Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Essay Series #1: Gratefulness Journal

Things I Am Grateful For Today:

For the sun, shining warm and bright, making everything clear and positive-looking
For the residual scent of the rain that fell last night, gentle thunder announcing itself

For the ability to see. Birds, grass, water, flowers, and most importantly, people
For my little car, dependable and fun to drive, it gets me where I need to go
For music....what would life be without it??

For being able to walk. For having shoes to wear--lots of them
For the changing seasons, which I love so much

For clothing, so much that I could clothe several other people, and a warm coat for winter.
For a roof over my head and a place to rest at the end of the day

For electricity, clean running water, heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.
For not only having enough to eat, but having so many choices

For being safe at home, in my city, in my country.
For the people I care about, and because they are doing well.

For interests that fulfill me and challenge me
For having access to good medical care when I need it
For having a say in who governs my country, and when I disagree, the freedom to express that
For various kinds of help that's only a phone call away

And, I am really grateful for work that has purpose: I get to see people succeed.

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, June 12, 2017

I Want To Be A Cowboy

Have you ever thought of working on a ranch with horses and cattle?

A cowboy/cowgirl handles mostly cattle or cows, with similar duties as a wrangler.
A person who works mostly with horses is called a 'wrangler.' Here are some of the responsibilities of a wrangler or a cowgirl/cowboy:
  • Examinations for health purposes
  • Vaccinations
  • Feeding
  • Branding
  • Training
  • Keeping their stalls clean/mucking out
  • Transporting them by horse trailer
  • Grooming
  • Shoeing (horses)
  • Assisting in foaling with horses (birthing), or calving with cows
  • Wranglers sometimes find work in motion pictures and television when horses are needed
  • Machinery repair
  • You may be driving a pickup truck a fair amount of the time as well.

                                                                 Shoeing a horse

                                                           Wranglers often have dogs to help them herd cattle.

                                                    *****History lesson*******

After the Ice Age, horses and their relatives were largely extinct in what is now North America. The Spanish brought horses with them in the 16th century, and the horses thrived and reproduced throughout the country. Spanish 'cowboys' are called Vaqueros.  Cattle were largely wild, and the horses were captured and tamed to help herd the cows in groups for ownership by ranchers.

Cowboys were literally once boys: they started helping with horse and cow management at the age of 12 or 13. We have since learned that a grown adult is much better at handling and managing these large and heavy animals.

Did you know that a saddle weighs between 20 and 30 pounds, and a horse from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds?

This is not a job for someone who knows nothing about horses!

Keep in mind also that being a cowboy, cowgirl, wrangler, or ranch hand is physically demanding work that you will do outside 99% of the time (the other 1% may be taken up bandaging blisters and applying ice packs!)
There is a great deal of heavy lifting, with the possibility of back injuries.
You may fall or be thrown off the horse, be kicked by the horse, or bitten by the horse, as well as sprains and pulled muscles: you are trying to manage an animal that weighs close to a ton.
When you are not on a horse you will be on your feet.

You will not get days off because the weather is bad, and animals need maintenance 24/7, 365 days a year.
You will be dirty most of the time, and tired as well.

You will probably find that other people working at the same ranch aren't terribly social: They prefer the horses' company to humans. If you are also like that, you'll fit right in.

Another way to become involved with horses or other farm/ranch animals is to become a veterinarian or vet tech specializing in equines or farm animals.

If you want to own a ranch instead of only working on one, what skills would you need?

  • Business set-up skills
  • Goal Setting
  • Marketing--how do you let people know about your business?
  • Accounting--managing your money
  • Managing your supplies
  • Managing your animals
  • Managing your employees
  • Meeting any government requirements
  • Maintaining your land and equipment
  • Relationships with other businesses and the local Chamber of Commerce
  • Will you want a website for your ranch? Who will design and maintain it?

Most ranches are in the western or southern states of the U.S. such as Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, etc. You would probably need to move to one of these states to find work on a ranch.

How can you see if this is a job you would like?

Try visiting a dude ranch:

Attend a cattle auction, here are some in Minnesota:

To get a feel for the way cattle and horses are handled,
Attend rodeo school:

Here are rodeos in Minnesota:


Cowboys at work:

Here's a man who has learned the power of massage for horses: 

And a YouTube video:

Ready to saddle up?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Tiny Houses

There's a new trend in housing: Tiny houses.
Some facts about tiny houses:

  • They are usually built on a platform with wheels so they can be moved easily
  • Space-efficient:storage is tucked away everywhere
  • Sometimes they are solar-powered
  • They can be built by the owner or someone else
  • Tiny homes have features like any other house, only on a smaller scale, including washers, air conditioning, bathrooms, electricity
  • They can be as tiny as 65 square feet up to about 900 square feet (the size of a 1960s rambler is about 1100 square feet)
  • They are kinder to the planet: They use less materials to build, less electricity or gas for fuel, and create less waste
Here's some facts about housing costs--quite eye opening:
Less stuff: How much do we really need?
George Carlin about stuff:
  • Smaller spaces are cheaper to heat and air-condition
  • Minimal outside and inside maintenance
  • Less stuff = less to clean up
  • You'd learn to be better at food consumption--not a lot of storage
  • You could live by the advice of: Make do, use it up, do without
  • Deciding what to wear would not be a problem
  • Cleaning house would take very little time
  • They discourage consumerism, the habit of obtaining more to impress others
  • As such, a tiny house confirms that 'things' aren't going to make you happy
  • You will value and take care of those few things you really want to have
  • You could stay in one place or move whenever you wanted to
  • If your neighbors bother you, you can just move
  • If you know someone with land, you could park your tiny house there and pay no rent
  • You may be able to use campground hookups to temporarily park your home
  • You won't need any yard equipment: Lawn mower, snow blower. A shovel for snow, maybe. There's nowhere to put them anyway.
  • It is your own home, as opposed an apartment
  • Would you rather have a tiny house that's affordable, or a big house you can barely pay for?

Here are some ways a tiny house makes better use of minimal space:
  • If you like to have a lot of stuff, that would be a problem
  • Close quarters can make it hard to live with someone-or not
  • With a roommate, you'd have to agree on what stuff to bring into the house
  • Often, the bed or one of the beds will be in a loft with very little headroom
  • Permits to park your tiny house can be difficult to get
  • Also, hookups for water or electricity might be a problem sometimes
  • You would not have a garage. This could be a problem in a state with a long winter.
  • You would need a P O Box to use as your address, perhaps one in several areas, in order to receive mail.
  • Having an established doctor might be an issue

The first thing you'd have to do if you were considering a Tiny House, is to pare down your belongings to a bare minimum. This is, of course, hard to do if you already have a 'regular' sized house or apartment. If you are still living with your parents and/or in an apartment, it might be easier.
Here's one company that builds them or sells kits so you can do it yourself. Check out a few of their models:
Here's a video tour of a tiny house:
Here's a tiny house that's pretty fancy:
Here's a little community of Tiny Houses in Portland, Oregon:
Besides the obvious advantage of saving money on a house, imagine what they could do for the homeless: Wouldn't it be better to have somewhere safe, warm, and dry to sleep at night? A place where you call home, no matter how small? Check this out: People building tiny houses for the homeless:
 What do you think? Could you live in a tiny house? Would it be rewarding to you? Does it make you re-think traditional housing?