two bags, so split all the ingredients evenly.

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1 package taco seasoning mix

1 16 oz bag frozen corn

2 16 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes

2 8 oz cans tomato sauce

1 4 oz can diced green chilis

1/4 cup olives, sliced

Brown meat and onion, drain. Let meat cool for a minute, then dump into two freezer bags with other ingredients and mix together. Let the excess air out, zip and lay flat.

Directions to write on bag: Thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on high for 1-2 hours or low for 2-3 1/2 hours. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream and guacamole.

Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Alfredo

This recipe makes one bag.

4-5 chicken breasts

2 cups fresh or 1 cup frozen spinach, drained

1 16 oz jar Alfredo sauce

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 4 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained

Write recipe name and instructions on freezer bag. Add all ingredients, seal and mix. Lay flat and freeze.

Directions to write on bag: Thaw overnight or for 24 hours. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with noodles, salad and breadsticks.

Crock Pot Beef and Mushrooms

This recipe makes two bags.

4 pounds stew meat, cubed (I used round steak)

4 10.75 oz cans cream of mushroom soup

4 4 oz cans sliced mushrooms, with liquid

1 cup apple juice or red wine

2 1 oz packages dry onion soup mix

Divide the stew meat and add to two freezer bags. Add two cans or mushroom soup, two cans of mushrooms, 1/2 cup juice or wine and 1 packet of onion soup mix to each bag. Zip closed, lay flat to freeze.

Directions to write on bag: Thaw overnight or for 24 hours. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes or noodles.

Hearty Beef Stew

This recipes makes one bag.

1 pound stew meat, cubed

4 carrots, sliced

4 red potatoes, cut into large cubes

1 package dry onion soup mix

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

1 10 oz package frozen peas

Place all ingredients in freezer bag. Mix and zip closed. Lay flat to freeze.

Directions to write on bag: Thaw in fridge 24 hours. Cook on low for 7-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

Sweet Teriyaki Chicken

This recipe makes one bag.

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup sugar

1 tsp garlic salt

1/2 onion, chopped

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts

Mix together soy sauce, sugar, garlic salt and chopped onion in freezer bag. Place chicken inside the bag and zip closed.

Directions to write on bag: Thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. Serve over rice.

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops and Potatoes

This recipe makes one bag.

1 1/2 pounds pork chops, boneless (about 4-6 chops, thick sliced)

6-8 medium potatoes, chopped into large pieces

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

2 1 oz packages dry Ranch dressing mix

1 cup milk

In a bowl, mix together the soups, milk and ranch dressing mixes and pour into a freezer bag. Combine all other ingredients and zip closed.

Directions to write on bag: Thaw in fridge 24 hours. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Use the extra sauce in the slow cooker as a gravy for the potatoes and pork chops.

If you have any to share with me, please do! I’m always on the look out for something new and fun!

Until next time,

Trina Jo

2015….and so it begins.

When Trina says she hopes I’ll post at least once a week, she means “I hope I don’t have to sit here and hit Sus with this stick until she posts.”
So I’m posting. Have a bit of news……we sold all our cows (except two) in the Fall (of 2014). It was a decision long in coming, but apparently a very good one, as we have no regrets at all.
We sit and have our coffee in the morning, and just smile as we watch the snow get higher and the temp get lower.
This Winter has started a lot like last Winter…..windy, cold and lots of snow. Was a tough calving season. That’s when the decision to sell first came up. I was watching my husband doing something and just said to myself, “This is it; we can’t do this anymore.”
Then we had an unexpected little flood the end of February – yes, a flood in Feb.!!!! – and the water was rising so we started moving cows and calves to higher ground. The last two calves were really young and kept trying to run back to the last place they saw their mamas.
Every time you stopped to catch your breath, they’d run back across the water. I thought my husband was going to have a heart attack, and actually wasn’t too sure I wouldn’t too.
He said if there was ever any question that we were selling, there was no doubt now! So we finally got the calves with there moms, we didn’t die, and the water started going down!
I did keep two cows; a pet and another one to keep her company. So I still have cows, so I’m still a rancher! Notice I said “I” kept two cows. The husband didn’t support this choice, and said he wasn’t having anything to do with them. I have yet to have to feed them in all this crappy weather. He says I’d break something. It’s always best to let the husband think he’s right, Hahahahahahahaha!
Trina just hit me with the stick and said I’m getting too wordy, so better go.
See you next week!  Sus

A New Dawn, A New Day

Wow. My last post was almost a year ago…I really need to keep up on this!!!
Here’s an update – we finished calving, got everything branded, got our cows out to summer pasture…the summer was a BLUR. I still haven’t caught up and now we’re weeks from calving again!
Some exciting things from my year:
Our daughter, Shayna, is having a baby at the end of February! I am both excited and horrified to be a grandmother…excited because, well, obviously…horrified, because I’m 35…but, I’ll be the cool, young grandma and that works for me.
Our daughter, Kadence, got a sassy Shetland pony in July named Salsa – and boy is she spicy – and she and Kadence have become great friends. Kadence and Salsa will start barrel racing this summer – which also excites and horrifies me!
I got a new horse a couple weeks ago – a beautiful, gentle red roan named Jim. I am working on putting some weight on him now, and I think by spring he’ll be ready for some long hours. I sure have missed riding, so I am working hard to get myself in good shape by then so it won’t hurt so bad!!!
We made it through fall – gathering, preg testing, shipping, and then we had a nice month of November where we basically did nothing.
So here’s my new year’s resolution – I will do my best to post at least every other week, and Sus will do the same – I hope…
If there’s anything you want us to talk about, please feel free to ask!!! We’re here for you. 😉
Until next time….
Trina Jo


Wow, its been a while! Here’s an update (and an excuse why I haven’t written for two months). We’re almost done calving – 18 to go!!! I’ve finally convinced the weather to cooperate to get a few more photo shoots done – I still have one senior to finish before he graduates next month! We branded at a neighbor’s house a couple weekends ago – always a good time visiting and checking in with people we haven’t seen forever. Last weekend we branded at my dad’s house, which meant on top of getting our butts worked off we also get to have a semi family reunion – both my brothers and my sister were there, so that always makes for a good time!
We’re branding this weekend – and yes, of course the forecast says we’re going to get snow on Saturday and the high will be 31 degrees. SO, my husband decided this morning we’d better brand Friday instead. Which means we have a smaller crew, which means I will somehow manage to spend the day in the corral working cows and helping brand, as well as finding time to put lunch together in some sort of orderly fashion. Don’t feel bad – I’d MUCH rather be in the corral than in the kitchen, but alas…that’s my lot in life. Its not a lot, but its my life. (Feel free to laugh out loud for my benefit. I’m feeling witty today.)
Those of you that are ranchy know how much work there is to do leading up to branding. Yesterday morning, we moved all the cows closer to the barn, and then I showered and headed the 100 miles to the nearest “big” city (Great Falls) and spent the day getting branding supplies and food. Unfortunately, that meant a trip to my FAVORITE (did you hear the sarcasm?) store WALMART. My first cart was filled to the brim with beer, pop, bottled water and paper plates. Check out, take it to the car, unload, go back in, spend the next two hours filling the cart AGAIN to the brim with food for lunch. Check out, deal with the absolutely RUDE women behind me in line – I don’t care if you speak spanish, or any language, but don’t get all up in my space and then be rude to me in spanish when I tell you to move so I can pay for my damn groceries…take it to the car, unload, call husband – I’M DONE!!! – and then crap…I forgot batteries for the hot shot…BACK into the store. I swear I’m going to shoot someone. Maybe carrying a gun in my purse is a bad idea…Why is everyone in the city of Great Falls at Walmart RIGHT NOW?!?!?! Get in the car…breathe…

Today, I’m paying bills, editing pictures, making graduation announcements, cleaning the house, putting the groceries away, and then I’m off to a 4-H meeting, and then gymnastics, and then a school board meeting. My husband is just as busy – fixing the corrals, getting all his branding supplies in one place, figuring out who’s going to do what on Friday…its a big week.

I don’t know that this post has a point – I just wanted to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you. 🙂

Now that she's six, she's FINALLY big enough to push calves!

Now that she’s six, she’s FINALLY big enough to push calves!

What I learned…

My daughter loves EVERYTHING about ranching, especially the new calves!

My daughter loves EVERYTHING about ranching, especially the new calves!

Growing up, we were the kids that had to do CHORES. We were also in the corral, riding and working cows as soon as we could talk.

There wasn’t time for going to movies, or being in EVERY extra-curricular activity, or “hanging out” after school. there was work to be done. IT WAS SO UNFAIR.

“All my friends get to have a job in town – why can’t I?”

“All my friends get to have their own car – why can’t I?”

“All my friends get to sleep till noon on Saturday – why do I have to get up and WORK?”


We missed out on EVERYTHING. It was so UNFAIR.

What DID I learn while I was stuck at home working?


I learned to listen. To my dad, my mom, God. They knew was was best for me.

I learned to treat tje land and the animals with respect – they are our livelihood.

I learned how to work. HARD. Did it hurt me at all to get up at 6 a.m. to milk the cow EVERY DAY? Nope. And i had one hell of a grip.

I learned you get out of life what you put into it.

I learned how to read a cow. How to know when to zig when she zags. How to tell when she’s bluffing, and how to get out of the way when she’s not.

I learned the more kids you have, the more free labor you have. then again, my parents did feed me and clothe me and house me, so I guess that’s a pretty good paycheck.

I learned there’s more than one way to skin a cat, but if you’re not going to do it daddy’s way, you’d better be damn sure your way is going to work!

I learned to speak up. Turns out, the old man might be open to trying something new if you can just muster the courage to suggest it.

I learned your horse really can be your best friend. AND he makes a great fall guy when the cow gets away that you’ve spent 20 minutes sorting out.

I learned to think like MacGyver. Who needs to buy new parts when you have twine and duct tape?

I learned that no matter how bad it is, it can always be worse.

I learned that growing up working alongside your siblings and your parents really isn’t that bad.

I learned that money isn’t everything. My parents taught us to do what we could with what we had. We always had food on the table, and we never missed a holiday. I appreciated my parents as a kid, but I appreciate how hard they worked for us so much more now that I’m in their shoes.

I learned that growing up in the country, getting dirty, working your heart out is SO much better than growing up in the city with all the finest things, not even knowing where your food comes from.

Most importantly, I learned that doing what you love with who you love is the most important thing in the whorld, and I thank God every day that He has provided this life for my family.

They say the American cowboy is a dying breed, but I disagree. We’re still alive and well, all over the country. But, in the words of Chris LeDoux, you just can’t see us from the road.

Until next time,

Trina Jo

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Hi All,

Just wanted to let you know we haven’t forgotten about you! We have been busy, busy, busy here at the Bradley Ranch, and I am sure Sus have been just as busy at the Anderson Ranch. We are due to start calving in about two weeks, so we’ve been to town to get supplies, we’ve built a new maternity pen for our barn – well, not we, my husband – and on top of that I’ve had a TON of editing work to finish out my Class of 2014!
I’ll try to keep in touch during calving, and of course we’ll have PLENTY of cute photos to share!

You can check out what I’ve been working on at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dragonfly-Photography/319073140527. 🙂

Until Next Time,

Trina Jo

What Should I Make?!

If you’re a ranch wife like me, I know you’ve been faced with this question NUMEROUS times. The hard part is not finding something delicious to make for all those neighbors and friends that come help work cows, its finding something delicious that makes ITSELF.

Here’s how my morning on a typical cattle working day goes – I get up at dawn, throw a bunch of stuff in the crock or oven, get my daughter up and fed and ready, then rush out to the corral, where we spend all morning working cows. THEN, while the men stand around and BS for a few minutes, I rush to the house, set the table, finish the meal, whip up anything extra that I need, make two pots of coffee, and HOPEFULLY have that all done before they crowd into my not-big-enough-for-ten-people kitchen.

I used to make roast and potatoes EVERY TIME, because that was easy, and it cooks in one pot, and its done when I get to the house. HOWEVER, roast and potatoes bores the crap out of me. So, I started testing new things on these boys, and I have to say they’ve been pretty accepting of my attempts at gourmet cooking. So, I’ll share a few of my favorite recipes with you.

Pizza Casserole is a recipe I got from my stepmother, who got it from Country Favorites, a cookbook published by the Dupuyer Community Club like a hundred years ago. Its wicked easy to throw together the night before, and then just put in the oven before you go out, and AS LONG AS YOU QUIT FOR LUNCH WHEN YOUR HUSBAND PROMISES YOU’RE GOING TO, it turns out splendidly. Add a tossed salad, some garlic bread and some kind of dessert, and you’ve got a meal fit for a king.

My favorite go-to meal is Taco Soup. Its so easy a caveman could do it. Brown the burger, open a bunch of cans, and voila! Dinner is served. Dump a bag of tortilla chips in a bowl and shred some cheese (or buy it already shredded like I do) and again, simple meal. This one is the best for when you know you’re not going to have any time either in the morning, or when you break for lunch, because sometimes let’s face it – there’s a lot of cows out there and not a whole lot of time in the day to be spent in the house.

Do you have some go-to recipes you’d like to share? I’d love to have them!!!

Until next time,

Trina Jo

Pizza Casserole

1 (4 oz) pkg. pepperoni, sliced

1 cup Swiss cheese, grated

1/2 tsp. oregano

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

6 oz. spaghetti, cooked

1 med. onion, chopped (I actually use about one slice of an onion)

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 lb. Mozzarella cheese, grated

1 (4 oz) can mushroom stems and pieces

Boil pepperoni to remove excess fat for five minutes in water to cover; drain well. Saute onion in 1 tablespoon butter. Pour remaining butter into a 13×9 dish. Place cooked spaghetti in baking dish; toss to cover with butter. Cover with half of the tomato sauce. Add in order: half of grated Swiss cheese, half of pepperoni, half of grated Mozzarella cheese, all the mushrooms and onions. Sprinkle with oregano. Top with remainder of tomato sauce, Swiss cheese, pepperoni and finally the Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 6.

(If you cook it at a lower temp you can leave it in the oven longer. I double this recipe for eight-ten guys, because my brothers eat. A LOT.)

Crock Pot Taco Soup

2 pounds ground beef

1 med to large onion, chopped

2 can corn, undrained

2 can black beans, undrained

2 cans chopped tomatoes with chiles

1 cans kidney beans, undrained

2 small cans tomato sauce

1 envelope taco seasoning

2 cans chilies

1 can chopped jalepenos

Brown burger with onion. Drain well and put in crock. Add all other ingredients. Stir well. Cook on low for four to six hours. When serving, top soup with broken tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese.


Trina, aka the Young Cow, did a wonderful job of introductions.  I just wanted to welcome you all to our new blog, too!  I’m the Old Cow, Sus.  There will be no mistaking me for a heifer.  To be honest, an efficient outfit would have culled me a long time ago.  I’m the kind you run open, because “she’s always been such a good old cow…..let’s give her one more chance.”  So what I lack in productivity, I make up for in experience.

Something important you should know about both of us is that we both grew up on ranches working for our dads.  I can already see some of your heads nodding.  So for those of you just starting out working with family, we’ve been there, done that, so please feel free to use us for advice, as  a sympathetic ear, or a shoulder to cry on.

Also know that while we say we hope to give advice, we welcome your ideas too, so please feel free to share great ideas and information.  With calving starting soon, we can all help each other.  There are no stupid questions!!!!!