Tuesday, April 30, 2013


This isn’t a foodie blog, but I couldn’t resist posting a photo of the first ranch-grown asparagus of spring. Sure, some of the spears are rather stubby, but it was snowing during this morning’s harvest, so I felt compelled to rescue everything over an inch tall.

Dan Weber, a friend whose family has farmed in the area for generations, tells us that the German immigrants who first settled here brought their treasured asparagus plants from the mother country. Feral descendants of their hardy Spargel now populate ditchbanks and fencelines all over the Basin, providing great sport for asparagus-hunters of all nationalities—and tonight, a delicious asparagus omelette for our table. 

“And let fall some handfuls for her on purpose and let them lie there for her to glean….” –RUTH 2:16 (AMP)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Awards Week, Pt. 1

It’s finally here: the totally unanticipated, first annual New Moo Awards, honoring the most exceptional cows and calves of the Bar D Triangle for the 2013 calving season! (Stay tuned all week for all winners to be announced.)

The winner of the less-than distinguished Much Ado About Nothing Award is Clarabelle! Ever since her first calf, Cisco, was born, her anxiety has been through the roof. An unexpected move on our part rings an alarm in her already cortisone-flooded brain—we’ve never hurt her or her calf, and neither did the folks who raised her, so who knows what she is afraid of—and any sighting of Bodie, our ranch dog, appears to arouse wild imaginings of wolf packs attacking her calf.

In stark contrast is Panda, the winner of the Que SerĂ¡, SerĂ¡ (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) Award! To say that Panda is easy-going is an understatement. She’s always taken good care of her calf, Pancho, but has never wasted a single second or ounce of energy worrying about him—or anything else for that matter. It seems that nothing can ruffle Panda’s feathers!


“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?”   –LUKE 12:25-26

Saturday, April 27, 2013

An Upgrade

Ask a cattleman why he likes his job, and he might say that he takes pride in providing our population with a quality, appetizing protein source, or in stewarding and improving the land and animals with which God has entrusted him. He might mention preferring to work under a sprawling sky rather than a roof, even though some years may yield more heartache than profits.

Even better than that: every calving season, we get to help make the world a cuter place!

Wings eating breakfast like the big cows. It took her quite some time to eat that big mouthful!

“And let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands.” –PSALM 90:17 (AMP)

Friday, April 26, 2013


On any list of the earth’s most intelligent animals, cattle are conspicuously absent. I doubt that much time and money has been invested in the study of bovine intellectual capacity. Perhaps Americans just don’t want to know how much acumen their lunch formerly possessed before it was a cheeseburger.

Humans position their own species at the top of the list, but since we’re the ones making the list, it’s fair to assume some bias on our part.  We ranchers, for instance, conveniently forget how many times we’ve been conned by our dogs, manipulated by our cats, outwitted by our horses, bested by our goats, and outmaneuvered by our cows. And, despite our supposedly superior IQs, we’re the ones toiling to raise or purchase their provisions, not to mention laboring and investing to keep them clean, safe, happy, and healthy.

If there was a 12-step program called Codependents Anonymous, ranchers like me would overpopulate the meetings….

“My name is Robin, and I’m a codependent. I’m not happy unless my animals are happy—and they know it. My dog has me well-trained, my cat has me wrapped around his little claw, and I’m a slave to my cows.”

Who, I ask you, is smarter than whom?

The morning after the orchard fence was fixed, Izzy and Liza found an alternative route inside.

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and…the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”–1 CORINTHIANS 1:27 (KJ21) 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


According to the American Dairy Goat Association’s gestation calendar, Meels is due to kid next Tuesday, April 30. I’ve been told that goats follow gestation calendar due dates much more devoutly than do cows, so my heart rate is still normal—at present, that is. But if I read much about kidding and the various worst-case scenarios, it’s a different story. Fortunately, Hubby has a lot of experience with lambing, which is essentially the same process, and Vanessa, my goat mentor, has said I can call her anytime. I suppose I should ask for clarification as to whether or not “anytime” includes 2 am! 

As noted earlier in the year, I'm a goat greenhorn so am climbing a steep learning curve in regards to this business of goat reproduction. Please pray for perfect timing, safe passage, and easy nursing for Meels' little one(s)!

“For he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.”             –PSALM 95:7 (NLT)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dressed in Red

Although the day started out at a measly 6°, the bright sunshine is now making muddy puddles and mini-rivers out of the snow. We spent some time tending to trees today: pruning juvenile apple trees in the orchard, trimming odd branches from some bigger landscape trees, taking some cuttings from a golden willow, and wrapping the three young aspens that were vandalized by two pesky young mule deer neighbors.

I don’t know if our very unscientific tree bandages—made from old socks, Vetrap, and duct tape—will provide adequate protection from insects, disease, and desiccation, but they make us feel better!

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” –PSALM 147:3

Monday, April 22, 2013

May Lizards, Part 2

Lest any tenderhearted readers worry about the bigger calves after reading today’s earlier post, I’m here to set their minds at rest. The snow and wind have stopped, and the young ‘uns are gratefully snuggled into their bed of fresh, dry straw. They’ll probably sleep far better than we will tonight, as the snow has kept the Terrible Tiger indoors. There’s a negative correlation between the cat’s level of cabin fever and our own slumber!

“Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up.” –PROVERBS 12:25

May Lizards?

Spring is not for the faint of heart, especially if one is a flora or fauna! No sooner does the alfalfa leaves start popping out everywhere than the mercury plunges to 16° or the snow piles up again. Some of the cool season grasses like garrison, brome, or crab grass are growing, but sometimes the cold turns their tips a purplish tinge. Yesterday, the cattle were seeking shade by afternoon; today, they’ll be thrilled if the sun comes out.

The robins and meadowlarks are still singing, their high spirits apparently not dampened by the heavy, wet snow. I read that meadowlarks weave grasses together to make a roof over their nest to keep out the elements. If they can design and construct an awning as well as they can carry a tune, then I’m quite certain that it will be snow-proof!

If "April showers bring May flowers", what do April blizzards bring? 

“The birds nest beside the streams
    and sing among the branches of the trees.
You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home,
    and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor.
You cause grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for people to use.
You allow them to produce food from the earth.”
–PSALM 104:12-14 (NLT)

Friday, April 19, 2013

East and West

Besides having tendon problems, Petey’s legs are far from straight. “His feet point hither and yon,” I remarked to Hubby yesterday.

“Well, they’re supposed to go north and south,” he replied, “but Petey’s go east and west.” Regardless of direction, Petey’s legs still manage to propel him at a pretty good clip!

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”        –PSALM 103:12 (NLT)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Point

Yesterday was still snowy, windy, and cold, so Winky’s new calf (see Wattage and Last but not Least) stayed in the barn yet another day. Happily, today is almost warm—46° at the moment—so after much bucking and running lickety-split around the corral, Petey is out soaking up some sunshine.

I named our sweet, fun-loving Petey after my grandpa, Pete, a kind man who always had a sparkle in his eye and a joke or funny story at the ready. Pete was unavailable for comment about his new namesake because they don’t have cell service in heaven; however, he was an animal-lover, so I doubt that he’s offended. Anyway, Petey is my reminder of the maxim that Pete quoted to me on more than one occasion: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

“Even if someone lived a thousand years—make it two thousand!—but didn’t enjoy anything, what’s the point?” –ECCLESIASTES 6:6 (MSG)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Our newest calf (name pending) is doing well, although his legs buckle when he's tired. He’s still in the barn because it’s been snowing lightly most of the day, but I’m sure he’ll be excited when he gets to meet his siblings out in the corral. Today, he tried to get his mama, Winky, to play with him, but she wouldn’t. Winky used to be one of the most playful heifers, but now she’s too overwhelmed by the cares and responsibilities of cowhood to play with her calf.

Hmm. Light bulb moment: I also have become too overwhelmed by cares and responsibilities to allow myself to have much, if any, fun. I shall look for a name for this dear one that reminds me--and Winky--to lighten up!

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” –JOHN 10:10 (AMP)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Last but Not Least

The last calf of the season is finally on terra firma! Winky’s calf may be the last but certainly isn’t the least—he weighs nearly 83 pounds, which is quite a bit for a heifer to handle. When Hubby first checked the calf, he found the hugest feet ever! So we got out the hot, soapy water and the calf puller and assisted Mother Nature. Fortunately, the little bull’s feet are just disproportionately large. His head and shoulders weren’t near the issue that we thought they were going to be when we first saw those giant hooves.

 Due to the calf’s long legs and position in the uterus, the tendons on his forelegs are contracted. I splinted them, though, so he can nurse and even hop about at will.

His main problem is getting any sleep. Winky’s got HFTMS (Hypervigilant, First-time Mama Syndrome) and is operating under the assumption that if her calf goes to sleep, he might never wake up again! While I was administering room service this afternoon, cleaning and re-bedding the barn, I watched her moo uneasily and vigorously lick him every time his poor little head drooped to the ground. I told her that both of them just needed to nap. I don’t know if I’m a cow whisperer or Winky just gave in to exhaustion, but she soon lay down beside him!

“For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” –LUKE 9:48b (NIV)

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I was in a big hurry Saturday morning, so instead of sitting down to eat my orange and eggs, I ate at the kitchen sink, looking out the window and watching the cows finishing their own breakfast. Most of the calves had lay down for their morning naps, but one was restless, lying down, getting up again, and wringing her tail. When she started lying down, rolling, and kicking at her stomach, Hubby hurried out to take a better look.

“It’s Anabelle’s calf, and she’s got enterotoxemia!” he hollered, grabbing his coat. “I’m going to the vet to get anti-toxin. Don’t let her lie down and keep her walking.”

I don’t know much about enterotoxemia except that it is frequently called overeating disease, seems to affect the calves whose mamas give the most milk, involves a strain of Clostridium, and is often fatal. As I hurried out to the pasture, I could see that our beautiful Isabelle’s abdomen was distended, and she seemed to be in great distress.

My cell phone rang. I answered, thinking it was Hubby, but it was Marilyn, a friend from church, calling to remind me of an upcoming brunch.

“Thanks, but I’ve got a really sick calf,” I said, my voice shaking.

“Okay, we’re going to agree in prayer. In Jesus’ name, this calf will live and not die and go on to have many calves in her lifetime!” Marilyn exclaimed loudly. “Now you tell her that!” There was a pause. “Well, if it’s a female, that is,” she added, with some trepidation.

“Oh, it is! Isabelle’s our best heifer calf out of our best cow,” I assured her.

We hung up. As I kept getting Izzy back up on her feet, I repeatedly told her (and her concerned mother) that she would live and not die. But the bloating and pain grew steadily worse. Finally I could not even get her back on her feet.

I was tempted to panic, but earlier that morning, I’d read these words of Jesus: “If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” (Matthew 18:19) I will not fear, I told myself. If I were to give in to fear, it would be because I don’t believe God’s promises. That would be like saying that Jesus is a liar!

So instead of getting on the phone to tell Hubby to hurry before it was too late, I sang some praise songs. Sit her up, I heard. I managed to push Izzy so she was somewhat upright. Almost instantly, she seemed to relax. Just let her rest.

I did. Two or three minutes later, Izzy stood up, looked around her, and wandered over to inspect a rock. There was no bloating, no tail-switching, no kicking—a complete recovery!

When Hubby soon arrived on the scene, he was both incredulous and exultant. “You should blog about this,” he said. “It’s a real miracle!”

“Do you think anybody will believe me?” I replied.

Isabelle, right, using Glory as a pillow. Their coats are glistening wet from one of several spring squalls we've had today.

Friday, April 12, 2013


We’re still waiting on Winky to calve, so Glory is still glorying in being the youngest and cutest. She’s petite and refined, but there’s nothing demure about that little lady. She likes to play bull-fight with Cisco and kick at the big cows as she races past them.

The snow and mud from the last storm had not yet begun to disappear, and then it rained for nearly an hour this morning.  But Glory’s confidence and bravado were not dampened a bit!

“So that we who first hoped in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him have been destined and appointed to] live for the praise of His glory!”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


As soon as the snowstorm abated yesterday, we let the youngest calves and their mamas out of the barn. I apologize for the blurriness of these shots, but they do manage to convey the high spirits of the occasion.

Cisco after plowing into a snowdrift.

Here comes Glory!

 A stampede!

“But I have trusted, leaned on, and been confident in Your mercy and loving-kindness; my heart shall rejoice and be in high spirits in Your salvation.” –PSALM 13:5

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Goodness in White

Nearly every state west of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River has been affected by drought, much of it severe, and nearly every farmer and rancher have been praying for moisture. Most of us probably had rain in mind, but we got a snowstorm instead! (Perhaps we should have been more specific in our requests.) Last week, we were working in our shirtsleeves; this week, we’ve got the long johns, snow boots, and coveralls back on.

We don’t mind the blizzard because we know that every snowdrift will result in flourishing grass, fields, and trees. The cows, bedded in straw and snow out of the wind, don’t seem bothered either. But I’ve heard some complaints from the calves, whose short lives have thus far been far cozier. (The two youngest, Cisco and Glory, are snug and happy in the barn with their mamas.) For the sake of all the young calves and lambs in the area, I’m now praying for some sunshine!

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” –PSALM 84:11 

Monday, April 8, 2013


Moments after Sparkle’s tiny heifer slipped into our world last week, my first words were, “Glory be!” It’s not an expression that I use often, if ever, so I sort of surprised myself.

In the ensuing days, we’ve considered a number of clever names for this little cutie, but none of them seemed right. I wanted to call her Glory, but kept talking myself out of it. After all, “glory” refers to extreme admiration, awesome splendor, wondrous majesty, astounding beauty, and heavenly bliss—descriptions seldom applied to cows. But during yesterday’s morning chores, I decided that my world could stand a good deal more splendor, beauty, and bliss, so Glory it is!

“In a great chorus they sang, 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty! The whole earth is filled with His glory!'" –ISAIAH 6:3 (NLT)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Breakfast at Clarabelle's

Clarabelle had been eating much better but still not giving enough milk, so I texted some folks Friday and asked them to pray.

I was confident that our prayers would be answered because one of the names of God is El Shaddai, which is usually translated as “God Almighty” or sometimes as “the God of more-than-enough.” Actually, the root word of shaddai in Hebrew actually means “the breasty one”.

In his Synonyms of the Old Testament, R.B. Girdlestone says, “The title ‘Shaddai’ really indicated the fullness and riches of God’s grace, and would remind the Hebrew reader that from God cometh every good and perfect gift.”

God was gracious, and Clarabelle’s bag was full of dairy riches Saturday morning! Even after Cisco had filled his tummy, she still had milk left over!

“Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God.” –EPHESIANS 3:19 (NCV)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Gift

Readers that follow this blog know that Sparkle, the heifer that calved last night, is often referred to as our therapy cow. Sparkle isn’t the gentlest of the heifers, but when she approaches us and nuzzles our hands, for some reason we always feel, well, lifted up. I can’t explain why—her nose is always slimy, after all—but we just do.

I know two people that are like that. Just being in their presence for a few moments somehow makes me feel, well, lifted up. It’s not so much what they do or say, it’s just a gift they have.

Anyway, it seems that Sparkle’s gift works on her fellow cows as well. Clarabelle, who had Cisco several days ago, had been too nervous to eat or drink much; consequently, she didn’t make enough milk. But when I put Sparkle and her (still unnamed) calf out in the pen next to Clarabelle today, the latter settled down and started to eat and drink much more. The milk machine has kicked into a higher gear.

The gift may be heritable. The very first time I approached Sparkle’s little heifer, she took a few steps toward me. I bent down, and she nuzzled my nose with hers!

“Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.”                             –1 CORINTHIANS 7:7b (NLT)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Watusi

I knew that Sparkle’s delivery was  imminent when I found her in the corner of the corral this evening, holding her tail straight out behind her and waggling her hindquarters back and forth.

“What’s she doing? Have you ever seen a cow do that before?” I asked Hubby, who has witnessed hundreds, if not thousands, of bovine nativities.

“Never,” he replied. “She’s doing the Watusi.”

Well, we opened up a gate and the barn door. Sparkle marched right in without any prompting on our part—just checked herself into the maternity ward! Then she came up to each of us to nose our hands. She tends to do that, but cows don’t usually want people anywhere around them when they calve, so it was as remarkable as the Watusi that she kept dancing.

There was no water bag or slime showing, so we thought we were in for a lengthy process. But when we went back to the barn to check on her, she was mooing to her newborn calf, who was already up and starting to nurse!

The heifer is tiny but healthy and extremely agile. Because she came so fast and is so little, I’m thinking about calling her Lightning Bug. At any rate, Hubby says that Sparkle’s hospital bill should be half-price, since she delivered before the doctor even showed up.

I wonder if the Lamaze folks know about the Watusi.

“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance….”                     –ECCLESIASTES 3:4

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


There’s nothing like a stillborn calf (see yesterday’s post) to engender great relief and gratitude for the safe delivery of Clarabelle’s baby bull last night. The handsome, strong, curly-coated calf, named Cisco, is full of vim and vigor and has an extremely hearty appetite!

Of all the black baldy heifers we bought last year, Clarabelle was the only one who seemed to take after the Angus side of her family. The other twelve had the wonderfully gentle Hereford disposition, but Clarabelle seemed to be inherently suspicious, spooky, and easily riled. She’s gradually come to trust us, but I always wondered if she’d revert to her Angus-ness when she became a mama. (Black Angus mamas are prone to over-protectivity following parturition, which can make for some hair-raising moments for their caregivers!)

Thankfully, my concerns were unfounded. Clarabelle is a devoted mama but still a model citizen, so I didn’t need to update my will before treating Cisco’s umbilical cord or taking this photo!.

“Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” –JOSHUA 1:9 (AMP)

Monday, April 1, 2013


Early yesterday evening, our sweet Petunia delivered a stillborn calf nearly three weeks early. The sight of that beautiful, lifeless heifer was tough, but her mama’s distress was heartrending. The pain of it caused my knees to buckle, and I just sank to the ground and sobbed.

When we brought Petunia up from the pasture and put her with her old friends, Princess and Daisy Mae, she began to calm down. I felt a little better when Hubby announced that Petunia would not be rebred and is now officially retired. Hubby, like the vast majority of ranchers, has never “retired” a cow that was no longer reproductively sound. He’s sold them at auction. Feeding an unproductive cow indefinitely is the worst kind of business decision, but Petunia isn’t just a cow. She’s more like family.

“For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion upon His afflicted.” –ISAIAH 49:13b (AMP)