Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In the Bag




Mercy and I wish you a Happy New Year! May it be chock full of mercy and delightful surprises!



“For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” –ZEPHANIAH 3:17 (NLT)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Gently Rounding Moon

We just call it December, but northern plains tribes had more descriptive names, like: Moon of Popping Trees (Northern Arapaho), Winter Moon (Shoshone), Moon When the Deer Shed their Antlers (Lakota), and When the Wolves Run Together (Cheyenne). Other Native Americans called it Long Night Moon or Cold Moon.

If I were to rename December, I’d call it the Cows Gently Rounding Moon because this is the month that the cows begin to look pregnant.

There’s been some “gently rounding” on my part as well, due to excess fudge and Christmas cookies, which is why I’m headed outdoors for a walk as soon as this is posted!

Flame and Sparkle


Angel

 “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” –3 JOHN 1:2 (NKJV)


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Prospects

The stems and branches of last spring’s asparagus are lifeless. Only its “berries” distinguish it from the tangle of dead annual weeds beside it. The red fruits, said to be mildly toxic to humans, must be bitter because they seem to have been largely avoided by birds, deer, and rabbits.

Ah, but we know that life for this asparagus is not as dismal as it appears. Beneath the crusty snow and frozen earth, its roots are but resting, getting ready for spring glory, just as the rotting pods are preparing to sow countless seeds.

This humble plant can encourage anyone whose New Year’s prospects look dim. “Life may not appear very promising right now,” the asparagus reassures, “but newness and wonder are coming!”


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –JEREMIAH 29:11 (NIV)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thanks to Christmas

Thanks to Christmas, we can participate in parties, school programs, movie premieres, and parades. Thanks to Christmas, we can share activities like ice skating, sledding, sleighing, shopping, and standing in line with those we love. Thanks to Christmas, we can enjoy carols, cards, cookie exchanges, concerts, and candlelight services with friends and family.

If it weren’t for Christmas, we’d go to far less gatherings, get-togethers, gift exchanges, and goat reunions!

We visited Tonto and Jack today (Meels' and Blueberry's kids)...

...and Kolton (with Jack)...

...and Hunter (with Mr. Chubs)!


The joy of a great celebration,
    sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
                                       --ISAIAH 9:3,6 (MSG)


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Better Than a Fairy Tale

When Christmas first came, the surprise wasn’t that it had come or where it had come—the virgin birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem had been foretold for centuries—but to whom it came. It didn’t come to the wealthy, educated, powerful, or prestigious. It came to nobodies.

Christmas first came to a poor girl when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she had been chosen to bear the Son of God. We don’t know what circumstances led Mary to say that the Lord had “looked upon the low station and humiliation of His handmaiden”. It seems that Mary had never known respect or popularity before Gabriel dubbed her, of all people, “O favored one”. (Luke 1:26-38, 46-55)

Nine months later, Christmas went public when angels proclaimed Jesus’ birth and whereabouts. The heavenly announcement--heralded with much noise, light, and fanfare—was not directed to priests or scholars, rulers or businessmen, but to shepherds. Held in disdain, shepherds would have been voted least worthy of front row seats to the angelic production of The Messiah or mention in numerous carols. (Luke 2:4-18)

Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong?  

--Angels We Have Heard on High
Jubilee

“He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree.” –Words of Mary, LUKE 1:52 (AMP)




  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Wonderland

Like many others do this time of year, I get up two to three hours before dawn. Today’s sunrise was well worth the wait, however. The daylight unveiled a winter wonderland so bright and dazzling that I was surprised it wasn’t preceded by a trumpet or heralded by an angelic choir!
 
Nine-month old Dazzle is wintering well
Bejeweled peachtree willows 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time….” –ECCLESIASTES 3:11 (AMP) 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thirty-Four Carat Morning

Time and winter troubles appeared to have defeated these relics of summer. Bowed and brittle, their 34 golden petals gone and forgotten, the sunflowers’ glory days seemed over for good. 

But then, while most of the world slept, the hand of Grace reached down, dusting them with a million tiny diamonds of ice!



“We find ourselves standing…out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.” –ROMANS 5:2 (MSG)


Friday, December 20, 2013

When God Decorates Christmas Trees

My morning’s walk was cold but sparkly!



“God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.”Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mercy's Tree

Our little halls are decked merrily for the holiday season, but last night, a young dinner guest asked me why we don’t have a Christmas tree. I grinned, wondering how I could explain Mercy.

Mercy is our exceptionally lively, gravity-defying 4-month old kitten. Mercy sprints. Mercy bounds. Mercy vaults. Mercy even tries to climb walls--and gets higher than you would think. To survive Mercy, a Christmas tree would have to be anchored to the floor, tethered to the wall, and suspended from the ceiling!

The only safe place for a tree: high on our highest windowsill 

“Because of and through the heart of tender mercy and loving-kindness of our God, a Light from on high will dawn upon us….” –LUKE 1:78 (AMP)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fly Fishermen

I’m not a fisherman. I don’t have enough patience. Besides, I’m squeamish about touching fish, let alone scaling and gutting them. It’s much simpler to just pop some fish sticks in the oven.

Even so, I’m privy to the whereabouts of a marvelous fishing spot that’s located on a certain bend of the Big Horn River less than a half mile from our house. There, bald eagles regularly swoop down over the water to snag fish in their sharp talons. But the eagles spend much of their time resting in the nearby cottonwoods where, I presume, they’re jawing about the big ones that got away!




“He satisfies you with goodness; your youth is renewed like the eagle.” –PSALM 103:5 (HCSB)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wallflower

Even regular readers probably don’t recognize Penelope, a heifer born to Petunia in 2011. I feel badly because, as far as I can remember, I haven’t written about her since her birth.

A wallflower, Penelope boasts no eye-catching markings, arresting looks, or noteworthy quirks that lend themselves to interesting photos or entertaining posts. Neither timid nor assertive, Penelope quietly stays well out of the limelight, watching the “stars” from the shadows. To be truthful, we rarely notice her.

As Penelope drowsed in today’s relatively warm sunshine, I knelt to take her picture. Perhaps she’s a sleeper, I thought. When she has her calf this spring, maybe she’ll shine brighter than the rest.


 “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” -PROVERBS 4:18 (KJ21)


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Indignity

 Today was a glorious 33°, which seemed positively balmy after a week of bitter cold. We took advantage of the weather-window of opportunity to get some outside work done.

One task, putting two yearling heifers in with the big cows, was an easy one. But when a skirmish broke out between the heifers and some cows, we dispatched Bodie, our cowdog, to break up the fight before someone got hurt. A few well-placed nips on some heels took care of the problem. All escaped unscathed; however, Bodie did suffer one major indignity (see photo).

Yes, that is what you think it is: alfalfa by-products. It’s a good thing that cowdogs don’t have unions!

Bodie, embarrassed and disgruntled


“…Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy.” –PSALM 103:4 (AMP)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Everblooming

I was just thumbing through some photos I took a few months ago. Many of the images were of flowers—roses, asters, marigolds, sunflowers, calendulas. I miss their vibrant colors and layers of delicate petals frequented by honeybees shopping for nectar. Sigh.

I asked myself the obvious: Why does a flowerholic like me live in such an intemperate climate?

I’m not sure.

Thankfully, I do have Blossom, who is sweet and lovely all year round!

My all-season Blossom (taken at 0° F with light snow)



“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms…
    and the fields lie empty and barren…
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!” –HABAKKUK 3:17-18 (NLT)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Moey the Merry Reindeer

As Moey’s agent and publicist, I’m very proud to present Moey in her debut as Moey the Merry Reindeer. Moey didn’t even have to audition for the part. By virtue of her coloring and naturally merry disposition, she was actually the inspiration for it!

Today wasn’t Moey’s first gig—she’s graced blog and Facebook stages for months—but it was her first costumed engagement. Other than her one futile attempt at outrunning the ribbon and another at tasting the bow, Moey’s reindeer interpretation was remarkable!


“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine….” –PROVERBS 17:22 (KJ21)


Monday, December 9, 2013

Rumen-ations

Winter doesn’t officially start until the 21st, but according to our thermometer, it has already made an untimely and largely unwelcome appearance. Bringing us recent lows of -13° F to -18° F and highs only in the single digits, winter has rather rudely deposed autumn.

Of all our animals, the cows seem the least bothered by the cold, perhaps because we keep them on the chubby side to insulate them for just such untoward weather. They also have abundant pasture to provide calories as well as fuel for the rumination process.  In a cow’s rumen, which is essentially a 60-gallon fermentation vat, millions of microorganisms break down carbon-hydrogen-oxygen bonds, producing heat. The more fiber in the rumen, the more heat is produced.

Meanwhile, we humans rely on Thermoses of coffee or hot tea, numerous layers of under- and outerwear, our warmest boots and hats, and multiple pairs of wool socks and mittens to keep us warm when we’re out doing chores. But still we get cold and scurry back into the house, where we pretend we have rumens and need to eat another Christmas cookie to keep us warm!

Princess, relaxed and napping this 8° F morning

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” –GENESIS 8:22 (AMP)





Saturday, December 7, 2013

More Pandas

On our way back from this morning’s walk, Hubby spied a cow lying down a ways from the herd. A lone cow is usually a bad sign, so we made our way over there and found Sundae with a lame and swollen foreleg.

Sundae is a gentle sort, but today she had no intention of leaving the other cows to accompany two people and a dog to the barn to be doctored. Some ranchers might have enlisted a horse and rope or jumped on some ATVs, but we simply recruited Panda.

Regular readers may remember Panda, the two-year old cow who won this year’s Qué Será, Será Award (see http://hayseedfiles.blogspot.com/2013/04/awards-week-pt-1.html)  because she never gets worried or upset about anything. Anyway, all we did point Panda barnwards, and she serenely led Sundae the whole way.

“I hope Panda has a heifer calf this year,” Hubby remarked later.

“Yes,” I heartily concurred, “the world needs more Pandas!”


Sundae following Panda


“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives…things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.” –GALATIONS 5:22 (MSG)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Out of the Ordinary

My Quarter Horse mare, Sugar, leads a rather unassuming, obscure life. She’s never graced a show ring, cutting pen, rodeo arena, race track, or parade route. She’s never won a ribbon or garnered a check. No one has ever cheered for her performance or draped flowers over her neck.

But that’s only because people have never seen Sugar sleep. If sleeping was an equestrian event, I dare say she could compete with the world’s finest. Sugar sleeps so soundly and dramatically that many a concerned onlooker has mistaken her for dead or dying. And Sugar doesn’t need a sunny hillside or warm bed of straw to induce deep slumber. When this photo was snapped this morning, it was only 1° F!


“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me…and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.” –MATTHEW 11:29 (AMP)


Thursday, December 5, 2013

More Coffee, Please

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” –Sinclair Lewis

Truer words could not be spoken for those of us who inhabit the interior and northern regions of the country—even more so if we’re caring for livestock.

When the snow piles up, or the mercury dips below 0° F, or the bitter winds blow—or all of the above—we have to ensure that our animals are safe, have access to shelter and water, and get the increased caloric consumption they need to stay warm and healthy. And we plan, prepare, and stockpile feed, but diesel engines, stock tank heaters, and even power sources can fail in storms and frigid temperatures and so require as much or more attention than the animals themselves.

But the reason that I’m yawning at only 6:58 pm has less to do with winter work than the fact that it’s been too cold (sub-zero and counting) for the cat to go outdoors for his midnight hunts. Instead, he and the kitten play noisy games of Tiger Tag, Safari, and ACW (American Cat Wresting) all night!

The horses were covered with frost this morning--but better-rested than us!

The sparrows are grateful for the bitter cold that keeps the cat indoors. Besides, they have the barn for shelter and the goats' molasses-covered grain for regular meals!



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Connection

Today we traded some of our extra hay to a neighbor for some of his surplus straw. We use straw to bed the barn as well as provide a dry place for the calves to rest in the spring. Additionally, the goats love to play mountain-goat games on small bales of straw stacked in pyramids.

One of the guys that delivered the straw was helping Hubby stack it next to the goat pen. When Meels, Blueberry, and the gang came to investigate, the stranger broke into a huge grin.

“I know them. Those are Nigerian goats!” he exclaimed. He introduced himself as Timothy from Nairobi, Kenya, and happily went on to tell Hubby about seeing Nigerian Dwarf goats in Africa and how important goats were to the livelihood of his countrymen.

I’ve been smiling ever since because, thanks to Blueberry and Meels, the world has shrunk!


 “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” –1 JOHN 4:7 (HCSB)





Monday, December 2, 2013

Wonders

I happened upon the little band of Sheep Mountain mustangs again! This time they weren’t running but rather drowsily soaking up some warmer-than-usual sunshine, so I was able to get a better look. I couldn’t help but notice some Roman noses, steep croups, and cow-hocks.

When I was young, I thought all horses were amazing and wonderful—no matter their breed or conformation. But then I joined 4-H and learned to “judge horses”, to identify the subtle shortcomings that diminished an animal’s worth or usefulness. What the less-informed called “beautiful”, I dubbed ewe-necked, straight-shouldered, narrow-chested, or apple-butted.

Over the years, horse judging gave me knowledge, analytical skills, and a state trophy (just as growing up taught me what’s wrong with dandelions, crayon art, store Santas, white bread, and the girl in the mirror). But the more I learned to look with a critical eye, the more blinded to wonders I became. 

Band of wild horses seen last Friday near Sheep Mtn. (north of Greybull)

Hubby saw these mustang colts today (in the hills east of Greybull) 

“…The best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” –PHILIPPIANS 4:8 (MSG) 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Highway Congestion

Although Wyoming is the sixth largest state, our actual population is a meager 576,412. Granted, we don’t have much political clout, but we do have plenty of elbow room. One would assume that, with only 5.8 residents per square mile, traffic jams would be nonexistent. On the contrary! Why, just this past Friday, several hundred heifers brought highway traffic to a standstill for nearly 10 minutes!


“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” –PSALM 84:5 (AMP)


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Exodus


Today was Thanksgiving for us. Coincidentally, it was also our cows’ favorite day of the year: the day they’re turned out from the small pasture onto the large hayfields. We humans stuffed ourselves with a big spread, but I think the cows and heifers feasted even more!


I'd told Princess earlier what day it was. As usual, she either understood my English or read my mind because she was the first one out of the gate.
Not surprisingly, Dazzle paused to mug for the camera. She and her mama Cupcake seem to know how photogenic they are and almost always stop what they're doing to pose right in front of me.

 As Sundae and Bubbles jogged past, Sugar watched enviously in the background. The horses did get turned out later in the day but exhibited a great deal more exuberance. They may still be running now!

“Oh, thank God—he’s so good…All of you set free by God, tell the world!” –PSALM 107:1-2 (MSG)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Circles

Other than one rotund, orange-breasted specimen, we haven’t seen any robins for over a month, so we were delighted when a dozen or so robins suddenly appeared in our yard at lunchtime. I noticed that the robins weren’t alone. Almost 20 starlings pecked in my flower beds and rested in the branches right alongside the robins. One female starling, in particular, fed side-by-side with the robins.

I remember that the robins that resided and reproduced here last summer consorted, apparently harmoniously, with a small flock of starlings. I recall that one female starling seemed always to associate more closely with the robins than with her own kind. 

Could be the very same birds? If so, where have they been these past five weeks? I always thought bird migration to be basically longitudinal, but these feathered friends seem to be traveling in circles!



“Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.” –EPHESIANS 4:2 (AMP)


Monday, November 25, 2013

Nest Therapy

The Bighorn Basin, where we live, receives less than 10 inches of annual precipitation. Were it not encompassed by four distinct mountain ranges, it would surely be called the Bighorn Desert. At any rate, our arid climate typically provides ideal conditions for my solvophobic goats.

Solvophobia, the fear of dissolving in water, is latent during drought and dry spells but problematic during and after rain and snow events. The goats spent the last snowstorm in the barn, but when the sun came out, we were compelled to scrape the snow off of a sunny knoll and make a nest for them with straw and hay.

Minnie and Moey up in the nest

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds.” –PROVERBS 27:23 (AMP)


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Snowflowers

Rubber rabbitbrush "blooming" this sub-zero morning

“He wraps you in goodness….” –PSALM 103:5 (MSG)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Embellishments

Cupcakes are always better with sprinkles, which is the primary reason that I have a stash of—I’m reluctant to admit this—28 containers (hey, most are very small bottles) of sprinkles in my cupboard.  Well, Cupcake must subscribe to the same theory because yesterday she played in the hay, embellishing herself with hundreds of tiny green sprinkles.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Going My Way?

Moey has flourished so much these past few months that I sometimes forget how tiny and timid she used to be. She’s almost as tall as her sister Minnie, and every bit as confident, plump, and playful. Gone are the days when she wanted to be carried everywhere instead of running, skipping, and kicking her heels—or so I thought.

The latest storm left just 3 inches of snow, but Moey thought it was 3 inches too much. The other goats were glad to get out of the barn this afternoon, but Moey detested the feel of the cold, wet powder on her feet. She parked herself in a patch of bare dirt in the lee of some tractor tires, where she loudly submitted a barrage of I-hate-snow-please-carry-me requests!


“Save Your people and bless Your heritage; nourish and shepherd them and carry them forever.” –PSALM 28:9 (AMP)



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Vim

Bodie, our Border collie-blue heeler-Catahoula cross, enjoys his typical ranch duties: herding cows, trying to herd goats, putting up with cats, holding down vehicle seats, terrifying visitors, and exercising rabbits. But Bodie’s activity-of-choice is walking, hiking, or running with his family. Bodie prefers to run with son Zach, who runs faster and further than those of us who are older and more sluggish!

Zach and Bodie running to their grandparents' house


Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
–ISAIAH 40:31 (NASB)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Herding the Wind

A group of wind generators is called a wind farm, but I’ve taken the liberty of renaming this one in Shirley Basin: wind ranch.

Just look at the iconic Wyoming ranch scene below: sagebrush, gnarled cedar posts, barbed wire fence, wide expanse of grassland, distant mountain range, no trees. In my travels down the highway past this place, I’ve seen herds of cattle grazing beneath the wind gens, but I’ve never seen a single row of corn, wheat, barley, sugar beets, or any typical Wyoming crop. Looks like a ranch to me.

When I drove past yesterday, the wind was gusting hard enough to require a firm grip by both hands on the steering wheel. I didn’t see any cows and could only assume that they had blown away.


“…He was seen upon the wings of the wind.” –2 SAMUEL 22:11 (AMP)


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Piled High


This looked more like a giant cow-cupcake than a haystack! A yearling steer (left) appeared to be scrounging for "crumbs" which the wind may have blown off the top.



"What a stack of blessing you have piled up

    for those who worship you." -PSALM 31:19 (MSG)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ranch P.R.

When folks drop by our place, Bodie barks so discourteously and ferociously that some people aren’t sure whether they should get out of their vehicles. Meanwhile, the cats run and hide, at least until they are sure that the intruders didn’t bring any dogs with them. Our cows like us but are rather stand-offish with strangers. The horses and goats are more sociable, but the former can be intimidating to the non-horsey set, especially little kids; hence, the goats have assumed most public relations duties.  Their cuteness and unreserved affability serve them well in their positions as ambassadors for the ranch!

Alexia feeding crackers to Blueberry

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us….” –2 CORINTHIANS 5:20 (NASB)


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bright Spots

Cold and time have begun to muddy nature’s pallet so that the only golden leaves that remain are on the calendars that hang on my walls. Life isn’t dull, however, because so much beauty and fun await me every day, if only I look expecting to find them.

Sagebrush gone to seed

The wild roses still glow russet 

The kids romp atop the flatbed trailer


“The unthankful heart…discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” –HENRY WARD BEECHER

Monday, November 11, 2013

Great Ones

Today was sunless and cold, but my day was brightened by the sight of some wild turkeys snacking in the neighbor’s barley field. The reclusive beauties only come around a few times every November, so a glimpse of them is something of a luxury.

I suppose that the reason the turkeys are so shy of humans is simple: wild turkeys taste good, so people hunt them. They needn’t fear me, however. For one thing, I don’t hunt. Besides, my son and I were present when their ancestors, some Rio Grande turkeys transported from Oklahoma, were first released 15 miles from here in 1996. These are their great-great-great-great-great-grandturkeys!


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



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Camo Specialists

Our little town has just one small department store, so my knowledge of fashion trends is extremely limited. It appears to me, however, that camouflage is “in” this year. Our store is full of camouflage coats, hats, and clothing for men, women and children, as well as camo bedding, curtains, vehicle seat covers and floor mats, chairs, knives, notebooks, backpacks, water bottles, cell phone cases, coolers, cameras, and pet supplies. To the best of my knowledge, they don’t stock camo Christmas decorations or toothpaste—yet.

I suspect that the increase in camo-decorated merchandise can be attributed to the wildly popular TV series, Duck Dynasty, which I’ve never seen. I did see these mule deer camouflaged in their bedding grounds the other day. Actually, when I snapped the photo, I only saw two deer, but when I got closer, eight of them rose from their hiding place and ran off. If you enlarge and study the photo (sorry about its graininess—mulies are rather camera shy), you’ll see why deer are truly masters of camouflage!



“Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.” –ISAIAH 35:5 (MSG)