Saturday, April 28, 2012

The First Arbor Day

“Then God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. He put the Man he had just made in it. God made all kinds of trees grow from the ground, trees beautiful to look at and good to eat.”    -–GENESIS 2:8

Hubby and I are having a Genesis 2:8 weekend, planting currents, junipers, and golden willows—not in the Garden of Eden, but in windbreaks on the edge of the hayfields. Our trees aren’t so much for men as they are for the benefit of animals. The cows will take shelter from the winter winds, the birds will have more nesting spots and berries, and the rabbits will have more places to hide from the dog. But, now that I think of it, we irrigators, hayers, and walkers will have some privacy when we need to—ahem—answer the call of nature.

(God, if You’re reading this blog, I have a few questions for You: When You planted the trees in the Garden of Eden, did You use a shovel and trowel? Why did you do it Yourself instead of recruiting the angels for the job? Did You carry buckets of water or just say, “Let there be water in the hole”? When You finished the job, were You soaked with mud and chilled from the wind? Did Your back and arms ache? When Adam and Eve rested in the shade of those trees, I sure hope that they appreciated all the work and TLC that went into them!)


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why Roses?

Some people collect stamps, baseball cards, or antiques. I collect rose bushes. Some people splurge on manicures, custom golf clubs, or the latest electronic must-haves. I splurge on rose bushes. Some people indulge in gourmet coffee, imported-from-Germany chocolate (worth every penny), or five-star restaurants. I indulge in rose bushes. Some people save up for cruises, remodels, or season tickets on the 50-yard line. I save up for rose bushes. Some people invest in farm futures, mutual funds, or gold. I invest in rose bushes.

Why roses? Rose bushes, by nature, require a goodly amount of nurture; it’s not like I don’t have plenty of other work to do around here. Also, we live far enough from the beaten path that few people ever see them. (And most who do aren’t rose aficionados, so they barely notice all my thorny pride-and-joys, let alone admire them.) Furthermore, my rose bushes afford me no entertainment, convenience, or dividends.

Besides, rose gardens are for the affluent or the experts (called “rosarians”). Bouquets of roses pay tribute to honored guests, cherished valentines, and joyous brides. Sashes of roses are draped over the shoulders of winning race horses or triumphant beauty queens. Symbols of beauty, love, honor, and victory, roses star in more paintings, photographs, poetry, prose, or vintage china patterns than any other flower.

Which is all very well, but a rose garden sitting in the midst of a middling little ranch in the middle of the Wyoming desert—only yards away from greasewood, sagebrush, and a cow pasture full of cow pies? Well, it just doesn’t fit.

Or does it? Actually, it’s the perfect picture of what Jesus Christ has done for me and anyone else who’s made Him their Lord. Isaiah, a Biblical prophet, flawlessly portrays the Savior’s transforming work in and through those who receive His love:

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on Me because God anointed Me. He sent Me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners. God sent Me to announce the year of his grace—a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies—and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit."

I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara. For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, so the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations.   --ISAIAH 61:1-3, 10-11

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing…   --ISAIAH 35:1-2

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Allow Me to Brag

I’m proud of my cow. Princess has never been grand champion at a fair or high-selling heifer at a registered Angus sale, and her comically over-sized ears will forever keep her off the cover of Drover’s or the Angus Journal, but she’s the apple of my eye.

If you follow this blog, you may remember that Princess overcome her angusial maternal protectiveness so that Hubby and I could help her enormous, crippled calf to nurse. BW’s legs are straight and sound, but he’s even huger now. At six weeks of age, he weighs in close to 280 pounds! Obviously, Princess gives plenty of milk—she doesn’t even mind little Gracie sneaking a few sips now and then!

This afternoon, two little girls from town, Anaya and Caterina, were visiting us with their parents and baby sister. (Their dad, who works with Hubby, had graciously volunteered to help us with our irrigation pipe.) The girls were excited to meet all the animals. They got a kick out of feeding saltines to the goats and petting Annabelle (see Mug Shots in the list of February posts), but the highlight of their farm safari was Princess’ big, slimy, scratchy tongue taking cake (cow cake, not people cake) from their outstretched hands. What a blessing that cow is!

I have only one complaint to register about Princess: she has yet to give us a heifer!

BW, at one month of age.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Home Sweet Home

 Tomorrow, April 19, is Grandma’s birthday. On April 19, 2011, Nelda (Boyd) Lane left this world to celebrate her 94th birthday, along with her Lord Jesus and my grandpa, Carlyle “Pete” Lane, along with other family and friends who made it to heaven before she did.
My theology on heaven is pretty shaky, so I have no idea if they dished up cake and ice cream at her welcome home/birthday gala last year. Actually, if pastry was served, I’d bet that it was pie. Grandma probably baked and gave away hundreds, if not thousands, of pies in her lifetime—even after losing most of her eyesight. She gave her scrumptious homemade pies to the singles and “old people” in her neighborhood, she told me. Truth be told, she had more years under her belt than they!
(Several years ago, I was talking to Grandma on the phone. She was quite put out because some “young people” from a youth group had been making the rounds in her tiny burg, presenting plates of Christmas cookies to the elderly. “Elderly!” Grandma exclaimed crossly. “I am not elderly!” I held back my laughter. Grandma was 90 at the time.)
At any rate, I can’t help but imagine Grandma’s second heavenly birthday party. She’ll make the cakes and pies herself, of course, in addition to confections baked by other Boyd pastry-geniuses. Nettie “Mimi” Powell, my other grandmother and a pie-baking legend in her own right, will probably contribute a strawberry pie with real whipped cream as well as her marvelous homemade vanilla ice cream. My other grandfather, Graham "Papa" Powell, will likely help Mimi with the ice cream. (Pete won't  be of much use in the kitchen, except to entertain everyone with his funny stories.)
But regardless of the heavenly menu or lack thereof, I’m sure of one thing: considering the company Grandma’s keeping up there, she’ll have one very sweet birthday!

“Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”
                            --PSALM 34:8

Monday, April 16, 2012

Be Forewarned

Oh, happy day! Today I picked the first of the asparagus that grows wild on our place. Most of the asparagus are waiting for warmer temperatures to send up their succulent shoots, but a few hardy plants braved the frost to bless us with a taste of spring.

Asparagus is said to be something of a superfood, as each spear is jam-packed with fiber and antioxidants. Over the years and across the globe, asparagus has been prescribed as a diuretic, a lung and skin tonic, a treatment for ulcers and digestive disorders, and an aphrodisiac. Internet legend has even touted asparagus’ strong cancer-fighting properties.

“Ah,” you may be saying to yourself, “maybe I should go pick some asparagus for myself!” No, wait! Hold on!

There’s one thing about asparagus that the nutritionists and holistic medicine folks won’t tell you: it can be extremely addictive. Scientists have yet to discover what’s in asparagus, chemically-speaking, that causes OCAHS (Obsessive Compulsive Asparagus Hunting Syndrome), but the condition is very real.

Don’t believe me? Just head out to the country, and you’ll spy us asparagus junkies surreptitiously prowling the roadsides, canals, and ditchbanks. I say “surreptitiously” for two reasons: one, we don’t want other OCAHS to know where our caches are; two, we’re very likely to be trespassing on property not our own. Just as with many other addictions, OCAHS drives normally upstanding citizens into a life of crime. Even if we don’t end up in jail, we may very well cause traffic accidents; if we’re driving and spy an asparagus patch, our feet will compulsively slam on the brakes!

“Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself—
glorious life!” PROVERBS 21:21

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Rainbow's End

It’s been a warm and windy spring with little precipitation. The good news: our place is downriver and down-canal from the gigantic Boysen Reservoir, which is fed by runoff from the Wind River Range. We’re blessed with plenty of irrigation water and an elaborate system of headgates, ditches, and gaited pipe to dispense that water. The bad news: all that heavy, awkward pipe has to be transported and assembled! Not only is it an arduous task that I dread (particularly since I hurt my knee doing it a while back), but we’ve been busy with work, farming, and fencing jobs, and haven’t even started on the pipe.

For a week, I watched neighbors and neighbors’ hired hands out putting their pipe together, and I started to    worry that our alfalfa would get stressed by warm, dry winds before we’d be ready to irrigate. But instead of whining to myself like I’ve done in the past (How will we ever get the pipe done in time?), I just kept repeating Proverbs 10:22 aloud, believing that if God said it, it’s true.

On Thursday morning, we looked out the front window and saw a rainbow. It hadn’t rained, mind you. Lo and behold, the rainbow’s end was resting right next to our largest stack of irrigation pipe! (The coffee we were drinking hadn’t yet penetrated our sleep-fogged brains, or we’d have thought to snap a picture.) Shortly thereafter, the rain came; that night, we received even more of the wonderful stuff. The sun broke through the clouds yesterday, and the alfalfa was positively glowing!

“The blessing of the Lord--it makes [truly] rich, and He adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it].”  PROVERBS 10:22 (AMP)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Elliot, one of the cutest and sweetest Aussies I’ve ever met, loved and was loved by Brian and my sister, Jenny. Despite the best of care, the years caught up with Elliot, and last week he passed from this world.  In Elliot’s honor, I’m posting this portrait of him which Jenny painted a few years ago, and I’m including this quote, which explains the perennial prosperity of Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Kleenex!

“Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”
                                                                                  ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I’ve been doing some farming—only a few acres here and there, harrowing or ripping—but it’s enough to give me a huge appreciation for full-time farmers who drive tractors and work hundreds or thousands of acres! It’s not as easy as it looks; the “cockpit” is full of all kinds of gauges, gears, and levers, the understanding of which is crucial to safe and smooth operation of all attached implements. (I’m not there yet, believe me! Not enough flight hours, so to speak.)

For me, one of the hardest things about farming is keeping the tractor on a straight course which is exactly parallel to your other (hopefully) straight paths. Now, I didn’t pay much attention in 8th grade geometry, but I do remember that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But unlike highways, fields don’t have yellow and white painted lines that keep drivers from wandering.  In fact, fields often have contours, furrows, corrugations, or seeding lines that lure the operator off track.

Newer tractors are outfitted with GPS systems that steer the John Deere on a path that would make Euclid envious. Our Deere is neither new nor globally positioned, so I rely on LPS (Landmark Positioning System) instead. I pick out a distant tree, clump of weeds, or fence post which looks like the best focal point, and if I discipline myself to keep my eyes fixed on it, I’ll keep the ship sailing relatively straight. But if I let my eyes drift beside or behind me, looking at the ground I’ve already covered, then the vessel will soon be drifting off course!

“…I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me…. I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.”

                                                         PHILIPPIANS 3:12-13

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Perhaps those of us who reside where winters are harsh appreciate spring a bit more than folks lucky enough to live in milder climes. After so many months of grayish-brown tree trunks and grayish-tan grasses, interrupted only by snow and grayish-colored rocks, the first glimpse of a spring wildflower never fails to elicit surprise and delight. For what is a spring wildflower if not a resurrection miracle? Fortunately, Hubby had his camera with him when he chanced upon this lovely creeping phlox growing in a mulch of dead sagebrush branches the other day.

“One man [Jesus] died for everyone….so that everyone could be included in His…resurrection life, a life far better than people ever lived on their own.”                          2 COR 5:14-15

Thursday, April 5, 2012

One Handsome Dude

This fine-looking pronghorn buck regularly visits Hubby and his colleagues at “the office” (see previous post). A curious and playful fellow, he amuses his human friends by racing their vehicles—showing off, no doubt, since he and his kind can run up to 53 mph!

Although pronghorns are frequently called antelopes, scientists say they aren’t antelope at all and are actually the only surviving members of the Antilocapridae family. Wyoming’s pronghorn population is estimated at roughly half a million, which means that we have about the same amount of pronghorns as people. Besides being the second-fastest land mammal in the world, pronghorns are known for their unique horns that are made of hair, their hollow hair, and their strong, musky smell. Pronghorn meat has a bad reputation, due in part to their diet of sagebrush and other pungent foods, but I know for a fact that pronghorns that feed on alfalfa and sugar beets taste quite delectable!

But if you’re a pronghorn hunter, don’t bother asking me or Hubby where this buck can be found!

O Lord, how many and varied are Your works! In wisdom have You made them all; the earth is full of Your riches and Your creatures.” PSALM 104:24

Monday, April 2, 2012


If you despise crowds but long for skies that stretch to eternity, if you’re not terribly attached to shopping malls but crave solitude, if you can take or leave beaches but yearn for prairies, deserts, or mountains—and if you’re not terribly attached to trees--then you’ll probably love Wyoming. Speaking of which, our official state tree is the cottonwood, the prettiest of which just happens to reside just outside our back door!
As stately as the cottonwood may be, however, it is hardly typical of the Wyoming landscape. Cottonwoods require more water than our state’s average annual rainfall of 12.68 inches, so they only thrive in riparian areas, and then only in elevations below 6500 feet. One could argue that the pines, spruces, and quaking aspen, found in alpine ecosystems, surpass the cottonwoods in beauty and therefore are more worthy of state treedom.

I wasn’t around in 1947 when the cottonwood was adopted by Wyoming, but if I was, I’d have nominated the Artemisia tridentata ssp. Wyomingensis, aka the Wyoming big sagebrush. Sagebrush may not be as handsome as cottonwoods, as stately as lodgepole pines, or as luminous as aspens in the fall, but they’re definitely the hardiest and most abundant woody perennial in our scant soils and droughty climate. The sagebrush has only recently begun to gain respect in these parts, as people are realizing its significance to much of our rangelands. According to the USDA:

“Big sagebrush is perhaps the most important shrub on western rangelands. Evergreen leaves and abundant seed production provide an excellent winter food source to numerous species of large mammals including mule deer, black-tailed deer, white-tailed deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and jack rabbits. Nearly 100 bird species depend on sagebrush ecosystems.... Additionally, there are several animal species having an obligate relationship with big sagebrush including sage grouse, sharp tailed grouse, pygmy rabbits, sage thrashers, sage sparrows and Brewer’s sparrow. Sagebrush also provide habitat and food for hosts of invertebrates which in turn support birds, reptiles and small mammals....There are several plant species having close relationships with sagebrush as well.”

Much of Hubby’s work, I’m proud to say, involves the reclamation of bentonite-mined lands, from disturbed, bare ground and rocks to a restored, diverse ecosystem containing bunch grasses such as bluebunch, wild rye, and Indian ricegrass; annual forbs such as sunflower and beeplant; and native shrubs such as sagebrush, rabbitbrush, saltbush, and greasewood. The process requires a huge commitment of machinery, skilled labor, expensive seed, and prayers for rain! Success is contingent upon many factors outside of one’s control, may take years to manifest, and will be seen by very few human eyes, but is strikingly beautiful nonetheless.

Hubby's "office".

“Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower— Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color.”                             ISAIAH 35:1