Holy cow! Another Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye. The weather has been a little wacky, and it snowed a day late (still thankful for the moisture though!). The food… oh boy, oh boy, THE FOOD! And the people, well, they’re the best around. This post is all about Christmas for my family, because it sure was a great one.
Let’s start with the Christmas tree, shall we? A little last minute, but it seems that’s the only way things get done around here! Mom and I went to our J Bar A Ranch on the 17th to find the PERFECT tree. And, important side note here: It is safe to say that not once in my 20 years has getting a tree been anything but entertaining and usually an adventure. So, with Michael Buble’s Christmas album in my Ford truck CD player, we were on our way. After scoping out a few promising prospects, we finally decided on the one… One which we determined was the smallest one… One which we determined was nice and plump and had plenty of branches and all that jazz… One which, once the sawing had begun, seemed to grow exponentially… As they seem to do EVERY year… Once the tree was on the ground, the snapchat story was inevitable…
So, with mom clicking away on my phone, I began to drag this tree to the truck… A LONG WAY might I add.
The process of getting the tree on the ground, then to the truck, then into the bed of the truck, then lifted high enough for the tailgate to close safely was a process filled with lots of selfies (of course), giggles and jokes that probably would not be funny unless you were there and understood the relationship between my mom and I. We headed back down to the ranch house and decided we better get the tree out of the truck as quickly as possible as to not worry my grandpa Warner when he rode up and saw it (like I said, it grew at some point between the sawing and the loading and the unloading. But, good news! We figured out that it only looked really big when it was standing up, so we promptly placed it on the ground at the perfect angle as to not cause Warner immediate shock, though he should be used to this kind of thing by now!). Warner rode up not two minutes later, and we calculated and used that thing called logic to determine the safest and best way to haul the tree home to the Malpai. Warner loaded the three mules he had with him that day (one he rode and two he led behind him, packing supplement salt blocks that he dispersed for the cattle throughout the ranch), and then we loaded the tree with the help of a good friend who was working at the house.
Mom and Warner were able to unload the tree when they got home to the Malpai, and mom and I decorated it the next day (5 strands of clear lights, 25 animal brushkins ornaments, 146 shiny and patterned red, brown, gold, silver, black and jaguar print balls/pinecones/acorns, and a heavier-than-you-might-expect wooden and metal star later… we had ourselves a decked out tree! Complete with deer antlers, a Purina cattle mineral tub base, seriously heavy rocks as anchors, a few burlap animals and, of course, EAT BEEF marquee letters to round out the design). It sure is a sight to see… and will be one until at least February! We just got it, after all!
Saturday the 19th, mom and I ventured up to Tucson, AZ for the second annual International Stockmen’s day at Vaquero Feed Store (thank you to sponsors Animal Health Express- Barbara Jackson, Boehringer Ingelheim- Jim Loughead, and Allflex-Ann Henderson). Agenda/discussion items included herd health issues for beef cattle (led by Dr. Gary Thrasher) and marketing cattle (Mexico and USA) (led by Johnny Fleischer and Clay Parsons). This meeting, and one my family hosted a couple weeks back at the Malpai Ranch (see photo captions), are designed to promote collaboration, friendship, and open communication for ranchers on either side of the US/Mexico border. As cattle ranchers, our ultimate goal is to provide the best possible care for our cattle and other livestock so that we may raise the highest quality beef for consumers.
Now back into the Christmas swing of things… The first part of Christmas week I was busy making fudge for my family and some family friends. And let me tell you, ambition in the kitchen is amazing until you have burned straight through the midnight oil and are ready to not see fudge again for another year! Many, many trays and mini cupcake cups later, the goodie boxes were complete!
By the time I was ready to pack all that fudge, I was also ready to blog about it, just to prove I made it through! Flavors for this year included pistachio cranberry white chocolate, peanut butter cup, Andes mint, Heath bar, gingerbread, and maple walnut. Wondering what the grand total number of pieces was? Well… As minimally impressive as it may seem, 650 pieces of fudge is a heck of a lot!
Fast forward to a brief wrap up of Christmas Eve, Warner, my mom, dad and I spent the evening at the Malpai, had venison for dinner and opened our presents. Christmas Day, we hosted some really great friends at the Malpai, and ate BEEF for lunch!
Shoutout to my momma for cooking both amazing meals this year!!!
As the week winds down and the snow from last night melts quickly (this is southern AZ after all!), I am reminded of how incredibly blessed I am to have such a loving family, so many friends that I consider family, a great country to live in, beautiful ranches to work and amazing cattle to raise, and a crazy life to live. Thank you to everyone in my life, I love you all so much. Remember that even after the holiday season, it doesn’t hurt a thing to be generous and compassionate. Merry Christmas!
I should really be getting to bed I ‘spose, busy week ahead… I spy a blog post coming soon about what next week holds (boots, livestock, food, friends and what’s sure to be a great time… stay tuned!).
And, as always, here’s to good friends, great food and healthy cattle!
2 Comments Add yours
Hello Mackenzie, this is Joe in Evans, GA. Just got your book. I have only had time to look at each page. What a book. It is great for you to share the great history of your family and all the great recipes. It is great to see how others in this great country live. I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes. Tell your Mom I said Hello.
Thanks so much Joe! Hope all is well with you and yours.