Why "A View from the Middle"? Because my home sits on the middle of a hill overlooking a horse ranch. Because I've always considered myself "mid-height" for a woman at 5'2". And because I'm middle-aged looking back on half my life and forward to the rest of it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Becoming a Rancher

A lot of people already consider me a rancher.  But other ranchers would have said I still have a ways to go.  Well, I think I've taken large strides in to reach rancher status in the past month.  Here's how...

First, I've encouraged my son to show a lamb at fair next year with his Creston 4H group.  That was a big step for both of us because we both know that basically means raising an animal that will be eaten at the end of the project.  Neither of us would have done that in the past, but we're ready for it now.

Secondly, because we're going a different direction with our sheep herd, we're getting rid of a lot of our existing sheep and bringing in some higher-grade ewe's.  I've already found a good home for six of my wethers and my ram--not an easy feat considering most people think that wethers are useless money eaters. And I'm still trying to find good homes for at least six to eight more of my sheep--mostly ewe's that are "heavy" which means they like people.  My goal is to cut my herd back to about six of my existing sheep before bringing in the new ewe's in October or so.

In changing the way my herd is configured, I've picked the brains of some of the top sheep breeders in the area, and have had the pleasure of meeting several nice people, including a very helpful woman in Templeton who is the 4H leader for the Santa Lucia group.  She's been instrumental in teaching me what  to look for when choosing my new sheep, and helping me purchase three new ewe's that will be bred to some nice rams before coming to live on my ranch.

That leads me to the third, and probably most shocking of my new rancher-like thinking--I'm actually going to allow my husband to choose and butcher one of the four market lambs we have on the ranch.  I've never been able to raise and eat one of my own animals before, but I'm finally to the point I can do that.  We've been raising two pigs that will get butchered this month; two cattle that will be butchered by the end of the year; and now, one lamb that will be butchered this month as well.

So, in raising and eating my own animals, I think I've finally reached rancher status.  What do you think?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More Proof I'm a Country Girl

Need any more proof I'm a Country Girl?  I just went to my barn to feed the animals and discovered (another) snake.  This wasn't the little 1 foot baby I discovered a few weeks ago.  This must have been the mama, 'cause she was at least 4 feet long.  And she's a Gofer Snake.

Did I scream?  Did I run?  Did I try to kill it?  NO!  I helped her find her way to a better hiding spot so she would continue to catch the mice I've seen scurrying around my barn, that my cats seem to be missing.  And I've got plenty of squirrels and mice for her to catch as well.  She's not bothering my sheep, pigs, or chickens, so why scare her away?

No, she's welcome in my barn.  Do you need any more proof I'm a Country Girl?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Five No-No's That Will Get You Kicked Off Facebook

With the steady increase of Facebook users, there has also been an increase in those violating the Terms for holding a Facebook account.  Here are the top five reasons for getting kicked off of Facebook.

1)  Obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit photos or those inciting violence or depicting graphic violence.

A man in San Francisco posted a nude profile photo of himself.  Though it was from behind, he was partially turned towards the camera.  Facebook found this offensive and disabled his account.  He was later allowed to open a new Facebook account with the promise of a more tasteful profile photo, but, in the mean time, had lost all his existing contacts and had to start from scratch.

2)    Use of a fake name, falsifying information or creating more than one personal profile.

Businesses are the biggest violators of this rule, and most break it either because they feel that having a profile page for a business is more advantageous or because they simply don’t know how to create a Fan or Group page.  They create a profile page with a name like “Ceramic Flooring,” build a following with hundreds of customers as friends, then loose everything they’ve built when Facebook discovers the page and shuts it down.

3)   Spamming or offering contests, giveaways, or sweepstake promotions.

There have been several instances where a person or business has offered something in exchange for more fans or friends, only to be shut down quickly and without warning by Facebook.  Facebook takes this violation very seriously since they greatly discourage spamming or selling.

4)    Bullying, intimidating, harassing or cyber-stalking,

A woman in California was not only removed from Facebook, but had charges filed against her for harassment for sending multiple friend requests to the current girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend.  In the friends requests she included messages warning the girlfriend that if she didn’t accept her friend request, she’d find out where the girl lived and pay her a visit.

5)    Unlawful multi-level marketing, pyramid scheming, or solicitation of login information.

Unfortunately these types of solicitations are everywhere from email to postings on social media platforms such as Facebook.  And though we’ve gotten wise to such requests for information, people are scammed by new promotions and schemes daily. 

Though these rules are in place for a good reason, there are times when innocent users of Facebook get caught posting something that sounds like it is violating the rules.  Often times, depending upon the violation, Facebook will warn you that a rule has been broken by sending you a message or temporarily disabling your page.  By being aware of the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, you better your chances of never having your Facebook privileges revoked. 

To find a complete list of rules, click on the “Terms” link at the bottom of your Facebook screen. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Juggling Act

January 27, 2010

No, I don't know how to juggle--at least not in the true sense of the word.  But lately I've been doing a lot of juggling of my various businesses.

I toss the first ball (okay, business) in the air as the sun comes up.  It's usually the Wine Country Charters ball that starts the juggling as I return phone calls, check emails, assign drivers, schedule tours, etc.

Next comes the Virtual Assistant ball (business).  I check on contracts, market businesses, connect with fans, write proposals, and so on.

Then the third ball goes in the air--Tobin James.  I race off to the office to sign up new wine club members, take wine orders, plan events, and the list goes on.

And let's not forget the "family" ball, the "ranch" ball, and the "friends" ball...

I'm getting good at juggling.  Maybe I should run away and join circus!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Goin' to Town

It's funny.  Since I've moved to Central California and out into the country, I find driving anywhere more of a decision process than before.

When I lived in Southern California I never thought twice about driving 30+ miles to work, or jumping in my car to go to a store 15 miles away.

Now that I live on the outskirts of Paso Robles I plan my day around "going to town."  Here's the kicker--it's only ten miles away.  Ten miles.  That's it.  So why is it such a big deal?

Yesterday I had to go into town twice!  That was one time too many!  And I ended up missing a meeting because that would have meant going back into town again. 

Granted, the road into town is a small, one-lane, windy road for about half the drive.  But it still only takes 15 minutes.  It used to take 15 minutes to drive to the grocery store when I lived in Southern California, and the store was only four blocks away!

People who come to visit my house the first time always say I live "way out in the boondocks."  Really?

So goin' to town is now a planned event.  All errands that need to be done are carefully mapped out and lists are made.  I wouldn't want to forget anything while I'm in town, because if it doesn't get done then, it's gonna have to wait until next time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Favorite Wine

January 19, 2010

Because of my profession--a transportation/tour company owner in wine country--I often get asked, "What's your favorite wine?"  What's my favorite wine?  That's like asking, "Who's your favorite kid?"

As part of my job I have to check out new tasting rooms and taste the wine.  I have to know what the wineries are serving so I know how to fit them in to my customers' requests. It's a difficult job, but I'm willing to sacrifice myself to do this for the betterment of my company and for my customers.  Are you buying any of this?  Neither am I.  But it's a good excuse.  And it really does help me to make recommendations when needed.

So what kind of wine do I like?  Just about everything.  It just depends.  It depends on my mood.  It depends on the weather.  It depends on what I'm eating--or not eating.  And it depends on what's being poured at the moment.

I go through phases.  Sometimes I like big, bold reds--Petite Sirah (yes, it's spelled Sirah when it's Petite, not Syrah like when it's not), Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel.  Sometimes I like Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier or a dry Riesling.  And often times I like everything in between. 

I don't often like Rose or Pinot Noir, but I found a few of those I like as well.

I very often don't like White Zinfandel or other blush wines, but in a pinch...

And I like dessert wines like Late Harvest Zinfandel or Port--with chocolate, of course.

When it comes to pairing wine with food, I know just what to do.  Pour myself a glass of wine, then ask myself, "Now, what food would go good with this wine?"

So what's my favorite wine?  What day is it?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Country Girl

I'm a country girl.  Yes, most of you knew that about me already.  But people who don't know me can tell at glance that I'm a country girl.

A dead give away is my truck (okay, it's really an SUV--but it is a Rodeo!).  It's always dusty or muddy--I live down a mile-long dirt road!  I try to keep it clean.  Honest!  I realize first impressions mean a lot, and since I do have two businesses, I try to maintain a good first impression.  But the first impression usually says "Country Girl."

If the dust or mud on my truck isn't enough, opening any of the doors to my Rodeo will say "Country Girl" because hay will fall out.  And the fact that I know how to drive in the mud or that I can drive a big motor home while hauling a horse trailer might be another hint.

Usually my speech doesn't give me away.  I don't have a drawl (unless I want to).  And I don't say "y'all"--much.  But one look at the way I'm dressed and you'll say "Country Girl."  Blue jeans, cowboy boots and a fringed leather jacket are my usual attire.

So, yes.  I'm a country girl.  And proud of it!  Now ya'll wanna drop in for some venison stew?