Thursday, May 31, 2012


“Be sure to take time to stop and smell the roses,” Dad reminded me. He thinks I work too hard and don’t take enough time for myself.

Maybe he’s right. I have 28 rose bushes in my yard, but I truly don’t know which are fragrant and which aren’t. When I water the roses, I pull the weeds around them while thinking about how I’m going to manage to get all my other to-do’s done.

Rose-sniffing doesn’t come naturally to overachievers like me. We tend to judge the value of an activity by the following criteria: Does this activity accomplish anything? What will I have to show for it to prove that it isn’t a waste of time?

Somewhere along the line, I must have bought into the lie that achievement equals self-worth, for why else would I feel guilty for taking a few moments out of my schedule to linger over a rose?

Good question.

“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” –Words of Jesus, JOHN 10:10

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lost and Found

Years ago when I was still a teen, my dad picked me up from my job in town at the vet clinic. We drove west until we reached the exit that led to the place where friends and family were already picnicking. Beneath the interstate overpass, right beside the road, we saw a tiny lamb that didn’t look more than a few days old. “Baaa!” After I checked it, I could tell that the poor thing was dehydrated, so it had been separated from its mama for some time.

We’d passed a large flock of sheep several miles earlier, so, after giving the lamb a drink, Dad and I headed eastward, searching for the road and gate that would lead us towards the sheep. Eventually we found our way into the vast pasture and bumped our way sheepwards. Soon we were greeted by a bunch of barking dogs—no border collies in the group, but some little mutts and a dark grey toy poodle—and a sheepherder.

The latter spoke only Spanish, but thanks to Srs. Wegner and Redler from school, I was able to carry on something of a conversation with him. I’ve long since forgotten his name, but I do remember he was in dire need of a bath and was overjoyed to see the lamb. Indeed, he knew its mama by name (though there were hundreds of ewes in that flock!) and had been searching for the lost lamb since the day before. He’d finally given up, assuming that it had been snatched away by a fox or coyote.

“GrĂ¡cias, grĂ¡cias!” he grinned widely, as he cradled the lamb gently in his big arms.

“De nada,” I replied, so happy for him, the lamb, and its mama. Little did I know that someday I’d feel just like that little lamb--lost, forgotten, vulnerable, afraid, alone—and I’d learn that my Shepherd was right there waiting for me to call His name.

“Like a shepherd, (God) will care for His flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.” ISAIAH 40:11

Friday, May 25, 2012


I fear that our weather forecast of 68° was a bit optimistic. Current conditions at 1:26 pm MST are 45°, sprinkles, 12 mph wind, and an IC (irrigation chill) of 23°. What? You’ve never heard of irrigation chill? IC is derived from this simple mathematical formula:

Temperature – Wind speed – Square inches of wet, muddy clothing = Irrigation chill

The fact that the acronym “IC” sounds like “icy” is pure coincidence.

I have to cut this post short, as it’s time to go change the water. In the event that I succumb to hypothermia, readers are simply asked to contribute any extra wetsuits that they may have on hand to the irrigator of their choice.

“All sunshine and sovereign is God, generous in gifts and glory….”                       –PSALM 84:11

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cow Composure

Research now proves what many stockmen have known for a long time: low-stress cattle handling results in higher weight gains, greater resistance to disease and parasites, and increased fertility and mothering traits. In other words, the happier the cow, the healthier and more productive she is.

“Calm” is the operative word in low-stress cattle handling, which avoids whoops and hollers, cracking whips, cattle rattles and prods, out-of-control dogs and people, undue pressure from  racing ATVs or charging horses--as seen on many Western movies and some ranches. All of the above lead to increased cortisone levels and injuries to cattle as well as their handlers.

Hubby and I find that low-stress cattle handling is much easier to implement with black baldies than with straight Black Angus. Our F1 Angus-Hereford heifers (aka the Heffies) are naturally mellower, less excitable, and more cooperative than their higher-strung relatives.

Yesterday, we worked the Heffies through our simple tub-and-headcatch setup in the barn, pulling CIDRs and giving Lutalyse shots in preparation for AI (see May 18’s It’s Arranged post). The whole procedure was accomplished with nary a shout, cuss word, banging chute, or even cloud of dust. Hubby, whose personality tends to be more Angus than Hereford, said, “That was actually enjoyable.”

Annabel, who'd rather be scratched than moved through a gate, is sometimes too calm!
“Hot tempers start fights; a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.”  PROVERBS 15:18

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hayseed Gardening Report

We planted the garden this weekend. It’s been a warmer-than-normal spring, so maybe we should have planted weeks ago like several neighbors did. On the other hand, we’ve had some frosts here and there, so perhaps we planted too soon. And I don’t have a Farmer’s Almanac, so I don’t know if the moon was right for sowing. There’s probably an ap for that, but my phone doesn’t do aps. It’s a military phone that will survive irrigation water and impacts of all kind, so I like it. I’m such a hayseed.

The perennials and self-sowing annuals are making good progress in the flower beds, but I’m planting some zinnias here and there anyway. Zinnias must be out-of-fashion because I had trouble finding any in the bedding plant aisles, but I say, zinnia’s long-lasting, vivid colors are hard to top. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard zinnias mentioned in poetry or song—maybe because nothing much rhymes with “zinnia”--nor have I seen them on china or fabric, so they must be considered terribly un-posh. Hayseed flowers, I guess!

The roses are just now beginning to bloom, so I’ve put in my deer repellers, which look like little flying saucers on sticks but are filled with blood meal and stuff that deer find distasteful. They’re not cheap, but cages and nets are so ugly. I almost tried some cheaper deer repellent that’s sprinkled around the plants, until I read the main ingredient: coyote urine. I’m not opposed to coyote urine, but our male cowdog, Bodie, would be compelled to cover the stuff with his own, much of which would probably kill the roses. Bodie’s a hayseed just like me!

“In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.” --JAMES 1:21

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's Arranged

In the wild, female animals have the luxury of choosing their mates, but cows (and other livestock) depend on their human caretakers to select the father of their calves. Happily, scientific advancements now make it relatively easy to choose a bull whose genomic make-up complements that of the cow in question. As a result of EPDs and genetic testing, cattle cupids can increase the odds that the chromosomal toss of the dice will result in a better calf than either parent.

And, fortunately for those of us who don’t want to pay the steep prices to buy high quality bulls, artificial insemination (“A.I.”) is less expensive. Although it requires more cattle handling initially, it’s really nice not to have to deal with and house bulls by themselves for the rest of the year. The biggest advantage for heifers is that with AI, the due dates are fairly predictable. (Heifers often need midwife-type assistance, so it’s nice to be able to plan ahead to have all hands on deck!)

As we speak, the Heffies, as I call our black baldy heifers, are lounging in the corrals with progesterone implants which, when pulled and followed up with an injection of Lutalyse, synchronizes their estrus cycle so they can be bred within a few days of each other. The first week of March 2013 will sure be exciting! I’ve included a link to the webpage that shows the handsome dude who’ll be the sire of next year’s calf crop.

“Body and soul, I am marvelously made….You (God) know me inside and out….You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”
                   --PSALM 139:14-15

Thursday, May 17, 2012


“I hope it doesn’t rain.” The bearded man who said that was just making conversation with a young lady at the sandwich shop yesterday.  That guy doesn’t know how lucky he is that I didn’t express my distaste for his comment.

“Are you kidding me?!” I would have shouted, if only my folks hadn't repeatedly told me to mind my manners as a child. “Don’t you know we’re in a drought? Don’t you realize how hard we farmers, ranchers, and tree planters have to work when it doesn’t rain for months? Do you have any idea how much money, energy, time, and fossil fuels are spent on irrigation? Weren’t you paying attention in science class when they taught about the water and nitrogen cycles, ecosystems, and soil pH? Have you no compassion for all the un-irrigated trees, shrubs, and grasses which are struggling to survive? Haven’t you heard what happens to livestock and hay prices in a drought, let alone the welfare of the livestock and the livelihood of their owners? Don’t you care that I’m so busy irrigating that some mornings I actually find myself debating whether or not I have time to brush my teeth?”

For bait, I hung two loads of laundry to dry on the back fence today. So far, I’ve only managed to attract a dozen raindrops and some dusty wind!

“Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.”
                                         --PROVERBS 21:23

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


This past Mother’s Day will probably go on record as one of the very best—for me, anyway. Very late on Friday evening, son Zach returned home from a 10-month foreign exchange stint in Jamnagar, India. He brought armloads of beautiful (or tasty) gifts from abroad, and bought me my annual Mother’s Day rosebush, but the greatest gift by far was having him safely home! (I extend my sincerest thanks to everyone in Jamnagar who befriended or took care of Zach while he was there--especially to whoever taught him to fold his clothes neatly and put them away!)

Our sweet Petunia had a wonderful Mother’s Day too: she had her first heifer, twelve days early. Little Penelope was up nursing and bucking in no time. Penelope has her sister Gracie’s sociable personality. The entire time that I was trying to photograph Penelope on her first day, Gracie was chewing on my pony tail and bumping me with her nose, as if to say, “Look at me. I’m still cute too!”

“God will lavish you with good things: children…offspring from your animals, and crops from your land….” DEUTERONOMY 28:11

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Urgent! Makeover Needed ASAP

RIDDLE: What’s white, tan, gray, and red, and has ants crawling over it?

ANSWER: An irrigator.

White is the color of her forehead, which is always covered by a hat, and her torso and legs, which are stuck in rubber boots. (Irrigation boots are neither comfortable nor stylish, and they’re inevitably too hot or too cold, depending on conditions.)

Tan is the color of her lower face, neck, and arms, as well as the straw hat she wears when the sun’s beating down.

Gray is the color of the mud splashed and smeared all over her—clothes, hair, face, everything—as well as the mud caked on the shovel handle, sidewalk, doormats, and piles of clothes and coats waiting to be washed in the laundry room.

Red is the color of her hands, which, although protected by gloves, are protected by wet gloves.

The ants—sometimes accompanied or replaced by spiders—are the refugees whose homes she’s just flooded. They were frantically treading water and latched onto higher ground when it sloshed past them.

We irrigating women need some help. Surely there’s some designers and stylists out there, maybe people who grew up on a farm or ranch, who care about our plight and dare to come to our fashion rescue. We don’t necessarily want elegance or panache, but if a delivery truck or neighbor car pulls into our lane, we don’t want to feel obliged to run and hide!

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
                                         --ISAIAH 35:6

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bird Brains

The term “bird brain” is a derogatory term describing someone who isn’t necessarily the sharpest tack on the board. Because the avian brain is so miniscule, it has been assumed that birds are more or less dim-witted. After all, they can’t read, write, swipe a debit card, or make microwave popcorn.

But birds can do many things that humans cannot: fly with ease, speed, and incredible agility without need for tickets, fees, security checks, and air traffic controllers; withstand extreme weather conditions without benefit of heaters, air conditioners, or the Weather Channel; ensure that they and their families are well-fed, though they have no fishing poles, rifles, tractors, supermarkets, restaurants, or can openers; migrate and mate on schedule without a calendar or Farmer’s Almanac; orient themselves without maps, compasses, or GPS devices; engineer and build remarkably well-designed and durable nests, with no architect, general contractor, or Home Depot.

Such avian achievement is generally attributed to instinct rather than brainpower; however, where would all those instincts be stored if not in their brains?

An expectant mama robin crafted her nest in our barn this week. It’s a marvelous nest, truly it is, but for its location: right smack on top of the drive track for the overhead door. The door (fortunately) hadn’t been used, and the robin’s choice of real estate seemed logical enough to her—her babies would be sheltered from storms and safe from the cat. Apparently, she and her namesake, yours truly, have something in common: neither of us have much in the way of mechanical instincts!

“Jesus said, ‘…Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy….’”     --MARK 12:29

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Family Trees

We finished planting the golden willows yesterday. I’m almost as tired and sore as I was muddy (see photo below), but I’m excited that someday our windbreaks will grow to be beautiful havens for all kinds of birds and animals. Of course, there’s many an hour of watering and weeding between now and then! Today, I’m pounding in steel fence posts to anchor the tree cages which will prevent the willows from becoming mule deer banquets. (The other trees were planted in the main windbreak, which is already protected by a solar-charged deer fence.)

I have my folks to thank (or blame?) for my tree-tending tendencies. Mom and Dad are adept at transforming plain and desolate places into lush, verdant landscapes. To be honest, when I was young and helping them with their arborist projects, I didn’t wholeheartedly share their enthusiasm. Those spindly little seedlings sure seemed to be more trouble than they were worth. Little did I know that years of patient and persistent tree husbandry would reap such amazing rewards!

“Aren’t you glad that we have no trees left here at the house, waiting to be planted?” Hubby asked this morning at breakfast.

“Yep,” I replied wearily, thinking that life would be a lot easier if I took tree-planting off my agenda from henceforth.

After irrigating this morning, I stopped by the mailbox. Guess what was in it? Ten little blue spruce saplings from the Arbor Day Foundation!

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”    --GALATIANS 6:9