Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Piece of Hope

At first glance, this scrap of a rainbow doesn’t impress, unless you know that the rainfall total for the past 30 days is only 0.17 inches! With an average annual precipitation rate of 8 inches in this area, drought is pretty much the norm. Rainbows are so uncommon that even the sighting of a snippet like this one is a special occasion!

“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
    today I declare that I will restore to you double. –ZECHARIAH 9:12 (NASB)    

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mightier Every Day

Just over a week ago, we were so worried about little Mocha. Despite our doctoring and supplementation, Mo just wasn’t thriving. Although she had a good appetite, she didn’t run and play like the other kids did. She was so timid that even while nursing, she quit trying if her mama moved at all. When I went to do chores in the cool of the morning, I’d find her shivering because her hair coat, while fluffy, was rather sparse.

Seven days have passed since I started calling her Mo the Mighty and asking friends to pray. While she’s still not chubby by any means, her eyes are brighter and clearer. She’s got more gumption, so she gets much more of her mama’s milk. Instead of hanging back and crying when her family leaves her, she’s running, skipping, and keeping up with them. New frosty-colored hair is even coming in, and there’s no more shivering!

“Mo, you’re getting mightier every day,” I told her this morning.

“He opens a place in his heart for the down-and-out; he restores the wretched of the earth.” –PSALM 72:13 (MSG) 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Sharecroppers

Ladybugs are a common sight on our ranch; in fact, they work here. We give the ladybugs free room and board and all the alfalfa weevils they can eat. In exchange, they keep the population of very hungry alfalfa weevils in check for us. It’s something of a sharecropping deal.

Most farmers in this area hire spray pilots to fly over their hayfields and spray for the weevils, but we don’t like to kill ladybugs and other beneficial insects, nor do we want our animals ingesting chemicals like that. But our fields yield as much or more tonnage as those that get sprayed, thanks to the ladybugs.

Perhaps the ladybugs have eaten themselves out of a job! I saw some of them moonlighting on a rubber rabbitbrush yesterday.

“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.” –GALATIONS 6:9 (MSG)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Supply Chain Economics

When I went for my morning walk, I saw that bees had already set up shop on the edge of the hayfields where sweet clover and sunflowers flourish next to the irrigation pipe.

I wonder if anyone has ever tried to calculate how many critters receive nourishment from one sunflower. Its nectar nourishes a number of bees and, ultimately, honey-eating humans. Its seeds will feed many birds and mice this fall. At least a few of those seeds will probably scatter, escape notice, and produce next summer’s flowers, which will supply nectar and seeds to new generations of pollinators, birds, and rodents—and more honey.

For wildlife, one sunflower is a combination farm and Walmart!

“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bucket Baby

Mo’s prospects are looking up (see Mo the Mighty). She’s learning to like Calf Manna, and the supplemental milk replacer seems to be making her stronger too. Even better, we figured out that her mama, Meels, was bothered by her collar so not eating as much as she could have. Once we took it off, her feed consumption and milk production increased noticeably, so there’s more for Mo.

Mo had a messy bottom which was attracting flies, so I dunked her in a bucket of warm suds, swished her around, rinsed her in clean water, and dried her in a towel. She didn’t seem to mind. Besides, she got several kisses and a willow leaf snack out of the deal!

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” –I CORINTHIANS 12:9 (MSG)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bee Nice

Although I call them “my” flower beds, much of the credit is due the dozens, if not hundreds, of tiny assistant gardeners bustling out there even as I write. Many of my associates are honeybees that come from some hives about a quarter mile away. Others are of wilder or bumbler ilk, but we all work side by side in floral harmony.

I did witness a mid-air skirmish the other day. One of the bees, intent on its hunt for the tastiest Echinacea nectar, accidentally flew into one of its colleagues, who took offense. Being too busy to come to blows, they buzzed crossly at one another but then hurried back to business, as did I. August wanes, and summer’s blooms can be brought to a screeching halt with one early September frost, so there’s no time for Apidaen hostilities.

“Those with good sense are slow to anger,
    and it is their glory to overlook an offense.” –PROVERBS 19:11 (NRSV)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mo the Mighty

There’s something about Mo. Maybe it’s her deer-like coloring, snuggly gentleness, diminutive size, or independent spirit—whatever it is, she’s everyone’s favorite. Kids and adults alike scoop her up into their arms, and before long, they start talking about taking her home.

Unfortunately, Mo is a bit timid, so she doesn’t get as much milk as she needs. She’s tiny and allows herself to be pushed around by her siblings. She’s being supplemented with milk replacer and Calf Manna, and she eats grain, hay, and weeds, but she’s still too thin.

This morning, I decided that Mo needs to see herself not as a victim or even a survivor but a conqueror. “From now on,” I told her, “you’re Mo the Mighty. You're not weak, you’re mighty! You're not scared, you’re mighty!”

“Let the weak say, I am strong [a warrior]!” –JOEL 3:10 (AMP)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Two out of three beds have now been redeemed from wilderness to flower garden. Hubby was kind enough to water them but was too busy to keep them tidy, so the sunflowers, grasses, clovers, kochia, and other weeds were hogging all the sunlight and water. After much ripping and snipping, I’ve managed to rescue many of the perennials and annuals. Many were tall and gangly, having had to stretch so high to catch some rays, so I had to rather ruthlessly lop them off. I’m so delighted to be puttering in my flower beds once again that I don’t mind that they look like a really bad haircut!

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shade Tree Cows

“He’s just a shade tree cowboy.” Such an expression doesn’t necessarily refer to a cowboy who’d rather lounge in the shade than work in the sun. Instead, it’s usually used to good-naturedly describe anyone who chooses ease over strenuous exertion and comfort over immoderate weather conditions.

Weather conditions this afternoon must be rather immoderate (90° in the shade at last check) because a bunch of cows are currently loafing under a nearby cottonwood. For your viewing pleasure, I snapped these photos of a few of my shade tree cows!

Blossom using Bubbles as a pillow 
Dazzle, Pancho, Cupcake 

“For You have been a stronghold for the poor, a stronghold for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm, a shade from the heat….” –ISAIAH 25:4 (AMP)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Who Answers to Whom

Blueberry and Meels’ registration papers list me as their owner, but they can’t read. In fact, they and the kids are under the impression that I belong to them.

Because I fix their breakfast and supper and bring it to them, they think I’m their cook. Because I clean their stalls, cut down willow branches for their treat, and carry fresh buckets of water to the shade to keep cool, they think I’m their servant. Because I worm them, bathe them, give medicine to any who are sick, or assist with delivery, they think I’m their nurse. Because give them bedtime snacks (crackers or raisins) and tuck them into the barn at night so a fox or coyote doesn’t eat them, they think I’m their nanny. Because I listen to their complaints and try to accommodate their demands, they think I’m their concierge.

If only I could speak caprine, I’d tell them that I’m in charge of this outfit, not them!

“…God’s in charge, not you….” –ECCLESIASTES 5:2 (MSG)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Liberty for All

Now that Blueberry and Meels are back at the ranch, their kids have settled happily into their new routine. Their favorite time of the day is evening because that’s when the herd is let out of the big pen and allowed to wander about the barnyard to graze and see the sights. The kids like to explore new places, whiletheir mamas like to browse on fresh weeds, green grass in the lawn, and weeping golden willow branches.

Ever full of vim and vinegar—as much as all six of the others combined—little Jubilee  loves having even more playthings to jump on (a big tractor tire is one of her favorites) and more excuses to race and romp (the dog, horse, and cows might be watching). I must have been prophetic when I named her!

Jubilee takes a brief rest

“When the 50th year arrives, sanctify it and declare liberty throughout the land for all who live there—dramatic, radical liberty for all. It is to be your jubilee year.” –LEVITICUS 25:10 (VOICE)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Desert Beauties

Zach took these pictures of some beautiful horses in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, where parents take their children to the square to ride the horses or camels. Since many people believe that Yemen could be the very place where the ancient Desert Arabian breed originated, I feel quite honored to pass along these photos!

“He’s the One from east to west; from desert to mountains, he’s the One.” –PSALM 75:6 (MSG)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pasture Pets

After being gone for nearly three months, I was so glad that the cows hadn’t forgotten me. Annabelle, my very favorite, won’t have anything to do with strangers, but she came up to see me and nuzzle my hand shortly after my arrival. The next day, I needed the herd to come in through a gate I’d just opened. Princess, another favorite, came when I called her and led the others through the gate. I was so honored.

The calves have quadrupled in size. When they’re not eating, they’re napping. I notice that Glory, the youngest heifer, is still pretty feisty though. One early morning, I saw her chasing a cottontail in categorical Glory spirit: tail up, heels kicking, nose bobbing!

Even though I’m tired and sore from irrigating and weeding, I’m very thankful to be home with my cows!

“But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.” –2 CORINTHIANS 5:9 (MSG)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Terror of the Jungle

Less than five minutes after the dog, the goats, and I had disembarked from the truck and trailer after docking at the ranch, I heard a loud Mew, mew! My cat Smokey emerged from some overgrown grass, rubbed against Bodie’s legs, and came up to be cuddled.

“Aw, what a nice cat,” you’re probably saying to yourself right about now. Well, yes and no.

Hubby did a good job of watering my trees, grass, and flowers in my absence, but left untamed, they and the weeds have grown into a veritable jungle. Smokey (aka The Terrible Tiger) gleefully hides in the dense forest of weeds and sunflowers in order to stalk the herd of gazelles (aka baby goats) which I brought him. It’s all in fun, but sometimes his game of Terror-of-the-Jungle is unappreciated by grumpy mama gazelles!

The unsuspecting herd moves into the clearing 
The tiger lurks

The predator becomes the prey (seconds before getting boosted out of the "clearing" by Blueberry)

“Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” –ISAIAH 41:10 (AMP)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Parting Good Company

A separation from my husband was definitely not on my bucket list, but if it wasn’t for that event, I might never have had the honor of getting to know two of the kindest, most good-hearted people on the planet: Arnie and Betty (aka The Goat Angel) and their family. I am so very grateful to them for opening their barn and hearts to me, a stranger in need, and my little herd.

Regular readers know that my goats and horse, Sugar, have been living on Arnie and Betty’s ranch this summer. They may not know that today, I loaded up my goats, luggage, and various accumulations and headed home to my own ranch. Sugar is staying for a while so the grandkids can ride her.

Even though I was excited to go home, the good-byes were awfully difficult and many tears were shed!

“So open your hearts to one another as Christ has opened his heart to you, and God will be glorified.” –ROMANS 15:7 (PHILLIPS)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Half a World Away

As I mentioned previously, my anthropology-major son is studying in Yemen this summer. He loves the country, especially its warm and hospitable people, and despite the threats alluded to by the media, he’s in no big hurry to come back to the United States. In an attempt to alleviate my worries, he assured me that he’s probably more in danger of being hit by a car in the streets of Sana’a than anything else!

Rather than show photos of traffic-packed streets—and in keeping with this blog’s ranchy theme—I’ve included some of my son’s pictures of Yemeni livestock.

Please join me in praying for peace in Yemen!

“Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” –PSALM 5:12 (NIV)

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Guardian

Casper, a Great Pyrenees, showed up on Arnie and Betty’s ranch several years ago. The Great Pyrenees is a common livestock guardian breed in the West, particularly for protecting sheep. But no sheep live near the ranch, so Casper’s origins are a mystery. He was terrified of men with grey hair and cowboy hats who smoked cigarettes, so they figured he must have run away from someone like that.

Casper is a gentle soul who loves people, especially children. Casper operates under the assumption that prevention is the best method of protecting the ranch, so he spends much of the night barking to warn potential predators to stay away. His deep, loud WOOF, WOOF might discourage coyotes but, I’m told, can also deter sleep!

Addie and Casper holding Mo; Dane holding Minnie

“For you were going astray like [so many] sheep, but now you have come back to the Shepherd and Guardian (the Bishop) of your souls.” –1 PETER 2:25 (AMP)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Much Fun

I knew that in order to get goat’s milk for cheese and soap, Blueberry and Meels had to become mamas, but I never imagined how much fun their kids would be. Each of the five kids has its own unique, endearing personality. All have natural star power, but, by virtue of her audacity, agility, and comedic genius, Jubilee usually steals the show.

Anna, my son’s girlfriend, met Jubilee and company for the first time today, and, of course, she was completely smitten. Much fun was had by all!

“If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” ~Dr. Seuss

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Kid Kisses

Tonto isn't the only friendly kid, but he's the only one who likes to give kisses. Perhaps we should have named him Romeo!

Tonto and Addie

“Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.” –PSALM 85:10 (NKJV)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Physics Lesson

When youngsters begin horsemanship lessons, they yearn to ride but must first accomplish two gargantuan tasks: saddling and mounting. Heaving a heavy saddle onto a horse’s back seems impossible to them, as does getting boots into stirrups and keeping them there while hauling themselves aboard. Between pants and grunts, the phrase I can’t competes for most-frequently-heard honors with the words she’s so tall.

I refrain from pointing out that, at 14.3 hands, Sugar isn’t particularly tall, as horses go. Instead, I explain that getting a saddle up onto a horse—or getting up into the saddle—isn’t so much a matter of strength as it is of momentum. I demonstrate how to use the energy created by momentum to make Mission Impossible possible. 

It’s kind of like crossing a small creek: if you stand flat-footed and then jump, you’ll probably get your feet wet. But if you run up to the water and leap without pausing first, momentum will help propel you to the other side. In the same way, swinging a saddle upwards is easier than hoisting it, and step-hopping up onto a horse requires less effort than rock-climbing up there!

Made it!

“We forget that IMPOSSIBLE is one of God's favorite words.” –Max Lucado