Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Assistants

Cleaning the barn isn’t the onerous chore that people might think. It offers me exercise, a sense of accomplishment, and the satisfaction of making life for the animals healthier and more pleasant. And if I allow the heffies to “help”, it’s even fun!

Izzy and Glory offer their assistance
They only knocked the wheelbarrow over once

“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)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


A dozen years ago when the puppies were born, Jenny couldn’t have known what was ahead: tumult, a daughter's illness, fear, and anger that would ultimately rip apart her marriage, her family, her world. But the God who loves Jenny knew her future, so He arranged for Rilee to be one of eight little golden retrievers born under Jenny’s porch. Throughout the dark days and years to come, Rilee would always be there for Jenny, a cheerful, affectionate, beautiful ray of sunshine.

As time passed, the God who loves Jenny gave her many more wonderful gifts—a new family, her daughters back, a granddaughter, a painting career—but Rilee and Jenny remained devoted to one another. When age and infirmity caught up with Rilee, Jenny was there for her: medicating her pain, taking her on the car rides she adored, spoiling her with extra treats. Rilee is gone now (and will the tears ever stop?) but the God who still loves Jenny is still there.

Rilee, as painted by Jenny

Stocks in tennis ball companies plummeted with Rilee's passing

"He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces….” –ISAIAH 25:8 (NKJV)

“God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there.” –Billy Graham

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Falling

Yesterday’s Indian summer sun had cows lounging in the shade, windows thrown open, and arms bared to catch any breeze. Today’s snow and wind has goats bundled up in the barn, heffies bedded in fresh straw, wool blankets at the ready, and thermostat adjusted upwards!



“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event.  You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?”  ~J.B. Priestley

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Comfort Foods

The clamor from the corrals and pasture has subsided somewhat, but the noises are decidedly weird! The heffies have nearly lost their voices from calling their mamas. When they open their mouths to bawl, only piglet-like squeaks and squeals come forth. Poor Liza sounds just like a bull elk in rut. Hope she doesn't call in any elk or hunters!

Annabelle decided that the best way to alleviate the emotional and physical strain of weaning Izzy was to crawl under the fence and visit her favorite eating spot, the back yard. Bluegrass, fescue, and clover must be comfort foods for cows because Annabelle seemed decidedly at ease, so much so that I let her stay there for an hour.

Annabelle's comfort

“Comfort, comfort My people, says your God.” –ISAIAH 40:1

Friday, October 25, 2013

Milk Madness

Precious little sleep was had last night by animals or people, due to the din of weaning cows and calves (see yesterday’s post, Empty Pasture Syndrome). The heffies are now more than ready to trade their grown-up hay-feeder privileges for a big swig of mama’s milk. We’ve been cheated! Duped! Robbed! they caterwaul, over and over again. Fueled in part by their filled-to-capacity udders, the mamas’ sad bawls have increased in volume and intensity to angry, unrelenting bellows.

If our cows manage to get quiet for a few seconds, I can hear the distant roar of bawling cattle yonder over the river—more sufferers of insufferable separation, no doubt.

It’s not Mad Cow Disease, but the bovines in this neighborhood sure are mad.

Sparkle, in non-violent but very loud protest

“…Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –ROMANS 8:38-39 (NIV)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Empty Pasture Syndrome

My ears are ringing—no, wait—that sound is real. It’s weaning day, the saddest--and loudest--day of the ranching year. The mama cows are bawling, over and over, so much that some are hoarse.

The steer calves are gone, but the replacement heifers (hereafter referred to as heffies) are in the corral. While cleaning the barn, I noticed that the mamas seemed to be far more distraught than the heffies. I thought about all the people-mamas (yours truly included) suffering from empty nest syndrome while their kids are out having the time of their lives on some life adventure or the other!

The heffies weren't too upset to eat!

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness….  –ISAIAH 61:3 (AKJV)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Goat Good-byes

Early this morning, I scooped up Jack and Tonto, packed them into the stock trailer, and cried as Hubby drove them away. I wasn’t crying for myself—I knew they were headed back to Arnie, Betty, Kolton, and Hunter (see most of this past summer’s posts)—but because of their heartrending calls to their mamas and sisters who were answering from the barn.

It’s been quieter here than I expected. Since Minnie and Moey were triplets, they still have each other. But Jubilee seems to be at loose ends, and when she bleats, it's as if she’s asking, Where’s Jack? As for Blueberry and Meels, they’re just looking and wondering.

Thursday is calf weaning day, so there’s much more noise and drama to come!

At least Jubilee hasn't lost her appetite for Russian olives

“…God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” –HEBREWS 13:5 (NIV)

Monday, October 21, 2013


I don’t remember the name of this shrub rose, but I call it Jessie’s rose because it’s planted on the grave of one of the sweetest blue heelers ever. It’s flowers aren’t big or striking, but it blooms nonstop. Even now, after two snows and countless frosts, it is still squeaking out some cute scarlet blossoms!

“…To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” –REVELATION 2:7 (NASB)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Morning Glories

I admit it. Some mornings I look outside and ungratefully think, “Ugh. More frost. Before we know it, everything will look dead and brown.” But now and then, my eyes open to the extravagant gift that awaits me just outside the house: a zillion-to-the-zillionth-power stunning crystals sparkling in early light!
Crystal-encased roses
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to find the place where all the beauty came from.” ~C.S. Lewis

“By the breath of God ice is given….” –JOB 37:10 (AMP)


Thursday, October 17, 2013

On the Hill

Yesterday was the first day in a week that I felt well enough to go for a walk. I don’t know who was more thankful, me or the dog, to be crunching through leaves on a brisk sunny morning.

Instead of leaf pictures, though, I took one of this odd anthill. Apparently, the little architects hadn’t planned on such wet weather and had stored their seed reserves too close to the ceiling of the compound. Their pantry has sprouted! I reckon that sparks have been flying during the Building Subcommittee testimonies on the Hill.

Ms. Brown, do you expect this committee to believe that you've never heard of rain?
Yes. But what does it matter? The grain is already ruined.

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.” –PROVERBS 4:5 (AMP)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Among the goats, Blueberry is the designated speaker-of-the-house. As long as she knows that I’m within earshot, her throaty bleat lets me know whether they want food, freedom, back in the barn, or company. I get a running commentary on the goatie state of affairs. Jubilee, spokesperson-in-training, always chimes in with her higher-pitched raspy trills. 

I should have suspected that something was up when I was out working today and heard neither of them. Something was up; rather, somebodies were up—in a Russian olive tree!

L to R: Blueberry, Jubilee, Jack

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Little Mercy has definitely come out of her shy, shrinking violet stage! She entertains us terrorizing her toy mice, scampering after her balls, attacking shoes, bouncing sideways up to the dog, and tearing around the house. She always wants to be wherever I am, “helping” me write or snuggling in my lap. I’ve been sick in the house for several days, so she and I have logged a lot of chair time together.

My little black lap-tiger

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life....” –PSALM 23:6 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Backyard Belle

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence is an expression that has nothing to do with real grass, unless, of course, you own cows. Someone had forgotten to turn the solar fence charger back on the other night, so we woke up to moos outside our kitchen window. Judging from the number of divets and cowpies in the lawn, trespassers Annabelle and Clarabelle must have availed themselves of fine dining for some time.

Annabelle must have had a hankering for more of our motley bluegrass-fescue-clover turf because she was parked across the fence all afternoon. I assume she was hoping that the fence people would make another mistake!

Annabelle, caught in the act

Waiting for another chance

“God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness.” –PSALM 145:3 (MSG)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's Coming

My least-favorite aspect of raising cattle is weaning, just a few weeks away. Weaning the heifers isn’t so bad because we keep them; before long, they’ll be able to rejoin the herd and live happily ever after. The steer calves will have to be sold, however, which will be heart-rending.

Just as she does every year, Princess, who has yet to give birth to a heifer, will stare me down and bawl and ask me to bring her calf back. Just as I do every year, I’ll tell her, I can’t. I’m so sorry. But just hang on—pretty soon, the next little one will come along. Maybe this time, you’ll have a heifer! Hubby swears that she understands me and calms down before any of the other cows. 

Cupcake and her heifer calf, Dazzle, take a midday nap together

“The one who knows much says little; an understanding person remains calm.” –PROVERBS 17:27 (MSG)

Monday, October 7, 2013


My freezer is gradually filling with jars of goat milk destined for bars of soap. But even though I’ve been celebrating our milking efforts, I must admit that it’s nothing like a true dairy operation. Unlike many goat dairywomen in this area, I’m not dedicated enough to do it twice a day, every day, so I let the kids—Jack, Jubilee, Tonto, Minnie, and Moey—happily take over the milking chores  when I’m short of time and energy. At this point, I’m just a dairy dabbler.

 A cold milking morning
Besides Meels' milk, Moey loves Russian olives (pictured), alfalfa, grain, crackers

 “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” –JOHN 1:16 (NASB)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Just One Question

Did we skip a season?

Summer in winter's grip

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.” –ECCLESIASTES 3:1 (AMP)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Every Season

Another storm is upon us. I would take some last photos of the roses, but I don’t think my camera is rainproof, and besides, the poor blossoms are whipping unbecomingly in the wet, blustery wind. There are petals all over the sodden grass, soon to be covered, they say, with snow. SighIt looks like my precipitation-phobic goats will be staying in the barn for a while.

In an effort to accept the passing of summer and embrace the change of seasons, I snapped a shot of glowing autumn while on my morning walk. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s photo—it might be a shot of gleaming winter!

Willows, reed grasses, currents, and smaller cottonwoods add beautiful contrast to a backdrop of Russian olives and big cottonwoods. 

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden…bearing fresh fruit every season.” –JEREMIAH 17:8 (MSG)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Milk Maids

Blueberry and Meels are finally living up to the dairy in Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goat.

Blueberry likes the process: get up on milking stand, put head into stanchion, eat grain, get milked. When that cream (Nigies have the highest butterfat percentage of all goats) streams into the cup, I remember that she nearly died in July, and I think, Every drop is a miracle!

In keeping with her nonconformist personality, Meels is somewhat fidgety and less cooperative, but her milk flows easier than Blueberry’s. Little Moey still nurses her mama at night, but even so, Meels gives as much as Blueberry.

I’d never milked before, but Hubby grew up on a dairy farm, so we soon got the hang of goat milking. Humans have been milking animals for eons, but I doubt any have been much, if any, more proud of the results!

“…Drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.” –1 PETER 2:3 (MSG)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bug Heaven

Although we woke to frost, the sun rallied and warmed the sharpness right out of the air. Four of us were working on a concrete-pouring project and were soon happily shedding our coats and sweatshirts.

I haven’t been seeing much of my bug neighbors lately, but with the gorgeous weather, the bees and other insects were out in droves. (Yesterday was somewhat warm, but the stiff winds would surely have blown many a bug into the next county.) 

Today wasn’t a good day to smell the roses, however. If you inhaled too deeply from any given blossom, you might breathe in one or two honeybees!

Butterfly, bee, and tiny spider (right of butterfly) in asters

Honeybee in Rainbow's End rosebush

“I live and breathe God….” –PSALM 34:2 (MSG)