Monday, July 30, 2012


I’m afraid to go out to the garden. There’s too much produce out there—more than we can ever eat or find homes for! The extra-hot summer has been hard on the new trees we planted, but it’s been a boon to the garden. We’re eating big, luscious tomatoes at least a month ahead of schedule, and we’ve got green beans, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, and zucchini coming out of our ears.

Hubby says he’s figured out a way to feed the starving and malnourished in this world: squash. We figure that a few zucchini and buttercup seeds will, with some water and a little cultivation, yield enough pounds of squash to feed an entire village. It’s too bad that our Wyoming garden is so far from Africa--from what I hear, there’s a whole lot of folks there who could benefit from our garden’s overflow!

In the meantime, we can always toss the surplus to Petunia, the only one of our cows who appreciates a bit of diversity in her diet.
“My cup overflows with blessings.” --PSALM 23:5b

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Prowler

Coyotes have a lot more enemies than friends. I’ve never taken a poll of coyote haters, but I’d bet that the vast majority of them are, ironically, animal lovers who detest coyotes because they prey upon so many helpless lambs, chickens, goats, calves, dogs, cats, and many wild animals.

I don’t hate coyotes personally. I understand that everyone has to make a living, even if it is at the expense of cute cottontails and flashy pheasants. But when the bold, wily killers trespass into our barnyard, endangering the lives of our livestock and pets, they’re signing their own death warrant.

Yesterday, around 3 a.m., a coyote loudly announced her presence in our barnyard with a series of yips and yaps (probably in conversation with another coyote). Coyotes usually run away from our dog Bodie, but this one fought him and then chased him back to us. Clearly frenzied, she dashed back and forth on a slope beside the house, even though we were standing on our front step with a flashlight and a .243. She disappeared behind some sagebrush but made the fatal mistake of returning for another look. Hubby’s not a big hunter but has had too many sheep slaughtered by stray dogs and coyotes not to be a good shot.

I’m thinking of printing and laminating some copies of this photo and caption, then nailing them at coyote-eye-level to fence posts and trees around our place. Maybe that will deter coyotes and prevent further bloodshed!

WARNING: Prowlers NOT Welcome on Premises

“Wait patiently for God, don’t leave the path. He’ll give you your place in the sun while you watch the wicked lose it.” –PSALM 37:34

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.”                                                     Helen Keller

Monday, July 23, 2012

Up There

This photo was taken atop the Grand Teton on Saturday. Zach is sitting; his friends and fellow firefighters, Jeff and Justin, are standing behind him.

While they were up there, another climbing party of 10 made it to the top of an adjoining summit. One of the climbers changed into a tuxedo he’d carried in his pack, another changed into her wedding gown, and another, presumably a preacher, proceeded to marry them.

As Zach was telling about the wedding, I started to say, “That’s cool,” but then I interrupted myself with, “Don’t even think about doing that yourself someday!” He’s my only kid and the apple of my eye, but that’s one wedding I’d have to miss.

“I ask Him that…you’ll be able to take in…the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breath! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!” –EPHESIANS 3: 18

Friday, July 20, 2012

In Good Hands

Have you noticed how many insurance commercials there are on television? Each company tries to outdo the other’s commercials with humor and cleverness while simultaneously trying to communicate that it’s trustworthy and has its clients’ best interests at heart. Although I appreciate the talent and wit of many of those writers, I shudder to think how much money companies spend on advertising or how much profit they bring in from customers who are trying to purchase some peace of mind. But all the insurance policies in the world can’t give an iota of the assurance that comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ, who is our Shepherd, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Wonderful Counselor, Healer, Provider, Redeemer, Savior. If you really want to be in good hands, I can think of none better!

“Life carefree before God; He is most careful with you.” 
                    --1 PETER 5:7

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Nearly every morning, I take the same route on my early walk or jog—the canal road that goes by the Heffie’s pasture. Even if I’m in a hurry, I always stop to count them to make sure they’re all there, probably because I’ve never forgotten the sight of a neighbor’s heifer which had fallen into the canal a few years ago. (She did get out safely.)

I’ve heard it said that cattle don’t respond to human verbal interaction, but I confess that I always talk to the Heffies anyway. Most cowfolks would call me crazy, but I often greet the heifers by name or speak blessings over them. “Hi, Blossom and Bubbles! Bless you, Annabelle and Winky! Be fruitful and multiply, Flame and Cupcake! Be safe and healthy, Dottie and Angel!” It might be my imagination, but they seem to welcome my greetings of goodwill.

Speaking of greetings…I recently read that in the Gospels, Jesus often greeted people with, “Peace to you!” In Hebrew, “peace” is shalom, which means peace, safety, prosperity, wellness, restoration, goodness, and wholeness. One scholarly definition of shalom is “nothing missing, nothing broken”. I like that!

Dear readers, I don’t know most of your names, but please allow me to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly, if electronically, send you this greeting: “Shalom to you!”

Monday, July 16, 2012

Black Sheep, Take Heart!

“So-and-so is the black sheep of the family (or other group).” English speakers have all heard and spoken those words--maybe even to describe themselves. A “black sheep” is someone who doesn’t conform to the rules, values, and expected behaviors of the flock of presumably white sheep. Anyone (like yours truly) who’s ever been a card-carrying member of the Black Sheep Society can attest to the fact that their “blackness” has afforded them many a scornful stare or shaming word. More often, it’s brought loneliness because “white sheep” avoid the company of “black sheep” out of fear, judgment, pride, or all of the above.

There must be a lot of proverbial black sheep wandering this planet of ours because the “black sheep” idiom is also common in 17 other languages! The expression even appears in the Bible:

“…He {Jesus Christ} embraced the company of the lowest. He took on His shoulders the sin of the many, He took up the cause of the black sheep.” –ISAIAH 53:12 (MSG)

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Note from the Pasture

You can tell a good shepherd—or a good cattleman—just by looking at the condition of his animals. If they’re quiet, contented, relaxed, and in good shape, then they are well-fed and well-managed; conversely, if they’re thin, sick, restless, or bawling or bleating around the clock, then it’s fairly safe to say that whoever owns them is either ignorant, lazy, or uncaring. I’d even go so far as to say: the better the rancher, the happier his livestock—with the exception of weaning time, of course.

According to Psalm 23 and many other scriptures, Jesus is a good Shepherd. He’s the leader, protector, provider, defender, comforter, and healer of His sheep. He came, lived, loved, and died for us to have abundant life, peace, and joy.

But the Shepherd never forces any sheep into His flock; they have the right to choose Him as their shepherd or not. And He never turns any sheep away from His flock, no matter what shape they’re in.  In fact, most of us that come to Him are dirty, ragged, weary from trying to save ourselves, injured from falls we’ve taken and traps we’ve fallen into, and desperately hungry for His undeserved grace and unconditional love. And so we may not be the most beautiful, purebred, and flawless of sheep, but because we’ve been forgiven much, we love much! (Luke 7:47)

“The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.” --PSALM 23:1-3

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Easy Does It

If you’re the kind of person who likes agendas and schedules, don’t take up agriculture. Oh, it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead, but on any given day, what you get done is what you get done.

Weather is sometimes predictable but never controllable. Plant thriftiness can be managed to some extent but with widely varying rates of success. Desired animal behaviors and health can be encouraged but not depended upon. Buildings, infrastructure, vehicles, and machinery can be maintained but deteriorate or suddenly fail. Economic factors and markets vacillate. Human ideas are fallible, emotions are fickle, and strength is variable.

On top of that, unforeseen stuff happens…neighbors need help; hay buyers stop by; heifers need rebred; the power goes out so the automatic waterer no longer works, so the horses have to be moved; and prairie fires roar over the hills, headed straight for the ranch, calling for heroic efforts to save cattle, hay, and house (happened to friends and family just a few weeks ago)!

The nature of agriculture calls for farmers and ranchers to be diligent and hard-working but also easy-going and patient. This makes for quite an interesting combination of personality traits, which are not always easily balanced!

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” –2 TIMOTHY 1:7

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Breach of Security

Scarcely a day goes by that we don’t see deer on our place. Most are mule deer that feed in the hayfields and sleep in the greasewood. Since there’s plenty of alfalfa, we don’t mind sharing with the beauties. Our dog Bodie (a border collie-heeler-catahoula cross) wants to chase the deer, of course, but we only want him to chase the deer that come close to the flower beds and garden. Oddly enough, the white-tailed deer that venture near the house somehow mesmerize Bodie, so he doesn’t appear to even notice them, let alone chase them!

Bodie considers himself something of a coonhound, but he hasn’t chased a single one of those pesky varmints out of the garden because they raid at night while he’s sleeping on his couch in the house. Every year, when I see the coon damage to our sweet corn (despite a 9-wire electric fence), I threaten to move Bodie’s couch out to the garden for the rest of the summer.

There are breeds of dogs that guard sheep and others that watch over families, homes, or businesses. Surely there must be some kind of dog that’s bred to instinctively protect roses and vegetables!

Bodie at work at one of his favorite ranch jobs: guarding the truck!

"Every promise of God proves true; he protects everyone who runs to him for help.” --PROVERBS 30:5

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lifted Up

We found this young lodgepole pine tree, which must have been damaged by a storm, growing parallel to the ground on a trail at Willow Park. Upon closer inspection, we saw that it’s tip and top branches are just starting to grow vertically towards the sky—just like the L-matoes (see one of last week’s posts by the same name).

I guess you can’t keep a good tree down!

“Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts….”       --2 CORINTHIANS 7:6

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lost in Paradise

Today we escaped the heat and ranch work and headed up the mountain for a hike. The Big Horns, as our mountain range is called, have had more moisture than most other ranges in the West, so we were blessed to see jillions of wildflowers!

Willow Park is primarily a series of connecting cross-country ski trails that make for great hiking in the summer, but even though there are markers and maps, it’s very easy to think one is on a given trail that one isn’t. Once one realizes that one isn’t anywhere near where one thought one was, it’s a bit unnerving—even more so when one finds oneself walking past the same elk skull that one passed an hour earlier!

“We’re going in circles. We’re lost,” said I, on more than one occasion. Hubby, being of the gender that never admits that they’re lost, never did admit we were lost. I don’t understand that line of thinking; nevertheless, I was very grateful when we finally returned to the trailhead and our cooler of food. Even more than that, I’m extremely thankful that my knee is so much better, so I can hike again!

“There will be a highway called the Holy Road….for God's people exclusively—impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it. Only the redeemed will walk on it…unfading halos of joy encircling their heads…as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.” --ISAIAH 35:8

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Petunia, our last cow to calve, came in heat and was A.I.ed (see It’s Arranged, the May 18, 2012 post) today. Petunia is such a sweet, gentle cow that it’s always a pleasure to handle her. Even though she’s a very attentive mama cow, Petunia seems to trust us with her calf and never acts threatening.

Even though we’ve been working to increase our little herd, we won’t keep a honky cow or heifer. If their personality (yes, cattle definitely have a personality) makes them dangerous to people and/or dogs, we send them packing. That can be sad, but it’s so pleasant to live and work with animals we like and, to some extent, trust. Sure, it’s foolish to ever totally trust a very large prey animal—horse or cow--which responds instinctually to fearful stimuli. Although animals with docile temperaments tend to be safer to be around, none is totally trustworthy.

But when I think about it, people—even the best of them—aren’t absolutely safe and trustworthy either. Do you know anyone that always tells the truth, always keeps his/her word, always treats others with respect and love, and always does the right thing for the right reason? Do you know anyone who’s never moody, critical, mean, stingy, untruthful, unreliable, selfish, or unkind? Me either—with one very notable exception:

“God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”                              --1 CORINTHIANS 1:9

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Wind is good for plants because it stimulates plant hormones which promote root and stem/trunk growth. Wind also stirs up carbon dioxide in the air, which results in increased photosynthesis. But, like most everything else, too much of a good thing is too much!

Wyoming rarely lacks for wind, but this summer has proved gustier than most. These rapidly propelled air particles have been good for wind energy production but hard on wildfire fighting efforts and just about every plant that’s already subject to drought and doesn’t need to lose any more moisture. Even well-watered trees, lawns, and gardens have suffered broken limbs, browning, and flattened stalks, respectively.

I’d hardened off our tomato sets before I planted them—they’d been exposed to some wind—but a few days after I moved them to their new digs, we had a strong gale that flattened a few of the plants. They’ve since compensated by bending skywards, their stems forming a capital L. Other than their crooked profiles, the L-matoes are as vigorous as their counterparts and are blossoming and setting on.

Are you feeling knocked down, blown over, and completely flattened? Take a tip from the L-matoes: rise up and blossom anyway!

“The Lord sustains all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down.” –PSALM 145:14

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Spending the day trying to stay cool? If you’ve run out of iced tea and have cabin fever from staying indoors out of the hot summer sun, take some advice from Sparkle (below) who spent the hottest part of today wading on the bank of the Big Horn Canal: find some ankle-deep water, take off your shoes, and slosh!

“May the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you….” --1 THESSALONIANS 3:11

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Zach, along with all of the wildland firefighters, always carries with him the Incident Response Pocket Guide, a publication of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.  Following the Table of Contents, three pages are dedicated not to safety or wildfires but to three topics: duty, respect, and integrity. In this day and age when it’s not politically correct to address topics like values, I was impressed that the NWCG realizes that attention to values is prerequisite to achievement, morale, teamwork--even survival.

Of all the suggestions listed under the title of Integrity, the following statement struck me as well worth repeating:

“Choose the difficult right over the easy wrong.”

Few would argue the wisdom of that! Fortunately, our Lord understands just how hard it is for us to choose right over wrong sometimes, so He’s given us some help….

“Cry for help and you'll find it's grace and more grace. The moment He hears, He'll answer….Your teacher (the Holy Spirit) will be right there…urging you on whenever you wander left or right: ‘This is the right road. Walk down this road.’”                             --ISAIAH 30:19-20