Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I’ve been spring cleaning—not our windows or closets, though they’re in dire need—but the flower beds. Most of last year’s beauty is this year’s trash and must be cleared out, trimmed, or, in the case of my darling roses, pruned. Dandelions, grass, various mustards, and white campion have to be dug out without harming the desirables that have made an early appearance: sage, tickseed, poppies, violas, hollyhocks, coneflowers, and blue flax.

As I wrench all those obnoxiously deep-rooted weeds from the earth, I try not to look ahead of me at what seems like acres left to be worked! If I do, I can slip into anxiety (how will I ever finish all this, on top of all the other chores?) and flower bed remorse (what was I thinking when I put in all these?). Instead, I try to envision the bright blooms that will soon be flourishing here, there, and everywhere. After all, there is no such thing as too many flowers!

Apparently I’m not in gardening shape yet; my hands and back are stiff and sore—but not sore enough to keep me from drooling over the pictures in the gardening catalog that just came in the mail!

The Sovereign LORD will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise Him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
with plants springing up everywhere.
ISAIAH 61:11

Monday, March 26, 2012

No Nobodies

Whenever I happen past the goats, horses, cows, or heifers, I usually greet them by name. “Hi, Cupcake,” I said to the first heifer I saw this morning. “Hi, Blossom and Clarabelle,” I said to the next.

A while later, I realized something: I don’t remember seeing the unnamed heifer in a long time! Yes, she’s there with the rest, but because she has no name, it’s almost as if she’s invisible. How very sad—no one, animal or person, should ever feel irrelevant, anonymous, or overlooked!

I had a long list of to-do’s for today—dishes, laundry, floors, harrowing the middle field, running to town to get groceries—but then and there, I resolved to name that heifer.

It’s not that we haven’t tried. It’s just that, because of her face is so fuzzy, the shape of the black marking on her face changes every day. Sometimes it looks like the silhouette of a kitty, other days, it looks like the Grinch or a king. Likewise, the white outline above that changes too. Depending on the hair day, it can look like an iris on a stem or Elmer’s glue running off her face.

Today, the white marking on her face looks like one of those sparklers that we kids played with on the Fourth of July. To make up for not naming her sooner, I’m giving her a special name, one that says she’s out-of-the-ordinary and stands out from the crowd: Sparkle.

“ I’ll say to Nobody, ‘You’re my dear Somebody,
And he’ll say, ‘You’re my God!’”
                   HOSEA 2:23


Friday, March 23, 2012

The Rancher

Think of the word ranch and you think of cattle, horses, sheep, stock dogs, grass, hay, a barn and corrals, and fences that stretch for miles. Think of the word rancher and you think of all the above, plus a pickup, stock trailer, tractor, coveralls, boots, hat, leather gloves, and jeans—none of them new and all in need of a good cleaning. But here’s something I bet you’ve never thought about: God is a rancher.

I’m serious. Just look at the facts (italics mine):

·         “God made the wild animals according to their kind, the livestock according to their kind, and all the creatures that move along the ground….” GENESIS 1:25

·         “He supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle….” PSALM 147:8-9

·         “For every animal of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” PSALM 50:10 (His spread makes the King Ranch or the Pitchfork look like Little Tykes play sets.)

The whole idea of raising and caring for livestock, which in turn provide meat, fiber, and milk, was God’s idea in the first place! He knows more about farming, ranch management, animal husbandry, and environmental stewardship than all of the greatest minds in our industry put together. I don’t know if God wears Wranglers or Stetsons, but I do know that it’s wise to be on good terms with Him, particularly if you’re in the profession of ranching!

(Photo taken on the Downing Ranch, Fort Morgan, Colorado.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Green's Finest Hour

The first day of spring brought us an inch or two of snow on the heels of yesterday’s snow and rain. Lots of wind and scant winter precipitation had made the soil’s surface a bit thirsty, so as soon as the sun came out, the moisture was absorbed into the ground. The cool-season grasses and forbs, which had begun to make an appearance, are now popping up everywhere I look as chloroplasts awaken from their long hibernation. The emerald spears and sprouts—even the tiny dandelions and mustard weeds—are a welcome sight for the color-hungry. Deciduous leaves are probably six weeks away, but our red cedars are turning greener by the day. If we look closely, we can find a few diminutive, clover-like leaves that signify that the alfalfa has begun to break dormancy.

In a month or so, green will be so prevalent that it serves as a neutral, a backdrop for the more dramatic rainbow hues of the flowers. But for now, green—the color of new, the shade of hope--has the limelight!

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
ISAIAH 43:18-19

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thank Heaven!

            At first we thought it was dust blowing from some farmer’s field, as once again, the afternoon wind started blustering from the southeast. But soon it became obvious that we were looking at smoke. “Who would be burning their fields in this weather?” we asked. The smoke quickly grew darker and thicker, burning our eyes and nostrils, as the wind (which, we later learned, was gusting at 50 mph) propelled the inferno northwards, more or less straight at us! Obviously, the fire was spreading like, well, wildfire.

We could hear sirens across the river, but the fire was in the trees and brush along the river; it would be too difficult and dangerous for fire crews to approach.  One small helicopter was scooping water from the river and dumping it on hotspots, but it couldn’t make a dent in the big blaze. “They must be trying to protect those houses over on the hill,” we said. When we saw flames shooting in the air from huge cottonwoods that were burning like kindling, we said, “With this wind, it could jump the river.”

            Hubby and I prayed for God to change the wind direction, so the fire would burn back into itself, and the firemen could get it under control. That’s exactly what happened! Within five minutes, the wind turned, the flames could no longer be seen, and the smoke plume shrunk visibly. I’m certain we weren’t the only ones praying, but I’m equally sure that if no one had, that fire would’ve caused much more destruction than it did.

            An hour or so passed. The winds were stirring up smaller fires here and there, but the fire crews seemed to have a handle on them. We drove down to meet a friend whose farm was across the river from the fire, and we could see that sparks had indeed crossed the river and started various fires in the dry grass along the ditchbanks. Oddly enough, when we tried to drive back onto our county road, a sheriff’s officer waved us away.

            “I can’t let you in there,” he said.

            “We live here,” we replied, a bit impatiently.

            “I’m under orders not to let anyone in. This area has been under a mandatory evacuation order ever since the fire jumped the river.”

             That was the first we’d heard of an evacuation order—and it was two hours after the danger had passed!

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” PSALM 118:8

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Plaid Past

      I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m more familiar with my registered Quarter Horse’s pedigree than I am my own, but thanks to my great-aunt Bula, I recently learned more about the fraternal side of the family. It seems that she and my grandma, Nelda Boyd Lane, were descendants of the Boyd clan of Scotland. I’d always believed that Grandma was Irish, due in no small part to the fact that my grandpa, Carlyle “Pete” Lane, loved to tease Grandma with jokes about her Irish heritage, even though Lane is a Scotch-Irish surname. (His jokes irritated her but always amused his audience, even if we’d already heard them a dozen times.)
      At any rate, Bula told me that the Boyds have their own plaid (or tartan, as it’s termed in Scotland) registered in their name. This grabbed my attention because I love to decorate with plaid fabrics, especially wools, and my favorite vest is also a plaid.
      A few years ago, I concluded that plaids were the best way to tie in all the colors that I like in my home—earthy tones of red, blue, green, and gold—in rustic country style. Moreover, when I look at my favorite plaid wool blanket, I see countless interwoven crosses, which often remind me of a favorite quote: The Cross—where the worst of man meets the best of God. (My apologies to whoever spoke this; I’ve forgotten where I heard it.) But perhaps the real reason that I’m drawn to plaid is that I inherited a tartan gene from my Boyd forefathers!
       Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I was able to quickly find a photo of the Boyd tartan.
“All the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe…get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of His death, His blood that poured down from the cross.”  COLOSSIANS 1:20

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Working Out

Lest my readers get the impression from this blog that spring on our place is all cavorting calves and singing birds, I feel obliged to whine about my aching back, knees, and hands. An early spring also means an early start to spring fencing projects. Although I walk and work out with light weights all year round, I definitely haven’t pushed myself hard enough!

Nothing tests one’s fitness quite like digging 18 inch-deep holes in partially frozen ground, hacking tree roots out of the holes, or manhandling a heavy tamping bar, especially if one if of the female gender. Whilst ingloriously stabbing, shoveling, and sweating this morning, I wondered how many others of my age and kind were, at that very moment, “working out” as in “working outdoors”. Or were they paying for trainers, gyms, and exercise classes to stay in shape?

If you’re one of the latter, allow me to suggest an alternative exercise regimen: ranching. Not only will you breathe fresh air as you elevate your heart rate and perform weight-bearing calisthenics, you’ll be rewarded with clean barns, sturdy fences, beautiful trees and fields, and happy livestock. “Sounds wonderful,” you say, “but I don’t have a ranch.” Ah, but I do, and I’d be more than happy to let you work out on mine—for free!

   Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.MATTHEW 11:28

Monday, March 12, 2012

An Early Spring

Romance is in the air. An early-morning jaunt around our place offers plenty of evidence of an early spring: the Canada geese, sandhill cranes, mallards, and horned larks are pairing up, the redwing blackbirds are singing from the marshes, and the robins and sparrows are fervently serenading their sweethearts. We’re still waiting on the meadowlarks, who either don’t have a Weather Channel ap on their smartphones, or have checked their calendars and decided to play it safe and stay closer to the Equator.

Between high winds, cold, snow, and mud, March in Wyoming can be inhospitable to birds and mammals alike! I generally have little regard for March, although this temperate month has been a delightful exception. Neighbors who are usually talking about moving to a beach about this time are now discussing garden plans—and our last hard frost is at least 2 months away!

I heard this quote a while ago and thought I’d pass it along, as it has proven quite true, fitting, and comforting in just about every situation that tempts me to either fret or feel pessimistic. (If only I was naturally as trusting and optimistic as my feathered friends!)

“The only thing that never changes is God, and He can change anything.”                   -– Joyce Meyer

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"National What Day?"

Although today is National Ag Day, few citizens celebrate it or even know about it. Although Americans enjoy the safest, most affordable and abundant food in the world, Hallmark has printed no “Happy Ag Day” greeting cards. Even though one of every 12 jobs in the U.S. is supported by agriculture, Google has created no special logo to commemorate the day. Although agricultural productivity and exports are higher than ever before, despite the sluggish economy, Ag Day probably won’t make many newscasts or political speeches. Alas, even though most Americans wear cotton or wool as well as utilize lumber and biofuels, Walmart isn’t selling Ag Day M&M’s.
Were he here today, Benjamin Franklin would surely have made mention of National Ag Day. The witty statesman said of agriculture:

"There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry."

George Washington was of like mind:

"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

So, today, take a few moments to celebrate the folks who are responsible for the fruit, veggies, grains, meats, and dairy products that we eat; the wood in our homes, furniture, and paper (imagine life without Charmin and Kleenex!); the fiber in our clothes and bedding; and the biofuels that make our country less dependent on foreign oil. And, if you happen to pass by a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep or chickens—and no one’s looking—go ahead and tip your hat!

For a preview of a great ag documentary, go to and click on the "MONTANA STOCKMAN: Tougher than Hammered Owl Manure" link.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Amazing but True

            The firstborn calf of the season is kind of like the first grandbaby in a family: upon arrival, he or she is welcomed, coddled, nurtured, celebrated, adored—even a bit spoiled. Little Gracie received no balloons or teddy bears, but she instinctively knows that she’s the apple of her mama’s eye and the pride and joy of her two-legged relatives. The other cows and the yearling heifers—even the horses—admire her as well. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Gracie has no lack of self-esteem. She carries herself with an assurance that says, I’m cute, I’m loved, and I'm special. What’s not to love?

            Gracie’s sense of self-worth pleases me because it’s completely innocent and free of either arrogance or false humility.

The Bible tells us over and over that we’re chosen, cherished, greatly loved, highly favored, completely forgiven, and destined to do great things for God. Many of us claim to believe in Jesus and that His Word is truth, yet we struggle to accept what He says about us because we know that we’re unworthy of such grace. Ah, but grace isn’t grace if it’s deserved or earned! Scholars define grace as “the unmerited favor and blessing of God”.   

Do you want to please God? Then dare to believe Him when He says that you’re the apple of His eye, that He delights in you, that He rejoices over you, that your life has purpose. Let grace put a smile on your face and a spring in your step!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” EPHESIANS 2:10 (NLT)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Good Report

“That calf has a lot of heart,” Hubby remarked the other night, referring to BW’s “try” and determination. BW’s first 24 hours were tough ones for all of us, as his tight tendons wouldn’t allow him to straighten his legs sufficiently to stand, walk, or nurse on his own, but he kept on trying. After we’d stand him up, he’d shake, wobble, and attempt a step on his own until he fell down. (For more details, read “Hallelujah” in the archives.)

We’re proud of Princess too. She’s used to doing the calf-thing on her own, and despite her good disposition, is rather over-protective of her progeny for the first week or so. But she must have understood that BW needed our help. At first, we had to put her in the headcatch of the maternity pen while we strained to hold up her huge, flopping calf to nurse, but by the third feeding, she just stood still while we helped him. Hubby, thinking we might need to use a bottle, even tried milking her—and she didn’t mind—which would be unremarkable if she was a Holstein, but she’s a Black Angus.

BW’s legs get better daily. This morning he put on a spirited, if stiff-legged, display of running and bucking around the rodeo arena—aka the corral. We can’t wait until he’s ready to turn out in the pasture with Gracie. Much fun will be had by the calves as well as their audience!

“God’s blessing on…the young of your livestock, the calves of your herds….” DEUTERONOMY 28:4