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Posts Tagged ‘Ranch Life’

Jiggity Jig

Posted on: May 8th, 2012 by Lisa Hampton 4 Comments

 

Wyoming 2012

Home again, home again, jiggity jig…

Whoever wrote that certainly wasn’t returning from almost THREE full months on the road with two kids.  It was more like “Home again, home again, collapse at the door…”

Yes, three (3) months.  What started as a two year commitment to travel with the kids and homeschool them has, over the past three months, turned into a true once-in-a lifetime adventure we never could have imagined.  I can say in all honesty that given the opportunity, I would do it all over again.  But, if you had showed me last fall a map and calendar of what 2012 was shaping up into, I think I probably would have chickened out. 

Maybe that’s why God doesn’t lay out everything He has in store for us all at once.  Consider all the things we would miss in life when the mountain in front of us looks too high to climb.

Well, I guess that brings me back here, home after almost three full months traveling in an SUV on the road with two very active and energetic young boys.  And where is here?  Well, it’s a state of exhaustion, amazement, enlightenment, and sheer awe at all the truly wonderful things and people we met and visited along the way. 

 Elko 2012

We began the adventure at the end of January with a trip back to the annual National Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival in Elko, Nevada.  Neither of these boys had been to Elko and I hadn’t been back with R.W. in years.  The best thing about Elko and its legendary gathering – it never changes.  It is pure “cowboy” in so many ways and yet it constantly seeks to show how our culture is so connected to similar cultures and people from around the world who are so very different but have much in common.  The artistry displayed, heard and shared at Elko is like nowhere else; a venerable feast for the cowboy (or cowgirl) spirit.  Buckaroos, cowpunchers, vaqueros, ranchers, friends, fans, family – they all gather for one week to experience the expression of that spirit and to feed their own souls with music, poetry, stories, art, culture, and friends.

Two days up to Elko through Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada, a four day stay for the gathering, then another two days back home.  The following week at home flew by with doctor appointments, business meetings, church meetings, a Boy Scout banquet that required a cake and table center-piece, car tune up and oil change, surgery on a sick horse, and setting up everything for the five-week trip we were about to embark upon. Not to mention the usual stuff that goes on like home-school, music business, ranch chores, and dealing with a winter storm.

Tennessee 2012

Then it was off to the East! With the excitement of a new adventure we loaded up and pointed the SUV towards Texas. And then Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee where we started out the musical portion of the trip in Nashville with R.W. filming a couple of music videos right down on Music Row.  The next day R.W. was invited to a singer-songwriter night at Douglas Cafe and connecting with both new friends (including the up-and-coming new group The Henningsens (who have written several top hits for The Band Perry), and old friends (like cowboy partner Dave C. who manages Charlie Daniels, and fellow Savannah Music artist, Michelle Wright).  No matter what industry you are in, it is always great re-connecting with the folks you hope to work with in the future. 

From Nashville it was off to Pigeon Forge for a four day festival called Saddle Up (one of our personal favorites!), then down to Chattanooga, farther south to Georgia, back up to Chattanooga, over to South Carolina, up to North Carolina, and then Virginia for over a week at the Williamsburg Film Festival. From there we headed back West through West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma… You get the picture.

Inside Raccoon Mtn, TN 2012

TN. Racoon Mtn.2012

Along the way we went caving in Chattanooga, had a blast at Rock City, visited Wade Hampton III’s homes in Columbia, SC.

Pillars remain at WadeHamptonIIIs.2012

We toured historic Jamestown and Williamsburg, where we all spent some time in the stocks.  The boys and I spent an afternoon at the beach on the Atlantic side of America and even got to watch the regal USS Enterprise ship out on her final deployment before she is decommissioned.

In the Stocks in Williamsburg.2012

Somewhere along the way we toured the Great Smoky Mountains, Monticello, Greenbrier Resort, Churchill Downs and the majestic Gateway Arch in St Louis, Mo among other things.

Monticello.Spring2012.photo by Denver Crowder

The Boys on the steps of Monticello

Jefferson's Gardens.2012

You might think that after those five weeks a little rest was in order, but no, thankfully R.W. had another job waiting for him in Texas the next weekend to help pay for all our fun!  So after five days of “rest” and unpacking, repacking, ranch repairs, another car tune-up, and several kids’ activities it was time to load up and head back to Northeast Texas for another five days on the road.  (Thankfully for me, this was an “all male event” so I was able to stay home and at least get the laundry caught up!)

Home again, home again, jiggity jig… for another five day stretch of rest, repairs, and repacking then off to West Texas to our daughter’s hometown to celebrate  Easter with her, her husband, their two boys, and a bunch of his side of the family.  Not a bad little trip at all but we were starting to feel the miles each time we clicked those seatbelts on.

Driving... some more

After a big four day rest it was off again! Destination: Kansas… in tornado season no less.  As the weather reports started warning of one of the biggest storm systems in current history R.W. and one of the boys loaded back up for what our son was convinced was going to be a “really exciting” trip to see a tornado.  Fortunately for me, as I was a nervous wreck waiting at home, the excitement didn’t turn out like he had hoped and the event which was to be held outdoors at a local riding arena was moved to a theater downtown that also doubled as a storm-shelter.  Unfortunately, for the good folks putting on the event, the attraction of holding the concert in a location that doubled as a storm shelter still wasn’t enough to convince a good portion of those who had planned on attending to leave their homes and brave the unknown forecasted weather.

With the excitement behind them the boys returned home with a little less jiggity jig for a whopping two day rest.  With over twenty states covered in less than 2 1/2 months it was time to complete the circle of the Central United States by heading west again, this time to Santa Clarita, California just north of Los Angles.

As we once again loaded suitcases, CDs, a plastic crate of our school books & lesson plans, R.W.’s guitar, hats, boots, a few toys, a box of office work I hoped to finish, and assorted drinks, snacks and cell phones I had to laugh at how we had managed to perfect our use of space. Even our five year old knew the drill by heart and loaded without complaint.  (Of course it didn’t hurt that there were a few days set aside for family fun at Disneyland ahead either!)

Goofy and Ethan being... goofyThe next 13 days included travel days across New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California; a quick visit to one of our sons who is stationed at the Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Base; several days at the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Music Festival, two days in the recording studio working on some new songs, a visit to Disneyland with four generations of our family present, an afternoon visiting the Grand Canyon, and the drive back across Arizona and New Mexico. 

 The Grand Canyon.2012

Yes, by the time we got back late last Monday night our jiggity jig was completely gone.  But can you imagine missing all or any of that?  What an adventure! What a great experience for our boys!  What memories we have made!  What fantastic things they have learned and people they have met!

So, another week at home and although it was full of unpacking, repacking, shipping orders, homeschool, cleaning house, cleaning up the yard, and end of the school year activities we seem to have gotten our jiggity jig back so we head out again for Texas this afternoon.  Each time it’s been a little harder to load up and drive off, but we won’t ever have the chance to make those miles and memories again, so why not? 

Our travel times with our youngest boys won’t last forever so we cherish these trips plus it’s even more fun having you along for the ride. And, essentially we owe it all to you, because without you and your support we wouldn’t have the chance to share this wonderful country without children this way. Without you, R.W. would just be a great voice singing around the campfire in some remote cow-camp.  I can’t imagine our life without you, so I’m so glad you have not only joined us on our adventure – but you are the whole reason for it!

Thanks!  The Hamptons, Lisa, R.W., and of course, “the boys”

Week 33

Posted on: May 6th, 2012 by Lisa Hampton 6 Comments

So how do you travel to 22 states in 3 months with your kids and still stay on top of the school work, house work, ranch work and business work you ask? 

Ethan working on his history

 

Well, you don’t. 

You see, there really is no way to do it all. Something has to give.  In my case, several somethings.

Yes, we did the travel.  Yes, we learned a ton.  Yes, we met interesting people and saw our nation’s landmarks.  Yes, we combined our business with fun.  Yes, we are behind in everything else.

Ahhh, there it is. I’ve admitted it.  I am not super mom. 

You see, week 33 in our school year just ended and my 5th grader is somewhere between week 27 and 32 on his lessons depending on the subject, and the kindergartener, well, he hasn’t fared as well – we are still slogging through week 26 with the hopes that we will finish it today and then cram a shortened version of weeks 27 and 28’s lessons into these next few days as we hit the road again.  Am I worried? No, not really.  He can read over 100 words, adds numbers like 63 plus 5, has almost finished his first handwriting book and is soaking up facts about history, science, and geography from his older brother and our travels so I think he will be just fine.

Oh, but my house?  The dining room resembles a holiday shop in the middle of a “Going Out of Business Sale”  more than a place to eat meals.  The decorations are stacked up on the table and the buffet from various holidays all the way back to Christmas.  It’s a jumble of Snowmen, Valentine’s Hearts, and Easter Rabbits all collecting dust and waiting for their turn to make the annual trip to the attic.

Holiday Clutter

My yard is in various stages of chaos; dead, almost dead, terribly in need of pruning, in full bloom, desperately in need of water, and “Wow! Where did all those weeds come from?”.  And I have to wonder every time I go outside, “Do I start with the weeds, the water or the winter dead stuff?” 

Ranch work, well, let’s just say that it’s a really good thing R.W. does most of this or it would be in the same fix as my yard.  But I still have a few mares that need to be bred, a filly that needs handling and spring is quickly getting away from me.  The desire to go ride with the kids and R.W. is certainly there, but do I really have the time?

Business; well there are CDs to ship, bills to pay, invoices to create and send out, bookwork to balance, blogs to write, new projects to work on and papers to file… the list never ends, even without the travel.  Eventually it will all get done, unfortunately not as quickly as I would like.

So how will I ever get caught up?  I probably won’t.  I will work at what I can, I will stay up late and get up early, I will try to put my family first and my house last and somewhere in between I will attempt to get to all of the rest.  We may have to do some of our school lessons over the summer or even try a “year-around” system, especially if we decide to homeschool again next year.  I am probably going to have to look for help with the office work or with my yard, or I may have to just skip some of it altogether.

But, what I HOPE I won’t do is drive myself crazy with guilt about not being super-mom and worrying about what I haven’t finished, because in reality we have done a lot and the weeds will grow and the dust will gather whether I’m here or out on the road with my family.

So I am curious, how do you fight the “super-mom” guilt trip?  Do you have any secrets about how to “get it all done” without losing your mind?

 

A Texas Springtime Ranch-Country Wedding

Posted on: April 19th, 2012 by R.W. Hampton No Comments

 

Can you believe spring is upon us? It’s been a unique year with unseasonably warm weather across the country, even here at 6,500′ elevation it’s starting to look like spring.  Of course the 8 to 10″ of snow we got last week sure didn’t hurt as it was a heavy wet snow, preceded by a nice rain shower and followed up by another a few days later.  Yes, even we have a little green grass growing, the trees have budded out and you can even find the occasional flower blooming.  All this springtime blooming has taken me down memory lane to this time last year. It was a Texas springtime, ranch-country wedding. There was magic in the air.

Springtime in Texas is like that anyway – what with the Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Prickly Pear blooms and all. Then add a ranch country wedding to that already potent mix and mister, you’ve got some strong medicine!

We had gathered in Palo Pinto County, TX for the wedding of a long tall cowboy (one Colter Hampton) to his Brazos River rose (Miss Cortni Clower). There, in a leafy glade surrounded by family and friends, in just a matter of a few moments, a miracle of love was witnessed and the world became a better place.

As I looked around me, a lump as big as Dallas grew in my throat. For not only had the boy found his True Love, but older brother Cooper was home safe from the war and in attendance, younger brother Denver was in from college, and littlest brothers Calvin and Ethan were behaving themselves. Big sister Gina, along with her husband Corby (my son-in-law), and their sons Barrett and Gus were able to make a rare getaway from their ranch to be here, too.

Long lost cousin Barbara, from way up in Maryland, made the long trip to reestablish her Texas Hampton roots.

My brother, Jeff, and his soon-to-be bride, LeAnn, were there holding hands like love-struck teens.

I knew that my long time best friend, Don, and his wife, Cindi (who’s like a sister to me), wanted to be there, but I wouldn’t have bet a plugged nickel that they would really make it, ’cause real life often gets in the way when your real life has to do with agriculture. But, by God, they made it, too!

So did Lisa’s brother, Ted, and his wife and both of their boys. All the way down from Central Oregon on their spring break.

And then there were all the Grand-folks! There were Hamptons, Moores, Lysters, Clowers and Rices, not to mention all the rest of Cortni’s side of the family – which was certainly abundant! The hall was full to over-flowing with cousins, aunts, uncles, neices, nephews, friends and even the occasional person that no one seemed to know.

All these smiling faces. All this history. All this love.

Even now, months later I find myself wondering if it may well be that not this side of heaven will we all be together again like this. No, surely not, but where else besides Texas in the springtime could it happen even once – like this?

After the “I dos” and all the pictures were taken, we all gathered in the reception hall to eat, drink and watch the newest Mr. and Mrs. Hampton cut their cake and drink Dr. Pepper toasts.

 

As the couple took to the dance floor, as the children played in the growing shadows, as the Texas sun made its way west, I stood alone trying to memorize every face and every scene of one of life’s few perfect days.

 

And amidst my memories of new love I find another. There I was, taking it all in, afraid to even blink, lest it all go away, my attention was finally stolen by a woman across the room. This lovely creature, although unaware I was watching, was working at the drink table filling cups with iced tea. I was taken not only by her obvious beauty, but by the look of total contentment she wore as she made an art out of this simple task.

Captivated and dumb-struck, I wondered how this could happen. What were the chances of a middle aged man falling in love at his son’s wedding? This kind of foolishness could get a man in big trouble. But no, not that day, because this angelic vision across the crowded room is the mother of my children, my sweetheart, my partner and my wife.

I smiled as I reached down and felt the gold band on my left hand.

Now why should old love born anew surprise me – or anyone, for that matter? After all, it was a Texas springtime ranch-country wedding, and there was magic in the air! 

Do you have a favorite springtime memory?  Is there really such a thing as “love in the air”?

 

Taking Time Out

Posted on: January 19th, 2012 by Lisa Hampton 8 Comments
January Evening Skies- photo by Lisa

January Evening Skies here in New Mexico

Does life ever get so crazy that you don’t know whether you are coming or going?  Ever get that small voice in the back of your mind saying “Umm, and how exactly do you expect to get all this done?”

It’s been one of those weeks here.

Up early, trying to fit in a little exercise time before starting the day’s chores, catch up on the weather and news & check emails, then it’s time to get breakfast going and roust the boys for schoolwork (all before 7:30 am). Then it’s back to the computer to try to answer a few emails and phone calls while R.W. does a bible study with the boys.

From 8:30 to noon it’s a balancing act of 5th grade and kindergarten lessons while R.W. does ranch chores and practices his music, a short break for lunch and a few minutes outside to lend R.W. a hand with winter projects he is working on here at the ranch, then it’s time to get the boys back to their schooling, fix dinner, do a couple of loads of laundry, straighten up the living room and kitchen from the day’s studies (yes, the books seem to end up everywhere in the winter as we gather by the fire most of the day.)

Most evenings as soon as the dinner dishes are cleared and washed, the nightly ritual of putting kids to bed is upon us.  We haven’t had TV reception in years but on the occasional night we all finish early we like to play games or curl up and watch a movie as a family.  Almost every evening one of us will read a chapter or two of a book of the boy’s choice before it is “lights out” for them somewhere between 8:30 and 9 PM.  That leaves roughly an hour or two for me to tackle whatever else awaits on my desk or in my kitchen before we fall into bed.  And there really isn’t ever enough time to get it all done.

But tonight, amidst our last lessons R.W. came in and announced – “School is OUT!  You all HAVE to come outside right now!”

 

Sunset at Clearview Ranch Jan 19, 2012

Sunset behind the Sangres

Well, he was right, as usual.  No matter what was going on it was one of those moments that time stands still and as we stood there as a family our New Mexico sky turned oranges, pinks, violet, vivid reds, and deep turquiose blues.

Thank you God, for the wonderful reminder of why we live here in this land.

Thank you for giving us moments when time stands still, moments we can share with our children and thank you so much for the beauty that is uniquely your creation.

Thank you God, for making us take time out.

I wish my photos could do justice to the changes in colors, they really don’t, but I wanted to take time out of our crazy week and share the moment with you.

And I want to thank you, for riding this trail with us, no matter how busy we are, we always love to hear from you.

Love you all,

Lisa, R.W. and the boys

 

Shortgrass

Posted on: August 11th, 2010 by R.W. Hampton No Comments

The land of the shortgrass is my home. 

It is often brutal in the winter, with winds whipping off the mountains carrying storms across these high altitude plains. It can be dry as a bone into the summer, with ranchers crying for rain. And in years like this one, it is a beautiful, lush, green pasture that rolls over the land, interrupted only by the hills and ravines that have been created through time and sprinkled with the occasional grove of cottonwood or elm trees near a dirt tank oasis and scattered cactus and yuccas, which bloom in the spring.

Although what is considered the shortgrass country stretches from the Southern Rocky Mountains to Alberta, Canada, our little Clearview Ranch is located at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a chain within the Rockies here in Northeastern New Mexico. It is popular country for raising horses since it gets its name from the short, but potent, native grasses that are suited to this windy high desert region. 

There is a rugged beauty here that is evident not only in the land, but also in its inhabitants. Many an old timer has been heard to say that if you ever wear out a pair of boots here, the country will steal your heart forever. 

My oldest son, Cooper Hampton, and his best buddy, Dawson Enloe, joined the Marines together during high school.  Over the years they have set foot in many countries and worn out their boots, both overseas and around our own great nation, but they have always expressed their desire to someday come back home to the Shortgrass country, their home. 

This song was written for them.

The Start of Something New

Posted on: April 19th, 2010 by R.W. Hampton 8 Comments

Welcome to the start of something new.

As with most things new, it’s a humble start. I say that because I’m writing this not from my ranch office, but rather while I’m sitting on an overturned five-gallon bucket in our corral.

Why? Because one of our mares is going to give birth (or “foal,” as we say) at any time! So I’m here, purely in an advisory capacity this evening, to make sure everything goes as nature planned. It seems fitting, though, that while ol’ Molly is working on something new, so am I. And while I have no idea what kind of colt she’ll raise or what it will become, I’m just as unsure what my little “blog” will grow up to be.

It’s kind of exciting every now and then to head up a new trail just to see where it goes. Well, that’s what I’m doing here and I’d consider it an honor if you’d see fit to come along.

I’m gonna call my “baby” Notes From Clearview Ranch. See, my home, Clearview, sits at an elevation of well over 6000 feet. Looking north and west and south, I stand in the shadows of the mesas and snow capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains. To the east, I look out across an endless rolling prairie that I can best describe as an ocean of grass. So this “big” view gives me a unique perspective. Certainly it’s not the only view, but it is my view.

That’s sort of what I want to do with this blog; give you my perspective or view on the everyday things we all deal with in life. It certainly won’t be the only view, and may not be your view, but it will be uniquely mine.

So there you have it. Notes from Clearview Ranch is born today. As for Molly the mare’s baby? I’m still waiting!