Tuesday, February 28, 2012


            “It should have been easy…it should have been oh, so easy….” The classic tune from the Whites played over and over in my head that night—the wee hours of Monday morning, actually—as Hubby and I wrestled, heaved, and held up Princess’ calf to nurse. Her huge, lanky bull calf must have been ill-positioned and too cramped en utero, as he could not straighten his legs sufficiently to stand and walk by himself. Princess, bawling loudly with worry and frustration, echoed my own thoughts.

            Weary and with throbbing backs, we continued helping the big calf (who I’d named Moose due to his size, limb length, and small eyes) to stand and nurse, gently stretching and rubbing his legs, and praying, but progress was painfully slow. I was nervous because Hubby would be going to work the rest of the week, and I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to manage on my own. A retired rancher who lived nearby graciously agreed to help, but I was worried that Princess would not tolerate a stranger meddling with her baby.

 I slept through the alarm I’d set for the midnight feeding and woke with a start at 1:01 pm. “The alarm didn’t go off—it’s 1:00!” I exclaimed, grabbing my shoes.

            “I already did it,” Hubby said, grinning in the darkness. “The prayers worked—Bullwinkle can stand, walk, and nurse all by himself! Princess was happy—she licked him all over, and he didn’t fall down. He wasn't even shaking!” While I'd slept, Moose got a better name and better legs!

            This morning, Bullwinkle surprised me once again—he hopped—a sure sign of health and high spirits. B.W. is definitely the homeliest calf that Princess has had (his sire was a VERY unwelcome trespasser that belonged to the neighbor), but nothing could be more beautiful to me than seeing that calf not only on his feet nursing, but also hopping!

“He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him….” PSALM 91:15


Friday, February 24, 2012


A casual glance out my back window shows nothing unusual: sunshine, bare-limbed cottonwoods, brown winter grass, snow-capped mountains, and some puffy clouds obscuring Cloud Peak. But, as is so common in spring, nature is not as passive as she first appears. Behind that big cottonwood, Princess’s ears are laid back, her tail is switching, and she’s restless and uncomfortable. I think she may be in the early stages of labor.

I’m more excited than nervous, since Princess has already given unassisted birth to four other calves and knows what she’s doing. I’d love to sneak out there for a closer peek, but she prefers privacy, so I’m watching what I can with binoculars.

Six years ago, Princess was adopted at age two—two days, that is—when Mama Cass lost her calf. One of two heifers born to a registered cow, Princess couldn’t be registered, so the ranch manager sold her to us. Cows don’t take kindly to strange calves, so Hubby had to skin the dead calf, tie the hide onto the new calf, and restrain Mama in a headcatch whenever Princess needed a meal. This laborious process continued for some time, with no apparent bonding, until our new cowmutt pup, Bodie, was dumb enough to enter the corral and bark at the calf. Mama’s motherly instincts took over, and she bellered and chased that pup right out of the corral. After that, Princess was her calf.

Princess didn’t come with a name, of course, just a white tag with the number 46. (Actually, few stockmen name their cows unless they’re registered. But I can’t remember numbers, and besides, cattle have so much personality that they often name themselves if you’re around them for any length of time.) Princess carried herself with dignity and style, as if she knew that her blood was a bit bluer than that of the other calves we had. Her sire and dam, besides being registered, were part of the well-known Beartooth Ranch herd of Black Angus, formerly owned by actor Mel Gibson. Please pardon the blurriness of this photo of Mama and little Princess, but it absolutely captures Her Highness’ demeanor!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God's] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  1 PETER 2:9

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Don't Ask

Unlike most of the state, Worland is spared much wind in the winter months, but today is a blustery exception. Other Wyomingites, particularly those poor souls in Casper and Cheyenne, spend most of fall, winter, and spring chasing hats and mail, hanging on for dear life to car doors and steering wheels, and leaning.

Yes, it’s nigh unto impossible to walk in Wyoming wind lest one leans. Since windspeed varies by the second, lean-walking is both science and athletic endeavor. One has to anticipate impending gusts (or lulls) by listening for the wind decibels in trees or against buildings, then adjust one’s degree of lean at just the precise moment in order to proceed with any amount of dignity and forward progress. There’s an old joke about our climate that’s more truth than humor: “If the wind ever stops blowing in Wyoming, everyone falls down.”

It’s not just the chasing, hanging on, and leaning that wears on the psyche—it’s the howling. Unless one is a coyote, wolf, or werewolf, the constant chorus of unharmonized shrieks and moans is hardly music to the ears.

Speaking of music and wind: remember that old Bob Dylan tune? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind; the answer is blowin’ in the wind. I can’t prove it, but I think folks in Wyoming are just asking way too many questions!

“And He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Hush now! Be still (muzzled)! And the wind ceased…and there was [immediately] a great calm.” MARK 4:39 (Amp)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Grace and Beauty

A quick Gracie update: her lively dashes and dances around the corral, coupled with a shiny coat and flat back, indicate that she’s thriving on her mama’s plentiful Angus butterfat.
Oh, that our cultural ideals of beauty and health were comparable to those of cattle! A skinny cow can signify malnutrition, illness, neglect, bad teeth, or advanced age; she’s neither attractive, fit, nor likely to raise a good calf.
My great aunt Bula and I were discussing the subject of anorexia via snail mail. “The devil has got these young people thinking that skinny is beautiful,” she wrote. “I think fat is beautiful, and I’m getting better looking all the time!” Her letter made me feel much better about indulging in Valentine’s Day chocolates and red velvet cake last week!

“(The Lord) who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy….” PSALM 103:4B (Amp)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mug Shots IV

The Crazy Faces have taken great interest in little Amazing Grace. They line up at the fence and moo for her to come closer, but at this point, Gracie’s more interested in visiting me and Hubby. “They’ll make great mamas,” Hubby predicted last night when he saw the heifers standing transfixed as they watched the new calf bounce around the corral. We’ll find out if he’s right in just over a year; in the meantime, please enjoy the last installment of mug shots. (The heifer at the bottom, tag 128, is still awaiting a name. Suggestions may be sent to tailsandbales@gmail.com .)

Cupcake (Fluffy white frosting—my favorite!)
Flame (See the candle?)

Angel (She has a total of 4 angel wings on her face.)


“ Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Calving Miss Daisy

If you’re a rancher, hang around cattlemen, or buy beef at the grocery store, you know how high cattle prices are right now. It’s simple supply-and-demand economics—not enough cows in the nation’s herd to supply enough calves to meet demand. Good quality cows and heifers, always a rancher’s most essential asset, are now living, breathing, mooing treasure troves.

Before our good cow, Maizie, left us, she blessed us with Daisy Mae, who was unusually skittish and feisty as a calf but gradually tamed down. Maizie hailed from several generations of outstanding mamas who were great milkers, so we were particularly thankful for Daisy Mae. The latter inherited her Danny Boy sire’s “easy fleshing ability” and gained so much weight this year that I feared she was carrying an entire litter of calves.

My fears were unfounded, and little Amazing Grace slid onto this ranch on Monday--sans siblings. (Hubby got pulled over for speeding on his way to the blessed event but talked his way out of a ticket.) Daisy Mae is the ideal cow: calm and cooperative when we assisted with delivery, very attentive to her calf but not threatening us when we come near, great udder. Gracie was hip-hopping and bucking by the time she was two hours old, and she’s as friendly as a puppy.

Princess, who has yet to present us with a heifer, is on deck; we’re hoping that she’ll do as well as Daisy Mae did!

"What's this?"

 "She's beautiful, and she's mine, so be careful!"

“Ang God is able to make all grace abound to you….” 2 CORINTHIANS 9:8

Friday, February 10, 2012

All's Well that Ends Well

Wednesday, a day that will live in infamy, started pleasantly enough. But after chores and supper, the cat had still not come indoors. “Have you seen Smokey?” I asked Hubby.

“I saw him stalking the sparrows,” he replied. Five or six sparrows spend every night with the goats in the barn. Smokey hunts them zealously but has only claimed one casualty in two years.

Perhaps Smokey had been shut up in the barn. I bundled up against the cold and went looking. No cat. An hour later, I searched the place again with a flashlight, calling and calling. No cat. More time passed, but no cat. I was sick with worry, thinking maybe he’d met his Waterloo with a coyote or owl. Hubby went out the next time, taking the big “calving” flashlight. Hubby found the cat right away—on top of the power pole.

For a split second, I was relieved that Smokey was located, until Hubby said the words that turned my blood cold: “If he jumps down on that transformer, he’ll be fried.”

“If he stays up there, an owl will pick him off for sure,” I said. We stood frozen, looking up at the pitifully-mewing cat atop a 35-foot death trap. Then I ran inside and called the electric company.

The lady from the answering service must not like cats. “You want me to send a lineman to rescue your cat?” she sneered. You’d think I’d asked her to send a veterinarian to tend a sick bedbug. Fortunately, the linemen, who left their cozy homes to go to work, pick up the truck, and drive 30 miles to try to save the less-than-smart feline of people they’d never met, were much more gracious than she. “It’ll take us 45 minutes to get there,” one of them said.

As the time crawled by, Hubby and I were so anxious that we could barely speak to one another. After a half hour, I got in the Escape to drive down to open the front gate, which can be tricky to find in the dark. I absentmindedly switched on the radio. “His eye is on the sparrow,” someone—maybe Ethel Waters—sang. I’m not kidding. I was too tense to fully appreciate God’s perfectly timed, wry sense of humor, but I did relax just a bit.

Finally, the angels from High Plains Power Company arrived. After surveying the scene, they decided to play it safe and drive a ways down the canal road to shut off the electricity that comes into the transformer. When the lights went out, Hubby and I sighed in deep relief. After maneuvering the truck around the yard, one of the angels donned a face mask and heavy gloves and went up in the lift. The rest of us chattered nervously below, hoping Smokey wouldn’t panic and jump off or frantically claw his savior, but all went smoothly. “Smokey did good,” the angel announced.

“Smokey’s had some misadventures, but this one takes the cake,” I said later as I crawled into bed. It was late; the alarm would be going off in less than six hours.

“Linda Smith has a cat that went up a power pole—twice,” Hubby announced. I groaned.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mug Shots III

Back by popular demand, here's some more Crazy Faces.


Clarabelle A virtual twin to Annabelle (see Mug Shots).



"He puts a smile on my face. He's my God." PSALM 43:5

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mug Shots II

The lane to our house leads past the haymeadows. If the Heffalumps are anywhere near the road when you drive through, just stop your car and roll down your window. I guarantee that our black-and-white welcoming committee will come over for a visit!  

As in hot fudge sundae. She’ll be one of the first to your car.

As in “zigzag”, for obvious reasons.

The easiest to spot (pun intended) in the crowd.

"For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills." PSALM 50:10

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mug Shots

The Crazy Faces (new heifers) have adjusted well to their new digs, the haymeadows, and are growing plumper by the day, earning themselves a new nickname: the Heffalumps. Hubby’s been around cattle his entire life and has never seen a friendlier, gentler bunch of heifers. They always stop their grazing and come to see us; several allow us to touch them, and Annabelle even wants to be scratched all over! Peder, the Angus steer calf that we’re keeping for next winter’s freezer, is hanging out with the Heffalumps but can’t figure out why they always want to visit us and pose for photo ops. Here’s a few to whet your whistle; I’ll post more soon.

Already voted Most Photogenic and Miss Congeniality, she’s also one of the leaders--in cow terms, that means first to the water tank and first to the feed!

One of the easiest to name!

"The joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10