Brown Christmas in Kansas 2010

Today I'll spend most of my time on Christmas pursuits--wrapping presents, baking cookies, a bit of housecleaning and then finishing my last minute shopping. I love Christmas on a ranch--we have an old fashioned tree, and we decorate our house with outgrown cowboy boots and greenery with lots of lights and twine and red bows! Of course, with five teenagers, I have plenty of boots that they have outgrown!

The kids are all on their way to Grandma & Grandpa's house for their annual sleepover with the cousins. They started this tradition when all the kids were little. They help Grandma decorate her tree, make a batch or two of cookies and make a present for their parents. When the kids were young, Grandma and Grandpa had their hands full with my five and my sister's two kids--all about the same age! Now, she has a houseful of teenagers who are excited to cook marshmallows in the fireplace, play board games with their cousins and just hang out with the grandparents. Such an awesome tradition!

As we enjoy the beautiful weather in Kansas and prepare for a special holiday weekend, I am reminded of last year and the frenzied preparations for the massive winter storm that was predicted and hit on Christmas Eve. We moved cows to a different winter pasture where we didn't have to drive more than a mile to get feed to them. The 250 heifers had to be left in winter grass, but we bedded them down near a wind break so they could be a bit protected from the predicted snow. If you are interested, go read my blog post from last Christmas: Aftermath of Christmas Snow Storm.

Christmas Day was memorable! The kids reminded me that after getting up early to open presents, every one of us bundled up in long underwear, coveralls, hats and two pairs of gloves to head outside to take care of the 500 head of cattle on our ranch. We got about a foot of snow and it blew and drifted for more than a week!

We spread out bales of straw for the cattle lie in for warmth, extra hay and some grain to eat so they could stay warm, chopped ice on the water so they could drink and used the tractor and skid loader to move snow out of the way.  At the same time, the road crews were out trying to stay ahead of the falling and drifting snow on the highways, but we were unable to head to Grandma's for Christmas Day celebrations. Even if the roads had been clear, we spent the entire day taking care of cattle. Once the snowfall stopped and we had all the animals bedded down, fed and watered, it was evening and we were bone-tired. We ate a hot meal and ended up going to bed early, so that we could be ready to get up the next morning and do it all over again.

So you must understand when I say that I am not disappointed that it looks like it will not be a White Christmas in Kansas this year. The normal feeding chores don't take much time each day--we still make sure the cattle are all  bedded down and happy, but it is much easier without the white stuff getting in the way! Cold weather cattle ranching can be rough, but satisfying!

So I'll spend the next few days helping with cattle chores, but I'll also have plenty of time to finalize everything for a "normal" Christmas celebration--with focus on the birth of Jesus, instead of the care of his animals. Of course, we'll have to be outside for a few hours on Christmas Day to do all the normal daily chores of feeding and caring for cattle, but it won't be all day and we will get to spend a bit of time in the recliner, sipping a hot toddy and playing games with the family!

Merry Christmas to you and all your family--enjoy a good hot beef meal and think of the ranchers who work every day (including Christmas) to care for the cattle who provide that meal for you.


  1. We are having a White Christmas, and chances are we'll have white stuff on the ground through at least March- based on avg. temps. Christmas morning, we'll get up and cake cows, and chop troughs in the river so the cows can water that morning. :-) I love my life!

  2. They've updated the forecast and we now have 1-3 inches of snow predicted to fall tonight through Friday morning. We can handle that!! Have a great Christmas, SD Cowgirl!

  3. I hope you had a fantastic Christmas - the idea of using outgrown boots for decorations sounds adorable!

  4. Wow I love your Blog, great stories and images.I was in Independence KA spending time with Bud Williams back in Sept and it was not cold then, in fact it was quite warm.Looks cold for an Aussie in the middle of summer.
    As someone who teaches Stockhandling and Marketing using bud's methods it is always good to see what other livestock producers are doing.
    My blog is not as fancy as yours,
    Happy new Year

  5. This reminded me alot of when I grew up. Alot of Christmas day was always spent taking care of the livestock. We lived in southern Colorado then, I have since moved to south Texas...little to no snow! Can't say I miss it much!

    Have a happy new year!


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