Thursday, August 30, 2012


Electricity baffles me. Take our electric fences, for example. They can’t do their job of keeping livestock in the pasture and coons out of the garden unless they’re “grounded”, with a conductive wire (coming from the solar charger) that’s attached to a steel or copper stake which is driven into the ground. However, they don’t work if they’re “grounded out”, meaning that tall, damp plants act as ground wires. I’m confused.

Birds sit on the same electric fence that causes horses and cattle to jump if they touch it. Hubby says that’s because the birds aren’t grounded and the animals are.

I have a vague notion, perhaps incorrect, that breakers and fuses are “blown” by a sudden overload of current. On Monday—a very hot day—I realized that our air conditioner wasn’t running. I checked the thermostat and found it lifeless—not even a pulse.

A kind soul from the heating and cooling company came the next morning. He discovered a blown fuse in the furnace, which seems to act as a sort of middleman between the thermostat and the outdoor air conditioning unit. Soon the repairman found the problem or, rather, the culprit. A mouse had set up housekeeping in the doohickey that houses some wiring. It had gnawed off the rubber coating on a wire, which must have touched another wire. The ensuing discharge of electrons was enough to blow our fuse but not enough to kill the mouse, which was alive and well in its very own air-conditioned apartment. Maybe the mouse wasn’t grounded.

As I said, the concept of electrical power is difficult for me to grasp. So was the shock I got when I grasped the electrical fence yesterday (which I’d incorrectly assumed to be logically shut off, since no livestock currently inhabit that pasture, and the gait is open anyway) in order to crawl through it to irrigate. Apparently, the human heart is quite sensitive to electrical energy, and heart rhythms can be interrupted by the same! Next time I have to crawl through the fence, I must remember to either check the charger or else make sure my feet aren’t touching the ground.

"True wisdom and real power belong to God; from Him we learn how to live, and also what to live for.” --JOB 12:13




Tuesday, August 28, 2012


In the past few weeks, I’ve driven several Wyoming highways and byways. With the exception of some fields that could be irrigated, the occasional tree or forest, and a few mountain meadows, the color green is notably absent from the sun-baked landscape. I feel sorry for the tourists who have come so far to see our pristine Rocky Mountain scenery, only to have their view (and photos) spoiled by this summer’s gingery-gray haze of wildfire smoke.

Some ranchers have weaned their calves early, as there’s so little grass for the cows. Others have brought their cattle home from barren summer pastures and turned them into hay meadows which are normally saved for winter grazing. Due to a shortage of hay in many drought-ridden areas, the price of that precious commodity has soared, forcing some ranchers to reduce or disperse their herds, or else purchase expensive hay that will eat up their profits.

Indeed, over half of our nation’s farmers and ranchers are affected by this year’s heat and drought, as are many of those whose jobs are dependent on agriculture. Food prices are expected to spike.

The dearth of rainfall, however, is neither as widespread nor as devastating as a drought of the soul. One doesn’t have to look far—perhaps only the mirror--to find people with parched hearts and dried-up dreams trying to quench their soul thirst with liquor, drugs, sex, food, fortune, recognition, power, success, or any number of activities and acquisitions. But, as anyone in the been-there, done-that club can attest (including yours truly), this stuff is like the “showers” we’ve had this summer: a few sprinkles of raindrops, barely enough to settle the dust.

In a drought? Thirsting for acceptance, value, significance, purpose? Yearning for hope, joy, love, peace? Tell Jesus so. Then get out your umbrella because rain is surely coming!

“Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst - not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life. I give freely to the thirsty. "Words of Jesus, JOHN 4:14, REVELATION 21:6





Tuesday, August 21, 2012


As middle age rapidly approaches, I’m sometimes tempted to think that the best part of my life is behind me. Now and then, I spend too much time looking in the rear view mirror, so to speak, at past mistakes and regrets. Occasionally, I chide myself, “At this age, I should have it all together by now. I should have all my ducks in a row, but I don’t even know where they all are!”

But I take heart when I read promises like Proverbs 4:18 (below), and I smile and say, “Amen!” And I toss the mailings from AARP in the garbage can. Until there’s an organization called the AABGP, American Association of Bright and Glowing Persons, I think I’ll pass.

The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine.”—PROVERBS 4:18

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Six Kinds of Hikers You Meet on the Trail

One of my very favorite pasttimes is hiking. Hiking is particularly enjoyable when the scenery includes the Grand Tetons! Many, many others share my sentiments; I've taken the liberty of categorizing them....

Newbies are first-timers. Newbie women may be wearing flip-flops or flats, make-up, even sundresses. The men are recognizable by a certain softness of skin and muscles normally not present in hiking types. The ranks of newbies thins rapidly the further you get from the trailhead.

Some newbies fall in love with hiking, study some books, and invest in hiking boots and fashions, which, incidentally, are remarkably pricey. These novices look the part but give themselves away as amateurs when they point at horse manure and say, “Look! A moose was here!”

A few novices evolve into forest-ranger-want-to-bes. These gregarious folks love to give trail advice and nature lessons to anyone who’ll listen. They almost always wear safari hats and some shade of khaki or green.

Other novices progress into hobby hikers. These types are passionate about hiking but still enjoy it. They smile a lot and greet other hikers cheerily. This is in contrast to the semi-pro hikers, who are too serious about their chosen sport to be friendly; in fact, many semi-pros barely tolerate lower-caste hikers taking up space on the trail. Semi-pros are very fit, knowledgeable, and experienced, however. If hiking was a profession, they could and would do so for a living.

Mountain men/women are easily distinguished by their sinewy legs, deeper-than-skin-deep tans, and trail-worn clothing and equipment. Mountain men can be further categorized into backpackers, trail runners, and climbers. Wiry and strong, they bound up the rocks like so many mountain goats, traveling in a super-human gear that makes other hikers feel as if they’re walking on a treadmill. Although they’re too speedy to be chatty, they’re generally quite polite and considerate of others.   

Above: Hidden Falls, Jenny Lake Trail. Below: peaks partially obscured by smoke from forest fires.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Eau de Goat-ette

Half of our barn isn’t barn at all but a shop with a concrete floor, shelves, tables, welding apparatus, and more tools than you can shake a stick at. When the shop isn’t being used for equipment maintenance or repair, it doubles as a garage for Blackie, my Ford Escape, protecting it from blazing sun and storms but not, it seems, from everything.
You may recall that Blueberry and Meels, my goats, bunk in the barn at night so they’ll be safe from coyotes. If you’re not a goatherd, you may not be aware that goat droppings don’t stink, but their urine does, so even if goat droppings are cleaned and straw is used for bedding, a goat barn will always smell like, well, a goat barn. I only mention this obscure fact because it’s relevant to the case.
This summer has been much windier than usual. And, due to the summer’s extreme heat, the barn/shop doors are frequently left open, as are Blackie’s windows. Consequently, I’ve begun to notice that Blackie’s interior smells more or less like a goat barn.
Which begs the question: Even though I shower and put on clean clothes before I go to town, have any of its citizens caught a whiff of goat essence when I pass by?

“Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation - an aroma redolent with life.” –2 CORINTHIANS 2:15

Monday, August 13, 2012


Hubby and I are experiencing Olympic withdrawals. What I’ll miss the most are the profiles of athletes who have overcome great adversity, who have the gumption it takes to persevere through trials to achieve greatness.

Such inspiring stories are all around us, though a TV crew may not cover them. Take, for example, the tiny cottonwood below. It’s been inadvertently weed-eated, mowed, and trampled by cows. After each calamity, I thought it was done for; in fact, I couldn’t even find it in its little ditch on the edge of a hayfield. Weeks or months later, though, it would rise up out of oblivion and start the whole business of growing--again.

When fall comes, I’ll transplant the little tree to a safer location. Such moves can be hard on saplings, but I have no doubt that this one will not only survive but thrive. (I pray the same for you, whatever the obstacles that must be overcome!)

“Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows; laughter will spill through the doors. Things will get better and better….They'll thrive, they'll flourish. The days of contempt will be over.”    –JEREMIAH 30:19

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Seasons Fly

Everywhere I go, I hear folks complaining about the long, hot summer. Ironically, these are probably the same people who like to quip: “Wyoming has two seasons: winter and the Fourth of July.” I guess it’s just human nature to be dissatisfied with the weather.

This picture is for all of those in the northern hemisphere who’ve been grumbling about the relentless heat—just a reminder that, in a few short months, we may be complaining about the incessant cold!

“People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.” ~Anton Chekhov

Monday, August 6, 2012

More of Her Kind

The other day, I came across a short article about a relatively new breed of mini-cattle, the Panda, many of which descend from a panda bear look-alike named Precious. We have our own Panda, though she’s hardly a miniature. At present, she weighs about a thousand pounds as a yearling. (This photo of her was taken last spring. I have no recent photos because my camera sustained life-threatening injuries when it bounced down some steps.)


I’m not thinking of starting a new line of full-size Panda cattle; however, I’m seriously considering developing a new breed of Annabelles.

I adore our yearling black baldy, Annabelle. If there was a beauty pageant for cows, I’d enter her. I’m quite sure that she’d relish every bit of primping and attention. Annabelle so naturally exudes confidence, class, and congeniality that she’d be sure to win the sash and roses.

Annabelle cut her pastern yesterday. Those of you who have ever worked with cattle would appreciate this: Annabelle stood motionless while we cleaned out the cut with a hose. She lets me come up to her to spray medicine on the leg, even when out in the pasture. No, she wasn’t a bucket calf (orphan); she’s was raised by the same people that the other heifers were.

While scratching Annabelle’s back, I told her that, in her long and productive lifetime, she is only to produce heifers, who in turn are only to produce heifers. In the meantime, I’d better get to looking for a handsome bull with the same gentle disposition as Annabelle. It might take a while!


“God’s wisdom…is characterized by getting along with others....gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings….” JAMES 3:17

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lumps and Flumps

In the midst of a busy day of ranch errands in Billings yesterday, I squeezed in some time to try on some jeans at Big R and Tractor Supply. I didn’t buy any.

It’s not that they didn’t fit. Thanks to irrigating and running, I’ve managed to lose a size. But the whole full-length, 3-way mirror thing so disillusioned me that I couldn’t part with any money for jeans. From what I saw, I need to save up for more drastic measures: wrinkle creams, firming potions, liposuction, plastic surgery--the works!

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, I must ask: From whence came all those lines, lumps, and flumps anyway? Exactly when did I start to look less like me and more like my grandmas?

If retailers really want to sell more clothing, they need to rethink dressing rooms—perhaps candlelight, magic mirrors that slim and lengthen, and You Are So Beautiful playing softly in the background.

For the record: I love my grandmas but have no plans to ever trade in my jeans for polyester pants with elastic waists!

“…To give them beauty for ashes….” ISAIAH 61:3

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How Do They Do It?

Our satellite provider gave us a trial weekend of a vintage movie package for free. Hubby watched several old westerns, so I caught glimpses of quite a few Stetsoned heroes. But it was the heroines that struck me as remarkable. They ride all day, run from and shoot bad guys, sleep under the stars on a saddle blanket, and then wake up looking both clean and glamorous. (I think they made longer-lasting, more resilient hairspray and makeup back then.)

I don’t know what I wake up looking like because I have a strict rule: no looking in the mirror until after several cups of coffee. Even then, I find that it helps to keep my glasses off.

Within a few hours of life on the ranch, I’m a mess. I’m either dusty or muddy—or both. My hair soon loses all shine, volume, and control. I may smell of manure or mosquito repellent, and the integrity of my deodorant may be compromised. My favorite work clothes have stains, holes, and ragged hems. Although my “natural beauty” could stand a great deal of enhancement, I only put on makeup if we have company or are going to town.

Oh, well. At least my flowers always look and smell glamorous!

“Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul....Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy.” –PSALM 103:2,4