Monday, September 30, 2013


Hubby prefers to move cattle the conventional way, on horseback and with a dog, driving and turning the cows via pressure from behind or beside. But since our pastures are nearby, we don’t have to trail our cows far, and I like to call the cows. Although I’m disqualified from the ranks of “cowgirls”, I love that my cows recognize my voice and trust me enough to follow.

A few days ago, we woke up to dense fog (see photo). The herd needed to be moved a ways down the canal road. I was far enough ahead that they couldn’t see me in the fog, but when I called, they filed out the gate onto the road.

Said road was a slimy, miry mess from rain and snow, so my progress was slow. Daisy Mae, Blossom, and Penelope soon caught up. As we squelched through the mud to the tune of a meadowlark duet, I felt such joy to be sharing that moment with my big, beautiful friends. When we got there, Annabelle nuzzled my ear. Princess and Sparkle licked my hand. 

I think some folks see the Lord as a cowboy, pushing and prodding, roping and dragging, hollering when we hang back, chasing us down when we stray. But I think He’s more like me. I think He’d rather walk with us—despite the muck and mess—and lead us with love to a better place.

“No longer do I call you slaves…but I have called you friends….” –JOHN 15:15 (NASB)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

An Early Thanksgiving!

A strange pickup drove up to where we were working this afternoon. Two young men we didn’t know rolled down their windows.

“We saw a cow in the canal, and the neighbors said it might be yours!” they said, adding that she appeared to be sinking. Hubby sprinted for rope and tractor, I grabbed some chains and jumped in the Ranger, and the men followed in their truck.

I was so scared that all I could pray was Jesus! And Please don’t let it be Annabelle (my favorite). We spread out and scanned the canal—without success. It was impossible not to think the worst.

“Maybe she made it down to that sandbar and got out,” Hubby told me. “Drive over to the cows and count them.”

Well, I got decent grades in math, but I was so nervous that counting wandering cows was almost impossible, but I finally came to the conclusion that no one was missing. When Hubby arrived, he noticed that Annabelle was nursing her calf and repeatedly shaking her ears. Upon closer inspection, he determined that she was not only cleaner than the others, but that her ears were still wet!

“Thank You, God!” I exulted, grinning heavenwards, not even caring what the two strangers thought. (It turned out that the two Good Cow Samaritans were indeed Christians; one of them is even a pastor.) Five hours later, I'm still grinning!

A very hungry Annabelle (center). Note her ear.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.–PSALM 28:7 (NASB)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dome Needed

Last night’s rain turned to an early morning snow-rain mix, but many of the flowers managed to survive—for now. The skies are clearing, however, and temperatures are expected to dip to 27° tonight. Since I’m only in the first stage of grief—denial—the roses are tucked under a motley assortment of irrigation dam and weed matting “tents”. If it does snow again, the yard will look like Valley Forge!

Rudbeckia braving the cold

19 rose bushes under wraps

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” –PSALM 36:7 (NASB)

Thursday, September 26, 2013


It’s just a hole. One of six, on a bare knoll where the little calves used to sun themselves in the early spring. Doesn’t appear even remotely noteworthy. Doesn’t look like a kernel of faith sown into dirt or a snatch of hope filtering through adjoining cottonwoods or the advent of a dream bored by an auger three-and-a-half feet deep and later cleaned out with a shovel.

It is. But as I write, the skies over the Big Horn Basin—the same ones that have been so stingy with rain for over a year—have changed their mind and decided that it would be great fun to fill the hole with rainwater.  For now, the hole is on hold!

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin….” -ZECHARIAH 4:10 (NLT)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


We’re only three days into fall, but the weatherman mentioned snow in tomorrow’s forecast. Only a few days ago, I was sweating in tank top and shorts; today, I found myself bundling up in winter-worthy layers to go irrigating in the wind, cold, and rain.

The cottonwoods and shrubs don’t look very fall-ish yet, although their formerly vibrant emerald leaves are beginning to look dull and tired. Perhaps the chloroplasts are simply bushed?

Blueberry crunching on windblown branches

“A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.” –PROVERBS 17:22 (MSG)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nature's Deadline

My flowers had a narrow escape this morning when the temperature dipped to 32°. Frost adhered itself to the windshields but, thankfully, not the flowers. The bees, honey- and bumble- and wild, must know that the time for pollen gathering is running out. The flower beds are teeming with the little winged workers today. There are so many bees out there that many blossoms have two to three bees on each one.

We humans have also been hard at work trying to complete our list of jobs and projects before the days get cold, short, and snowy. The onset of wintertime is a great motivator for people and bees alike!

Bees in the blanketflowers

“My times are in Your hand….” –PSALM 31:15 (NASB)

Monday, September 23, 2013


Regular readers know that our cat Smokey, aka the Terrible Tiger, is prone to severe cabin fever in the winter months. He prowls and yowls, bangs cupboard doors, tries to scale walls to get spiders, and attacks any limbs sticking out from under the blankets. I have long theorized the solution is another wild and crazy Terrible Tiger to play with.

Enter Mercy, a tiny, mischievous, ultra-playful Siamese-cross kitten. Smokey has yet to buy into my premise that she’s good for him (perhaps he sees her as a threat to his spoiledness), but I’m sure he’ll come around to my way of thinking! After all, we all need mercy!


“…God…delights in mercy and loving-kindness.” –MICAH 7:18b (AMP)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hay There

As of this evening, third cutting is finally “put up” (baled and stacked). Because it went through a few rain-and-sunshine cycles, it’s not as green and sweet-smelling as usual. Some of the smaller leaves just disintegrated into a dark green powder that coated everything and everyone. As I write, my eyes are so full of the stuff that it almost hurts to blink!

The hayer

Some of the hayees (languishing while we work!)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Haying Mercy

The cool, wet weather system has mercifully given way to a few days of warmer sunshine, so we hayers have been back in the fields, trying to dry (by raking or inverting the windrows) the hay and get it baled and stacked before the next storm system presents itself. It’s hard to imagine any livelihood more at the mercy of the weather than farming and ranching!

Today I learned how to stack bales on the trailer--fun but tricky.
Air conditioning in our 1981 2940 John Deere: open windows and shorts! 

“…Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rains he sends are tokens of forgiveness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as those of spring. --Joel 2:23 (TLB) 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

From the Bog

By this time last September, the third cutting of hay was already baled and stacked. We were bustling about, irrigating the parched ground in order to get as much regrowth as possible before hard freezes set in.

But this September, the soggy, squelchy brown hay still lies in the windrows, waiting for wind and sunshine. (Hay has to be baled at a certain level of dryness or else it will mold.) Every time we think it’s almost dry, another rain comes.

Since precipitation has been nearly unheard of the past few years, every shower, every downpour is something of a surprise. Even though the moisture has severely reduced the value of the hay, we’re not complaining—well, not much, anyway—because it’s such a blessing to thirsty trees, pastures, and fields.

But if the weather stays like this, we’ll have to change crops—perhaps cranberries, rice, or sponges!

Terrible haying weather but awesome tree-planting weather!

“…You’ll do best by…meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” –PHILIPPIANS 4:8 (MSG)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Five Things

At chore time, five exuberant goat kids are at large, clambering upon toolboxes, mowers, and tables in the shop; knocking over tools, boxes, and garbage cans; racing each other hither and yon. They put me in mind of The Cat in the Hat’s Thing One and Thing Two--only in this case, there are five Things wreaking havoc!

“Why do you let them loose then?” I can hear someone ask.

“Because it’s so fun to watch them having so much fun!” I reply.

Thing Five (Moey) "helping" with chores

“But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy.” –PSALM 68:3 (NRSV)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Rising Star

So far, two-year old Flame is the top contender for 2013 Cow of the Year. It was nice that Flame had her calf, Liza, without assistance in the pasture. She’s done a great job of raising Liza too. But the extraordinary thing about Flame is that she has mercifully adopted a steer calf, Cisco. Cisco’s mama, Clarabelle, is pretty much a flop when it comes to mothering, but Flame has graciously taken up the slack. A heifer usually doesn’t have enough milk for two calves, but Flame is kindly nursing them both and is none the worse for wear.

Flame's heifer, Liza, playing in the straw


“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” –HEBREWS 4:16 (NIV)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Policy Amendments

For a while, the goats were allowed the run of the place for about half an hour every evening before getting tucked into the barn. Nomadic browsers at heart, they’d take a bite of this, a nibble of that. They had fun, and it was fun to watch the little kids excitedly exploring the great big world. But when they decided that, of all the plant species on the entire ranch, my roses and geraniums were the most delicious, management immediately reevaluated and amended the free range goat policy!

What's left of my white geranium


“But you will enjoy a blessed life,
    planting well-watered fields and gardens,
    with your farm animals grazing freely.”
–ISAIAH 32:20 (MSG)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Whisker Away

By day, Smokey Mew couldn’t be sweeter: purring, cuddling, and napping on the bed in domestic bliss. As afternoon wanes into evening, he yawns, stretches, and perches atop the couch in order to survey the front yard and, beyond that, his sagebrush-greasewood-cottonwood-aspen-Russian olive jungle. He appears quiet and groggy, but a change of identity is taking place inside that tabby-striped head. 

Just before sundown, the Terrible Tiger saunters out the front door and disappears into the jungle.  There he’ll prowl, stalking birds and pouncing on rodents all night long—unless he gets cold or hungry, in which case he’ll meow at the window until someone lets him indoors for a snack and a snuggle.

After a few hours, he generally tires of such cozy comforts and begins a campaign to be put outdoors once again. If a few loud multi-syllable meows don’t wake anyone up, a bite on the arm usually does the trick!

It would seem like a cat door would solve the problem (no humans would have to drag themselves out of bed to play doorman), except that cats like to show off their trophies—dead or alive—and bring them to their people to be admired. A cat door would transform our living room into The Jungle Book!

“Prowling his own quiet backyard or asleep by the fire, he is still only a whisker away from the wilds.” - Jean Burden

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Harbinger

Three years ago, ten baby cottonwoods hatched in my cross flowerbed. On a muddy, snowy autumn day, Hubby and I dug up the little saplings (average size, 10 inches) and transplanted them to the backside of an alfalfa field where they would benefit from irrigation water and, in turn, provide shelter to livestock and wildlife.

This is one of those transplants. One of the leaders is about 8 feet tall, which is not particularly impressive.

But, upon closer inspection, we see evidence that the tree is already fulfilling one of its primary purposes! 

A bird's nest, the first of many to come

“For everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power, and everything is for his glory.” –ROMANS 11:36 (TLB)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mightier Yet

Mo the Mighty (“Moey” for short) is blossoming! In addition to a fuller hair coat, brighter eyes, a rounder tummy, and a saucy new attitude, her voice has changed from a soft little bleat to a strident trill.

“Moey, you sure are mighty loud!” I told her the other day.

Suppertime (oats, Calf Manna, raisins)

Snacking on Russian olives

“Instead you thrill to God’s Word….You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.” –PSALM 1:2-3 (MSG)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Great Things

Regular readers of this blog may recall Trooper, a black-baldy calf whose birth and first few days were both difficult and dangerous. After a perilous breech delivery and subsequent concussion, Trooper had to battle fluid in his lungs and pneumonia. Due to contracted tendons in all four legs, he couldn’t stand without crashing to the ground. Because of trauma, he had no sucking reflex and had to be fed via stomach tube.

Here’s a picture of a very sick Trooper at about 15 hours old.

Thanks to much prayer, Trooper not only survived but soon began to thrive. Just over five months and over 500 pounds later, Trooper must be one of the most gorgeous miracles I’ve ever been honored to witness!

“….When a believing person prays, great things happen.” –JAMES 5:16 (NCV)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Favored One

The thermometer read 90° this afternoon when we took salt to the cows. Since it was so hot, I had thought that they would be shaded up. Instead, many were lined up on the “beach”, an inside curve of the canal where sediment has accumulated and is covered with just a few inches of water.

Annabelle, my favorite cow, can be seen munching hay in the right foreground. Hubby says that I’m her favorite too. She lets him scratch her, but she only bestows her slobbery kisses upon me!

“The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you.” –NUMBERS 6:25 (AMP)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Understanding my goats’ culinary preferences is crucial. Goats won't be herded but will follow--if they want to. Hence, I’ve become something of an expert at cooperation-by-inducement, also known as bribery.

In case any readers plan to become goat nannies or dream of making a fortune in the goat-biscuit business, I’m graciously passing along this vital information:

  • I’m not sure what’s in Calf Manna that goats are so crazy about—anise, yeast, or something else—but a little bit sprinkled into a regular ration increases the likelihood that it will be consumed on a timely basis. (Goats are notorious food wasters because they refuse leftovers over a few hours old.)

·         Three words describe a goat’s fondest food wishes: dry, crunchy, salty. The dried leaves of cottonwoods and Russian olives are great; pretzels, soda crackers, stale (but not moldy) bread, and dry cereal are even better. Potato and corn chips probably aren’t the best choice of treats, but it helps to know that goats will follow you almost anywhere if you rattle a chip bag and let them taste the crumbs at the bottom of the bag.

·         Herbal snacks that are healthier in nature are the just-snipped, faded blooms of organic geraniums, roses, and calendulas. Goats left to run at large will devour them right out of the flower pot or bed, so protection of your flowering assets is a must!


“O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” –

Monday, September 2, 2013

Wyoming Ranch Tour

I snapped these photos this morning as I drove from Laramie, where I was visiting my son who attends the University of Wyoming, to Casper and on home.

This beaverslide haystack, one of many seen on a ranch near Medicine Bow, is perhaps a throwback to the days when the Virginian* (my first love) ranched in the area.

A Hereford heifer grazing with some Charolais and Charolais-cross calves near Shirley Basin.

Further up the road, this beautiful Red Angus pair posed atop a hill covered with sagebrush and rubber rabbitbrush.

*A reference to The Virginian by Owen Wister