Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Shady Character

Today was an unseasonably warm 65°. As soon as I began working this morning, I had to shed my sweatshirt and jacket, but the livestock are stuck wearing their homegrown winter coats. All are shaded up right now! I caught this shot of Blueberry chewing her cud in the shade of a Russian olive, which is missing some leaves, not because it’s fall but because she and Meels ate as many as they could reach last summer.

 “Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty, shade from the sun, shelter from the wind, for the Compassionate One guides them, takes them to the best springs.”              ISAIAH 49:10


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cloud Peak Gleaming

Earlier today, when the dog and I were fencing, we had to come back to headquarters for more supplies. (Translation: I’d forgotten the posts!) It had been cloudy all day, but I noticed that sunshine had broken through the clouds to shine on a freshly snowed-upon Cloud Peak, which was absolutely aglow. By the time I grabbed the camera, however, the clouds shifted and the glow vanished. Besides that, Solly inserted himself between the mountain and lens as if to say, Excuse me, but I think I’m more photogenic than some stupid mountain! So, unless or until that striking moment repeats itself, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

“Never lag in zeal or in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” –ROMANS 12:11

Monday, October 29, 2012

Life Savors

According to some reports that I’ve seen on television news broadcasts, sugar is supposedly Public Enemy No. 1, but I have my doubts. Our neighbor farmer grows sugar beets every year. Every single sugar beet that I’ve seen is a vegetable. And the deer and antelope that eat the beets are the shiniest, healthiest looking ruminants you’ll find anywhere.  Hubby used to feed cut-up sugar beets to his ewes years ago, and their lambs were born healthy and with so much lanolin in their wool that they were yellow.

I used to think that a cow’s diet consisted of grass, hay, and grain, with the occasional corn stalk or beet top thrown in, depending on availability. However, ranchers are learning that cattle feed can be successfully supplemented with all kinds of foods that would otherwise be thrown away. With proper nutritional adjustments, cattle are thriving on feeds supplemented with distillers’ grains and syrups, cull vegetables such as lettuce or bell peppers, dry beans—even waste cereal, candy bars, hot chocolate mix, or cherry pies!

In this season of drought and exorbitant feed costs, such supplementation can mean the difference between keeping a herd of cows or sending them to the sale barn (where they likely will be sold for slaughter). In other words, candy bars and cherry pies are actually saving lives!

Sugar beets being harvested just moments ago.

“Kind words are like honey -- sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”          PROVERBS 16:24



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Peanut Butter Men

“Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.”                                        –James A. Garfield, 20th  U.S. President

When my dad reads this quote, he’ll undoubtedly agree unreservedly with Mr. Garfield. My dad, better known as Grampie, not only loves peanut butter, he lives by it. I think he’d prefer peanut butter on crackers to a steak sandwich for lunch. I’ve often seen him conclude a perfectly good meal (dessert included, of course—our kind always eats dessert) with a spoonful of peanut butter, unless the dessert was a Reese’s peanut butter cup or homemade peanut butter fudge.

I don’t remember much about President Garfield, but since he was a peanut butter man like Grampie, I suspect that he was a good man. Peanut butter men are smart, steady, unpretentious, honest, trustworthy, generous, and lovable. Now and then they may be a bit too salty, particularly when they’re expounding on political matters, but a touch of sweetness balances them out nicely.

Come to think of it, we could use more peanut butter men (or women) in Washington! If you don’t know one, feel free to write in Grampie’s name on the ballot:  Dr. Gary C. “Grampie” Lane.


  Grampie is the handsome dude wearing the “W” cap, fourth from the right.

“A good man obtains favor from the LORD….” –PROVERBS 12:2

Thursday, October 25, 2012


As I said yesterday, we never know what we’ll see when we look out our windows. Last weekend, Hubby looked glanced out to find a calf grazing on our front lawn under the weeping golden willow. He knew right away who it was.

The youngest of the calves, Penelope is also much smaller. Unlike the other Porky Pigs on our place, she always seems to have better things to do than eat all the time—like play-fighting (with the bushes, if no one else will play) or sight-seeing. Her self-assurance and diminutive proportions lend themselves easily to escaping from fences so she can better explore the world outside her pasture. Her mama, Petunia, calls her back but is largely ignored.

Penelope’s theme song, Born Free, is from an old movie of the same name which readers of my generation will easily recall:
Born free
As free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Free to follow your heart….
The other day, Hubby announced that the sister of a good friend is expecting a baby girl. They’ve chosen to name her Penelope.

“Good luck keeping her in the crib,” I replied.
“…He sent Me to…announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.”                –ISAIAH 61:1


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Grande March

We never know what we’re going to see when we look out our windows. Yesterday, I happened to glance out the sliding glass door and see an early Thanksgiving Day parade! Sixteen wild turkeys, of the Rio Grande variety, were marching single file between our fence and the neighbor’s sugar beet field. By the time I retrieved the camera, the procession was disappearing over the hill, so I only managed a blurry shot of the rearguard.

Our wild turkey population is sparse and reclusive, so we only get to see them once or twice a year, and then only a few at a time. I can only assume that the turkeys’ egg-nest-chick endeavors were quite successful this year, and belated congratulations are in order!

"So you'll go out in joy, you'll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause.” –ISAIAH 55:12


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


When Zach was on his Rotary student exchange in India, he met a precious girl from upstate New York. Anna’s attending college in California, but this weekend, she finally made it to Wyoming. In a few short days, she got to run, hike, climb, meet family and friends, and ride Sugar.

Anna’s ridden jumpers, dressage horses, and ex-racehorses. She appreciated Sugar’s laid-back, Quarter Horse personality. “It’s nice to ride a horse that doesn’t spook at every blade of grass,” she quipped. For her part, Sugar seemed to soak up the attention of the quietly confident, soft-handed rider who brushed her lovingly and kissed her neck when she successfully negotiated a dicey steep trail. This sweet Anna-Sugar combo made me think of a verse from 1 Peter:

“You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”                            –1 PETER 3:4

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Small Beginnings

Believe it or not, this three-inch tall plant is actually a cottonwood. It was about eight inches tall when I discovered it growing amongst some weeds in a drain ditch. But I forgot to tell Hubby about it, and he chopped it down with the rotary cutter. He cut it so short I couldn’t even find it for almost six weeks and began to doubt if it had survived. But it’s a fighter, and finally its leaves grew big enough to be recognized. In order to rescue it from John Deere drivers and Angus trampers, I transplanted it to a safer place.
This diminutive tree’s story has little import right now. But it germinated only 300 yards from the Big Tree, so they may very well carry the same DNA! Someday the former may be as big and beautiful as the latter, and we’ll say, “Remember when it was so small we couldn’t find it?”
“Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings?”


Friday, October 19, 2012

Debunking the Myths

I’m in awe of the amazing, almost magical talents of Hollywood filmmakers. The screenwriting, directing, acting, photography, sound, and editing on most motion pictures is nothing short of brilliant. Since I’d be hard-pressed to put together a You-Tube video, I hesitate to offer Hollywood even the most constructive of criticism. Nevertheless, after viewing some sincere but unintentionally stereotypical films set on a modern-day American ranch, I feel compelled to make the following points:

·         Mustangs don’t actually run wild through every canyon in the West.

·         For the most part, ranch women don’t wear a lot of button-down chambray blouses and bar-fly cowboy hats. Most of us don’t have hours to spend on our hair and make-up before we go do our chores.

·         As a rule, ranchers don’t wear denim jackets. They do wear sturdy gloves when fixing a barbed-wire fence.

·         Horses rarely, if ever, rear, paw the air, and whinny at the same time.

·         Steers don’t have udders; cows do. A Longhorn steer is not a bull just because he has horns.

·         No respectable horseman yanks on the reins, utters the words Giddy up, or gallops his horse back to the barn—unless it’s on fire.

·         Sadly, barn dances are not the norm, except for the occasional dude outfit.

·         Hay is not fed by the handful, lest livestock quickly starve to death.

·         All rich neighbors are not bad guys who are scheming to drive less-privileged ranchers off their land.

·         It’s quite possible, even preferable, to move cattle without whooping, hollering, and galloping one’s horse madly about. Also, faster is hardly ever better.

·         Regrettably, few ranchers are lucky enough to have a sagacious Native American who works for them and dispenses timely, perceptive advice on relationships and parenting.

Fact is often less enchanting than fiction, I suppose, so I doubt that Hollywood will be consulting me for advice!


“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.” –HEBREWS 11:1


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Calling All Knights!

They say chivalry is dead.

Hubby and I have watched the campaign coverage from two polarized news networks (NBC and Fox), numerous political advertisements, and three presidential debates. Maybe chivalry isn’t deceased, but it’s certainly not rewarded in a world that proclaims that the ruder, more boorish, and slimier liar the “winner” because he “scored more points” in a debate.

I personally don’t want a man with no manners or morals to run our country, even if that’s what it takes to win these days. Lily Tomlin wisely said: “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”

Encarta defines chivalry as: “the combination of qualities expected of the ideal medieval knight, especially courage, honor, loyalty, and consideration for others, especially women (italics mine).” Perhaps our modern society isn’t as progressive as we like to think.

I certainly hope that chivalry isn’t dead because we’re in dire need of some gallant knights. There are wrongs to right, maidens to rescue, dragons to slay!

“Give the gift of wise rule to the king, O God, the gift of just rule to the crown prince. May he judge your people rightly, be honorable to your meek and lowly.”       –PSALM 72:1-2


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Playing Field

Nearly every Saturday morning in autumn, college football fans wake up smiling. Anticipation for the day’s game has been building all week, as the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, injuries, interviews, and conference standings are discussed. The thrill of the sport is fueled, in part, by the tension of knowing that a contest may result in victory—or defeat. After all, if a win was predetermined, the cheers wouldn’t be as loud, the prayers as heartfelt, the plays as animated, or the execution as appreciated.

Our team, the Montana State Bobcats, lost a close game last weekend in Bozeman. Prior to the loss, the undefeated Bobcats had been ranked 2nd in the conference, but the defeat meant that they may have lost a berth in the playoffs. As the enthusiastic cheering of the crowd gave way to quieter grumbling, it was obvious by looking at the players that the loss weighed heavily on their shoulders.

Ah, but we fans should have stormed the field anyway. We should have slapped every uniformed back, shook every weary hand, thanked them for a great contest, and congratulated them for their courage and hard work. Why? Because not a single one of us has the gumption to get out there on that field, face those giants, risk injury or embarrassment, and play our hearts out for the honor of team, school, and community.
“Faith is impossible without risk. Unless there is the possibility that you can experience a rejection, or a defeat…then you’re obviously playing it so safe you can’t lose. This means you are not even on the playing field of faith.”    –Dr. Robert H. Schuller



Monday, October 15, 2012


We’re not the kind of people that try to keep up with the Jones or outdo the Smiths. We don’t envy neighbors that have newer vehicles, fancier homes, or nicer yards. We don’t covet anyone’s i-phone, deck, hot tub, or big screen TV. It doesn’t bother us that some neighbors actually have the Garden of Eden out their front door, or that others have 350-horsepower tractors (compared to our 90). On the contrary, it’s they that wish they had our big tree!

Forgive me for bragging, but in the summer, our cottonwood, which is actually several trees growing together, always seems a more vivid green than any in the area. In fall, it’s clearly more radiant than any others in the neighborhood. Come mid-October, Hubby and I frequently find ourselves saying to one another, “Look at the tree now—it’s glowing!”

It’s a good thing that our insatiable tax assessor doesn’t come this time of year for his annual valuation; if he did, he’d surely tax our glorious tree.
“ARISE [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you--rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!” –ISAIAH 60:1

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Stuck in the Muck

We have the oddest clay soils here in the Basin. When it gets wet, it doesn’t make mud—it makes muck. Muck is all at once exceedingly slippery, sticky, dense, and heavy. After a bit of sun and wind, muck’s surface can appear powder-dry, but that’s only an illusion masking the muck, as many a luckless driver can attest. Hubby recently stuck his drill truck in some very deep muck! It took seven hours, four men, and a trackhoe to extricate said truck from the muck.
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” –PSALM 40:2


Thursday, October 11, 2012


We’ve had dogs that tolerated cats and vice-versa, but Bodie and Smokey are the first to be canine-feline buddies. Actually, “partners in crime” would be a better term. They know that two of them begging a dog biscuit at the same time is so cute as to be irresistible.

When Smokey wants to go outside when it’s dark, he won’t go unless Bodie accompanies him as a bodyguard. He knows that if the dog doesn’t smell and chase a coyote or other enemy, then it’s safe for him to venture into the dark. If we know that there’s a coyote or owl about, or if the weather is too bad, we won’t let Smokey out when he mews at the door. Smokey never fails to go to Bodie, rub on him, and recruit him to pressure us to let them both out.

If one of Smokey’s evil triplets (the Terrible Tiger or, worse, the Evil Moriarty) makes an appearance, however, then Bodie will keep his distance. If provoked, he’ll even respond with a snarl and snap of the teeth. Bodie would normally be reproved for such a crime, but we understand that it’s strictly in self-defense.

Yesterday morning, Bodie and I went for a run. We were almost home when we were ambushed by the Terrible Tiger, who then proceeded to race Bodie back to the house. Bodie won but there were no hard feelings, and they rubbed noses before going inside.

Bodie and Smokey.

“God…never turns away from His friends….” –PSALM 37:28

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Back to the Future

Please accept my sincere apologies for not posting this week. I would have gladly done so, had I not been lost in a time warp while writing my December column for The Western Farmer-Stockman. In order to be in the Christmas spirit, I had to go forward in time two months, while simultaneously drawing on memories from Christmases past. No doubt this back-to-the-future trip would have been easier if it had been snowing outside, or if I’d had a mad scientist and time machine, or even an angel named Clarence*, but I managed. At any rate, let me be the absolute first to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

*Clarence Odbody/Henry Travers was George Bailey/Jimmy Stuart’s bumbling but visionary guardian angel in It’s a Wonderful Life.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Black and Blue

From our vantage point in the Big Horn Basin, we can see three mountain ranges: the Big Horns, the Owls, and the Absarokas. Since the wildfires started burning in early summer, however, we’ve been unable to see anything but blurry grey silhouettes, if that, due to the smoke. But the Canadian cold front brought some rain and snow with it, putting a damper on the fires and tidying up the sky a bit. Even as the frozen flowers drooped and blackened in their beds this afternoon, the sky seemed to remember its blueness, nearly the same hue of the tiny forget-me-nots that bloomed earlier this summer. This beautiful atmospheric revival almost made up for the demise of my flowers!

“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.”  LAMENTATIONS 3:21-23

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


The cold front from Canada arrived as predicted, and temperatures plummeted on cue. Yesterday we perspired in tank tops, working to the harmonies of robin chirps and red-tailed hawk cries; today we shivered in winter coats, working to the tune of the howling wind. Yesterday we guzzled glasses of iced tea; today we sipped mugs of steaming tea and made a pot of vegetable soup. Yesterday the animals napped in the shade; today they searched for sunshine—all except for the cat, who gave up tiger-in-the-jungle practice in favor of hibernation on the bed.

The local meteorologists, who’ve probably been bored silly all summer, with nothing to forecast but heat and red flag warnings for four months, are happily projecting snow on Friday! Ahem. Haven’t we forgotten something? I think we skipped a season!

“Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.”              –JAMES 3:17


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Good Grief

According to the weather forecast, my flowers have about 28 hours until our first hard freeze. Rats. I’m not opposed to autumn, or even winter for that matter. Both seasons certainly have their charms. It’s just that they’re so flowerless!

I could postpone the inevitable and resort to life support. I could unfold our 60-foot hay tarp, round up all the blankets and throws, and cover the flowers at night. Well, I’d still have the flowers for a while, but the yard would look trashy with the covers spread out all over it to dry.

Grief counselors say that funerals and memorial services provide much-needed closure. Hmm. A bagpiped Amazing Grace or bugled Taps would be nice, but I don’t have or play either. Actually, The Circle of Life would be much more appropriate, but I have no African drum or Lion King soundtrack.

I guess I’ll just have to mourn unceremoniously and alone (save for the honey- and bumblebees). No one in their right mind will think to send a card or drop off a casserole just because my flowers succumbed to hypothermia!

“I'll convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.” –JEREMIAH 31:13