Sunday, June 30, 2013


Jubilee is still a busy little bee but is no longer stand-offish. She’s decided that we people are rather fun to climb on and jump off of, and that snuggling can be rather pleasant. As I nuzzled that little darling who sat nestled in my lap this morning, I felt quite flattered by her fuzzy, warm closeness.

I’ve also been enjoying the companionship of Jubilee’s Auntie Meels as I take her on her morning walks. The path we follow meanders through a delightful windbreak of old ash and apple trees planted by Colton and Hunter’s great-great-grandmother!

"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." –PSALM 16:11 (AMP)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Gambrel Grace

In my estimation, nothing constructed by human hands is more winsome and delightful than an old barn. Old barns--especially red ones with gambrels--just seem to age more gracefully than houses, schools, and storefronts. I’m fascinated by the tales that old barns could tell, if only they could speak.

If old barns weren’t so cumbersome, I’d collect them like some folks collect period furnishings, vintage jewelry, or antique housewares. As it is, I can only amass painted, photographed, glazed, quilted, or stitched images of old barns. (It's a wonder that I didn't name my son Barnabas.)

Sugar and the goats are staying on a ranch which boasts this beautiful, century-old barn. I hope to learn—and pass along—some of its stories!

“…Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God.” –HABAKKUK 3:17 (MSG)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Kid Cam

Little Jack was a wild and crazy kid this morning, leaping, twisting, and spinning. If he was 1500 pounds heavier, he could give those PBR (Professional Bull Riders) cowboys the ride of their lives!

Not to be outdone, Jubilee entertained her audience by scaling the nearest boulder (a mineral block, actually) in fairly respectable mountain goat style.

Colton, Hunter, and I decided that if we had the equipment and know-how, we’d set up camcorders in the barn, so viewers could watch live renditions of Where the Wild Things Are, as (very loosely) interpreted by little Jack and Jubilee. We’d call it the Kid Cam.

Rodeo goat

Mountain goat

“A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.” –PROVERBS 17:22 (NKJV)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Trotting Lessons

Sugar seems to enjoy the riding lessons as much as her students do. She always volunteers for duty, coming up to be caught and standing patiently while they awkwardly halter her.

Most of Hunter and Colton’s riding has been on the lunge line, so they can concentrate on balance, leg position, and seat before using a bridle. They’re also learning that a horse can be directed with subtle body and voice cues, instead of stereotypical-but-unkind kicks and pulls on the reins.

Sugar’s pupils graduated to a trot yesterday. Sitting a trot is usually a difficult task for a beginner, but since Sugar’s jog is silky-smooth, the kids rode like old cowhands in record time!

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
    will find life and honor.”

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

GBN* News

GBN (Goat Broadcasting Network) Evening News:

Little Jubilee and Jack are thriving. This morning the little kids were hopping in place as if on pogo sticks, so I hurried to get my camera. Of course, they didn’t repeat their performance once I was shutter-ready. They did wear out soon, however, and snuggled together for a nap.

I’m not sure when their Aunt Meels is going to kid, but I think it may be sooner than later!

“…Hold fast to love and mercy, to righteousness and justice, and wait [expectantly] for your God continually!” —HOSEA 12:6 (AMP)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Who's Who

At the ripe old age of 2 days, Blueberry’s kids already display distinct personalities. Jubilee has little patience for cuddling and complains loudly if detained. Full of curiosity, orneriness, and joie de vivre, she’s too busy investigating her world, hip-hopping around the stall, and playing with her brother to be petted.

In contrast, Jack is much mellower than his twin. Oh, he skips and runs after Jubilee, but if he attempts a flying leap in the air and happens to fall down, he often just stays there on his side. It’s as if he’s thinking, Hmm. While I’m down here, I might as well rest. Jack is much less opposed to petting and snuggling. The only time he gets excited is mealtime!

“We know sorrow, yet our joy is inextinguishable.” –2 CORINTHIANS 6:9 (PHILLIPS)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Proudly Presenting...

I’m not a grandmother, but I have two grandkids—kid goats, that is—thanks to Blueberry! Their cuteness speaks louder than words, so, without further ado....


 A good mama


“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” –ROMANS 5:5 (NKJV)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Love, Loyalty, Liberty

Whenever our horses or cows managed to escape the confines of their fence, they usually vacated the premises and headed, tails in the air, for the nearest horizon, which elicited panic until they were found, embarrassment because they were eating someone else’s pasture, and much inconvenience and time lost in the process of repatriation. Equines and bovines certainly have many redeeming qualities, but loyalty is not on the list!

But when Blueberry and Meels, my goats, are given their freedom—or snatch it for themselves—they don’t run away. They may knock over a trash can, climb onto a toolbox, jump aboard a car hood, or prune the geraniums by the front step, but they don’t play Jailbreak like their barnyard counterparts do.

I can’t help but wonder if my does’ allegiance would falter if they didn’t trust me to care for, protect, and even indulge them. What if I ever—God forbid—harmed, frightened, or neglected them? Would they pack their proverbial bags and trot off into the sunset?

Following me on a walk 

“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

Saturday, June 22, 2013

No Hurries

“Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m so proud of Sugar. Yesterday, she stood patiently for over an hour and a half while Colton, Hunter, and Autumn learned how to safely saddle, unsaddle, mount, and dismount. Proof of Sugar’s patience: she was neither tied nor held during the lesson, and she only interrupted the proceedings a few times to itch the occasional insect bite.

My job is easy because my pupils are ranch kids who know how to be gentle with animals and aren’t afraid of hard work. Their efforts were rewarded with a ride on Sugar, and then she was compensated with a brush-down, oats, and more fly repellent. By the time the lesson was over, four humans smelled just like one horse, but all of us were pleased.

Bodie would have me mention that he was patiently waiting in the vehicle the entire time. Bodie’s steadfast, uncomplaining endurance may have had something to do with the fact that he was afraid of the ranch’s huge, unfriendly Great Pyrenees, Casper! 

“…Strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness…” –COLOSSIANS 1:11 (KJ21)

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Cure

If pride is an issue for you, I know a definitive cure: take up golf and goats.

Learning generally comes easy for me, but, as the very patient instructor of my golf class can tell you, I have a golfing disability. I’ve been mainstreamed into the class with my non-disabled peers; however, if the golf course was a school, I’d have a resource room teacher, paraprofessional, physical therapist, counselor, occupational therapist, and IEP (Individualized Education Plan).

In contrast, goats are fairly easy to care for and exceptionally easy to love. Nevertheless, the nuances of their hormonal cycles, pregnancy, gestation, and parturition have been far trickier to learn than I care to admit. I thought Meels and Blueberry should have kidded in early June, but I was wrong. If their tummies and udders weren’t expanding daily, I’d have to wonder if they were even expecting at all. As I’ve discovered, the science of cattle obstetrics is far less ambiguous than that of goats, and far less humbling!


“O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear.”
–PSALM 10:17 (NASB)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Fan Club

When I went to catch Sugar to load her in the trailer for her trip (see yesterday’s blog), I wondered if she had missed me at all. My question was answered: when she saw me, she whinnied three times. One whinny would have sufficed, but three were quite a blessing!

Sugar has adjusted well to her new pasture and is already helping me teach horsemanship to three adoring fans. As the photo illustrates, she is truly relishing the attention!

“…Yet our God turned the curse into a blessing.” –NEHEMIAH 13:2 (AMP)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Amazingly Gracious

After I left the ranch, I didn’t know how I was going to get my goats and horse to safety, but God’s grace provided transportation and temporary homes for them—one of which was with amazingly gracious strangers.

Then I didn’t know how to find my animals more permanent digs close to where I’m staying, but God’s grace provided a wonderful new ranch for them to live—with amazingly gracious strangers who did an amazing amount of work to prepare their new home.

I didn’t know how I could transport the animals that far (since I’m now ranchless, I’m also truck-and-trailerless), but God’s grace provided a great truck, goat box, and horse trailer, also loaned by amazingly gracious strangers.

I only pray that I'll someday be able to extend such grace to strangers in need!


“Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” –HEBREWS 13:2 (ASV)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ladies (and Gentlemen) in Red

When I was young—I won’t say how many years ago because the numbers are, er, irrelevant—most of the cattle one saw in Wyoming were either Herefords or Hereford crosses. As time has passed, I’ve grown older and cattle have grown steadily blacker (due to increasing popularity of the Black Angus breed), so a purebred Hereford herd isn’t an everyday sight. When I drove past these calves today, I couldn’t resist snapping their pictures.

Seeing these gentle, beautiful Herefords reminded me of some grand, old-time brandings, the kind where calves were roped from horseback, and we young folks held their legs while they were vaccinated, branded, and castrated. Even after all these years, I still remember how tired, stinky, and dirty we were, not to mention how delicious those homemade pies were afterwards!

“For every beast of the forest is Mine and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” –PSALM 50:10 (KJV21)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Believe It or Not

Among the many people, animals, and things I’ve been grieving since I left the ranch are my many flowers. Sometimes when I pass a bed of colorful blossoms and roses which remind me of my own, my stomach hurts. Nevertheless, I’ve found solace in weeding flowerbeds where I’m staying as well as in seeing the abundance of wildflowers growing nearly everywhere I go.

On one of my lowest days, when the horizon of my future seemed so dark and all hope seemed lost, I actually saw a crimson rose blooming at, of all places, a highway rest area—near the Women’s door!

Sainfoin growing on roadside

“Hope appears even in the worst of times to give us proof of God’s presence.” Nick Vujicik, LIMITLESS, DEVOTIONS FOR A RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LIFE

Thursday, June 13, 2013


It’s all Dr. Seuss’ fault.

Nearly two decades ago when Zach was little, I read stories to him before every nap and bedtime. Great Day for Up by Dr. Seuss was a mutual favorite and thus read maybe a hundred times or so. The book seemed harmless enough. Neither Dr. Seuss nor I could possibly have imagined the impact it would have on my son, who would grow up ever being driven upwards by the philosophy that every day is a great day for up. Apparently, the upper, the better—whether up on the Grand Teton, up on a temple in Gujarat, or up on a wall in Yemen.

“You hold me up with a firm hand.” –PSALM 18:33 (MSG)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gnats and Roses

Last night, I sat around a table with six women I’d never met. We varied widely in age, race, interests, and socioeconomic status, but as we shared our stories, it became apparent that we’ve all lived parallel lives, marriage-wise. Each narrative was a painful lyric sung to a melody of fear, hurt, and shame.

One could argue the cause but the effect is blatantly obvious: even between the seven of us, we couldn’t amass enough self-worth, self-respect, and self-confidence to fit in a gnat’s backpack! Even so, somehow we’ve summoned just enough strength and faith to crawl out of the ruins and pull ourselves to our feet.

As I was driving away from last night’s meeting, I heard my now-favorite song on the radio: Rise (Link to song). It reminds me of my favorite verses in the Bible (see below), and besides, it's gnat-free.

He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
    pardon all prisoners...
 And to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes….
                                                --ISAIAH 61:1-4 (MSG)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hope Stuns

Look closely at my photo. Besides a stunningly gorgeous clump of wildflowers, what do you see? Yep, you’re right: bare, stony ground and some prickly pear cactus. Isn’t it wonderful to see something so beautiful growing in the midst of such ugliness? It gives me hope, and I hope (no pun intended) it does the same for you.

“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)

Monday, June 10, 2013


Yesterday was my second hike with Anna. On both occasions, we marveled at the sight of trees growing out of rocks.

You may not be all that impressed, unless you know how hard it is to get trees to grow in our dry, cold, windy Wyoming climate—even when planted in soil carefully, weeded lovingly, and irrigated religiously. The pine in this photo deserves the highest honors for bravery and triumph in the battle for survival!

“Life will find a way,” Anna said.

“Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life….” –JOHN 14:6

Sunday, June 9, 2013


“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine penned these words during the American Revolution, but they could very well have been written about my current state of affairs—and perhaps yours as well.

If I allow myself much time to ponder all that’s painful, missing, unjust, or frightening in my life right now, then the heaviness of sorrow and anxiety threaten to crush me. My chest tightens so much that sometimes it seems too difficult to breathe. But it really helps when tell myself, It’s in God’s hands, and I focus on the gifts that He’s given me that day, whether it’s blooming roses, a Labrador service dog nuzzling my hand, encouraging people, beautiful wildflowers, or a hike in the mountains. These gifts and more were mine this weekend! What were yours?

“I’m hurt and in pain; give me space for healing, and mountain air.” –PSALM 69:29 (MSG)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cow Books and Jeans

Today was the first day of my first writer's conference. Since I’ve never attended one before, I was a bit apprehensive about what to wear. Hayseed that I am, my nicest clothes are just nicer jeans.

When I first walked into the Hilton’s conference center, everyone I saw was dressed to the nines. Wow, I thought to myself, these writers must be much more successful than I am. Maybe I don’t belong here. Thankfully, I soon realized that I was in the midst of a medical conference; the writing conference was in another part of the building. I soon discovered that most authors and poets aren’t much more concerned about fashion than I am!

All the writing talk got me to thinking about writing a book. “They” always say to write about what one knows and loves, so I guess I’ll write a cow book. I’ve already brainstormed a few titles which may or may not be loosely “borrowed” from more well-known tomes:

o   Women Who Love Cows Too Much
o   The Cow in the Alfalfa
o   A Tale of Two Pastures
o   The Old Cow and the Prairie
o   One Thousand and One Cows
o   Of Cattle and Cattlemen

“God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.” –2 SAMUEL 22:25 (MSG)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shining Through

Some years back, some guys I’ve never met* wrote a song. Then, a singing group which I’d never heard of**, from a country I’ve never been to, recorded that song.

Four years later, when the storm clouds that had been brewing on my horizon grew closer and more threatening, I opened a cardboard box from my sister. Among other items was a CD with that song on it. At the time, she didn’t know about the storm or even the song that would give me strength to weather it, but God did.

I can’t carry a tune across a corral, but I’ve sung this song countless times as a prayer, sometimes with bold faith but more often with sighs or sobs. But every time, the words to this beautiful song have never failed to reassure me that no matter how dark and raging the storm, my Lord will indeed come shining through, carrying me with Him.

(Click on the purple "Always There" link below to hear it.)

*Brendan Graham, Rolf Lovland
**The Canadian Tenors

“You’ve always been right there for me….” –PSALM 27:9 (MSG)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Bodie, our Border collie-blue heeler-catahoula cowmutt, has more than his share of quirks and protective instincts which sometimes embarrass me—just ask the ditch rider and UPS drivers—but his intelligence and intuition always amaze me.

In the past months of increasing angst on the ranch, Bodie knew something was amiss. At night, he abandoned his usual bed on the loveseat and slept beside me on the floor. Actually, he didn’t seem to sleep any better than I did. Even when he and I were alone on the ranch, Bodie was as nervous as I, startling and barking at what seemed like nothing.

After I left the ranch, I went back a few times to get my goats and horse to safety. I would have thought that Bodie would be happy to be back on the ranch, and that he’d grab the chance to chase those rascally rabbits that hang around the barnyard. But no, he just lay under my vehicle, making certain that I didn’t leave him there. And when Bodie and I reached a safe place, he flopped down and slept soundly all night and most of the next day.

Even though I know the Lord has been with me these past dark days, I thank Him for giving me Bodie for tangible consolation!

“In the multitude of my anxious thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul.” –PSALM 97:19 (AMP)

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Had a Dream

Regular readers may have noticed that I haven't been blogging from the ranch. That’s because—and you can’t imagine how it pains me to say this—I left the ranch. More specifically, I left a husband whose words, actions, and choices made life unbearable and sometimes dangerous. I was afraid to leave—afraid of retribution, of what would become of the animals and ranch, of starting a new life with next to nothing, of the grief and shame of a failed marriage. But when the fear of staying became greater than the fear of leaving, I left.

I had a dream that our ranch would one day be a place for redemption and healing, a haven for abused women and children to regain hope, serenity, and self-esteem through counseling, prayer, and therapy work with the livestock and garden. Ironically, I now find myself desperately seeking hope, serenity, and self-esteem! 

A few days ago, I got to help give shots at a branding. Although my eyes were red and watering from the blowing smoke and dust, limited sleep, and tears, I did manage to snap one good photo. It's not taken on the ranch I love, but at least it's from a ranch!

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” –Oswald Chambers

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Not Forsaken

When I saw Peewee napping in some friends' corral the other day, I had to get his picture because he must be one of the smallest calves I’ve ever seen. A few days previous, he was found wandering alone, apparently motherless. Due to his size and the fact that no cows were missing, it’s thought that Peewee could be the smaller of twins and therefore rejected.

Peewee was being bottle fed until last Thursday, when a heifer lost her calf. The dead calf was skinned so that its hide could be tied onto Peewee in hopes that he would smell enough like her own calf that the heifer would adopt him. She did! The grafting was successful, and now Peewee has a mama.

“And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”
–PSALM 9:10