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


 “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


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

“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


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


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


 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


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


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


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


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)