Wednesday, December 31, 2014


It was -29 degrees this morning. I must have bundled up in nearly 29 layers to go outside and do chores. 

Hubby soon followed, only to discover a failed heating system and frozen stock water tank. He said nothing, but the look on his face read plainly: Wyoming ranch for sale. All offers considered. Prefer trade for property adjoining Equator. 

Sugar and the rest of the stock seemed grateful for any rays of sunshine, no matter how weak. 

"Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstance you find yourself in." ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (VOICE)

Monday, December 29, 2014

West of Eden

The red cedars growing along our back fence were originally planted in a windbreak along a pasture fence. They made it through their first winter okay, but then a neighboring farmer's weed spray drifted onto our little cedars. 

Son Zach and I rescued the rather sickly survivors, transplanting them to the edge of our yard where the soil is tough but the location safer. They fought hard, and most made it, even after an onslaught of stray cattle (belonging to the same neighbor) tromped and tore their branches that fall. 

We're in the midst of a rather brutal winter, but I'm not worried about my cedars. Trees don't get any tougher than these. Besides, that particular neighbor is now farming in heaven!

"You thrill to God's Word....You're a tree replanted in Eden...." ~Psalm 1:3 (MSG)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Fur Coat Country

At six degrees south of zero, fog freezes on everything--even horses. Don't worry. Solly's winter coat is plush and toasty warm, and he has plenty of cushy insulation under that coat as well! 

"Warm me, your servant, with a smile." ~Psalm 31:16 (MSG)

Friday, December 26, 2014


Readers familiar with our cows will be heartened to see that Flame's candle-flame can't be snuffed out, even by a blizzard!

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." ~John 1:4 (NKJV)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Making Merry

Minnie and Moey munched on corn chips, one if their favorite snacks, at their Ugly Holiday Sweater Party today. Merry Christmas, everyone! 

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" ~Luke 2:14 (NKJV)

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Nannies

In bovine society, it's not uncommon for cows to leave their calves in the custody of a few babysitters while they graze elsewhere. I've always wondered if such guardians are appointees or volunteers and if, over the course of time, everyone in the herd takes her turn at the post. Regardless, I'm impressed that cows can manage their affairs and assignments so seamlessly--without the benefit of calendars, e-mail, and leadership training!

These two Red Angus beauties were recently on nanny duty in the Downing ranch's fall calving herd in Fort Morgan, Colorado. 

"He who keeps you will not slumber." ~Psalm 121:3 (NKJV)

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Most likely, you've traversed runways, hallways, highways, freeways, byways, and driveways. You may have navigated pathways, fairways, raceways, causeways, railways, or subways. But I bet you've never been down a cowway. 

Hubby scraped the snow off a mile or so of strips so the cows would get out and graze (rather than just standing around waiting for handouts). Each is more plump than the other and could do with more exercise! 

"God's Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness...showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace." ~Luke 1:79 (MSG)

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Calving season is nearly four months away, but when I look at Dazzle, I can't help but envision a little calf named Razzle in Dazzle's future.  

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." ~Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why Can't We?

If cows can do this black-and-white (and brown-red-yellow) thing so well, why can't we?

"In humility let each esteem others as better than themselves." ~Philippians 2:3 (JUB)

Monday, December 15, 2014


By virtue of their youth and cuteness, the heffies (weanling heifers) are the most coddled of our bovines. After a snow event leaves the heffies and their quarters soggy, Hubby fires up the tractor. The heffies moo in anticipation while Hubby dumps a hill or two of dry barley straw by the windbreak. 

When I open the gate, they race and buck, pawing and rooting and scattering straw all over one another. After the fun is over, the playground converts to a dry, much-appreciated napping spot for our happy, healthy heffies. 

Pearl and Brownie, playing themselves dry. 

"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully."~1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

One Ear Apiece

After waking to a light snow, I determined that the timing was perfect for the horses' annual Christmas photo. Hubby dutifully moved a wreath to a strategic post. "We'll do it before we feed them," I announced. "That way, we can shake their grain can and keep their attention."


I should have been recording video instead of snapshots. Sugar (left) kept trotting up to us, then pretending to spook at the dog and tearing madly down the hill to the exact spot where, she informed us by angrily pawing the ground, she should have already been eating breakfast ten minutes ago! 

As far as capturing the horses' attention, the best we could get was one ear apiece. 

"Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles." ~Author unknown 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Wonders and Wanders

A disadvantage of living in a rural, scarcely populated area such as ours is a dearth of stores. Christmas shopping can become something of an expedition, involving planning (who will do the evening chores? which business in which town is most likely to have the best selection? what is the weather forecast?) and much driving. 

But any inconvenience is made inconsequential by the wonders seen along the way. Call me a rustic, but I'd much prefer mountains and mustangs to malls!

"Not all who wander are lost." ~J.R.R. Tolkien 

"I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." ~Psalm 27:13 (NIV)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Presenting Minnie

Of all my little goat herd, Minnie is the most overlooked. Her unassuming personality and creamy uncolor combine to make her less noticeable than her more assertive and striking herdmates.  (How many of us have felt nearly invisible at times?) But Minnie proves that presentation, pushiness and pigment aren't everything: when the sun sets, she's the only goatie that glows!

"Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight." ~Isaiah 58:10 (MSG)

Saturday, December 6, 2014


One snowy, bitterly cold day jammed with farm errands and holiday shopping, we stopped at McDonald's for lunch. Amazingly, a group of elegantly dressed high school students filed in and proceeded to sing carols so divinely that every weary face lit up. 

Today we discovered this adorable miniature horse--Tuffy by name--spreading seasonal delight in the normally ho-hum parking lot of Western Ranch Supply. 

I love it when Christmas happens where you least expect it. 

"With every sun's rising, surprise us with Your love." ~Psalm 90:14 (VOICE)

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Respite

Do you, like me, live where summer goes south for the winter, taking the gardens with it? If so, and if your eyes are starved for flowers, then pull on some old boots and follow me...

...down to the barn. Grab a bucket, turn it over, take a seat. Hold out your hand. Wait. Be patient. Like flowers, cows live in a different time zone than we do, on another planet that doesn't spin as crazy-fast.

Like her namesake, Pansy is the bold one that always comes first. If she senses that you are safe, she'll gently nuzzle your fingers. I dare you not to smile.

Marigold is more cautious. She'll study you longer, ask more questions with her eyes. If she comes up to greet you, consider it a great honor.

I hope that my flower girls brightened your winter day at least a little bit!

"...That our God should lighten our eyes, and give to us a little life in our servitude." ~Ezra 9:8 (WYC)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mine Farming

It's cold and snowy, not the kind of weather that you'd expect anyone to be sowing seed. But in high desert environments like the one where Hubby does mine reclamation, this is actually the best time for planting. 

Bentonitic, rocky, disturbed soils are quite inhospitable most seasons, but winter snows make them almost, a little bit, very nearly agreeable. In addition to moisture, many native species of forbs and shrubs also require a period of cold stratification in order to germinate. 

Hubby tells me that his mine-farming efforts have been most appreciated by the local horned lark populace who have been happily availing themselves of their sudden windfall.  

The jackrabbits don't seem to mind Hubby's intrusion into their home either, even allowing him within four feet. Perhaps they feel safer from the coyotes and eagles when men and machinery are out and about. 

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." ~Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

Monday, December 1, 2014

No Gold, No Rush

SCRUNCH, SCRUNCH. Days of semi-thaws and sub-zero nights had made skiing impossible but walking or running treacherous. Out came the snowshoes. 

In my woolens, parka, and footgear, I fancied myself a character in a Jack London novel, with only a few deviations from the Klondike norm. My usually-loyal canine companion had decided instead to accompany Hubby on a more beaten path. I wasn't shadowed by wolves but by our horses, Sugar and Solly. My prescription sunglasses had fogged and frozen, leaving me nearly blind, but no matter, there was no hidden crevasse to sidestep, Yukon River to fall into, or Chilkoot Trail to lose. And, alas, my prospects for finding gold were poor indeed. 

Okay, perhaps London was a bit of a stretch. 

"God cast you in His play, wrote you into His story." ~Max Lucado

Friday, November 28, 2014

Supply and Demand

Recent bouts of snow and fog have made sunshine a sought-after commodity for man and beast, especially since the days are getting shorter and shorter. The same livestock that sought the shade not so long ago now turn broadside to the sun so as to absorb every available wavelength of radiant energy. 

The same two-legged folk that shunned the bright afternoon summer sunlight just a few months ago are now throwing open curtains and hugging hot mugs and hearths. If some physicist-entrepreneur would figure out how to capture and package sunbeams, we'd pay whatever the asking price!

"Those who look to Him are radiant with joy." ~Psalm 34:5 (HCSB)

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Don't tell Hubby, but this afternoon, I misappropriated some of his tortilla chips and snuck them out to the goaties for a Thanksgiving treat. (I also pilfered carrots and apples for the horses, but he won't miss them so much.)

The Terrible Tiger served as lookout while the goaties crunched the contraband. I guess that makes him an accessory to the crime. 

"How joyful are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered!" ~Romans 4:7 (HCSB)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cat Burglar

One minute, Mercy is nestled in my arms, an angel with whiskers...

...the next thing I know, the little twerp has stolen my checkbook out of my purse! 

Did I say "angel"?

"...Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy." ~Psalm 102:4 (AMP)


Tuesday, November 25, 2014


How can I not be thankful for the advent of winter? If it weren't for the bitter cold that freezes the northernmost rivers, the bald eagles wouldn't be back. 

I'm thrilled to report that at least one of the two youngsters hatched and raised in a nearby tree has also come home!

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is though everything is a miracle." ~Albert Einstein 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Heffie Chronicles

The weanling heifers, aka the heffies, are thriving despite the recent severe cold snap, growing noticeably both up and out! Since they've been residing close to home, we've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them better....

Pansy (above right, eating her straw bedding) is an outspoken little busybody. She always wants to know what we're up to and give us her two cents' worth, loudly. Even if we're out of sight in or around the barn, Pansy generally voices an opinion, registers a complaint, or fills us in on the latest back-fence buzz. 

Marigold (above) mothers the others, especially Brownie, one of the youngest. One morning, Brownie was stretched out, napping so soundly that Marigold was worried that something was wrong. When a gentle nudge didn't arouse Brownie, Marigold panicked and butted Brownie so hard that the latter was rolled onto her back, feet pointing heavenward. Needless to say, Brownie woke up.

"No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love." ~1 Corinthians 13:3 (MSG)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Jungle Day

For the first time in 10 days, the mercury managed to clamber up and over the freezing mark--by only 2 degrees--but after all the sub-zero-ness, 34 felt positively sublime. 

The horses, goats, and weanling heifers lazed and napped nearly all day long, but not so the Terrible Tiger. He awoke from semi-hibernation on the bed and happily went outside to prowl the jungle. He must have annoyed the gazelles (goats) one too many times because I saw them chase him up a fencepost!

At sundown, the Terrible Tiger surveys his domain from atop a round bale. 

"Rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you." ~Deuteronomy 26:11 (NKJV)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Meadow Ballet

Mule deer are a fairly common sight in my corner of the world--but usually in arrears, since the appearance of a two-legged person with a spotted dog always sends mulies into disappearance mode. 

This morning, however, a doe and nearly grown fawn didn't notice Bodie and me on the canal road. Perhaps the falling, shimmering frost distracted them because for a few mesmerizing moments, the pair glided our direction, two elegant ballerinas on a snowy stage. Suddenly, one caught a scent and coughed a loud warning. In an flash, they were gone, but the smile on my face lingered long.  

"It is a terrible thing, I found, to be grateful and have no one to thank, to be awed and have no one to worship." ~Philip Yancey, What's So Amazing About Grace?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When Snow Flows

"Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part." ~Philip Yancey, What's So Amazing about Grace

Monday, November 17, 2014


In this part of the country, red and blue roan horses generally bring higher sale prices than their more solid counterparts. But winter is a great equalizer. On a sub-zero morning, every horse--and cow--is a roan!



"That grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God." ~2 Corinthians 4:15 (NKJV)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Farm Skiing

Making the most of our early winter, I've knocked the dust off the cross-country skis and swished some ski swatches through the new snow. Cows, deer, rabbits, mice, a feral cat, and even our dog seem to think I made the trails for their traveling ease and use them like so many sidewalks!

Bodie--good cowdog, great trail buddy, awesome sidekick. 

"All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth." ~Psalm 25:10 (NKJV)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Then and Now



"How many lessons of faith and beauty should we lose, if there were no winter in our year!" ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Summer Echoes

Winter flexed its muscles this morning, sending the mercury to 28 below, yet as this afternoon's photos suggest, summer is having the last word. 

      Freeze-dried roses in the garden

         Wild rose hips along the river

"One must maintain a little bit of summer even in the middle of winter." ~
Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Just last Saturday, I was running in a sweatshirt and mowing the lawn in a t-shirt. But this weeks' double-digits-below-zero lows and single-digit highs means that now I'm sporting more layers than a wedding cake!

Sparkle looks dazzling in her winter coat. 

"Restore the sparkle to my eyes." ~Psalm 13:3 (NLT)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Best Thing

 "All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl."  -Author unknown 

Sugar loves being groomed by this young student who has grown leaps and bounds in skills and confidence. "This is the best thing I've ever done," she said on one of her recent rides. Apparently the feeling is mutual, since Sugar follows her girl around without a halter or lead rope!

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Some of my favorite places are paths. A path, whether walked, run, hiked, or ridden upon, is at once soothing to the soul and stirring to the spirit. How can I not feel hope when trotting down a trail, when some treasure of vista or wild thing surely waits just around the bend or over the hill? 

"You direct me on a path that leads to a beautiful life." --Psalm 16:11 (VOICE)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Of Cud and Kin

I wonder if social scientists have ever posed this question: Does the family that chews the cud together stay together?

Daisy Mae (center) chewing the cud with daughters Gracie (top) and Mayzie. 

Meels (center) chewing the cud with daughters Moey (top) and Minnie. 

"Keep the corners of your mouth turned up."--Mother Teresa

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pretty in Pink


Tonight's sunset cast Sugar in a quite flattering, pinkish light. 

"He wraps you in goodness--beauty eternal." --Psalm 103:4 (MSG)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Most of our fall hues have either faded, fallen, frozen, or flown away in the wind, but today divulged a few tiny bits of color here and there.  

               Berries on red cedar

                    Currant leaf


"Cherish every moment of the fleeting life God has given you under the sun." --Ecclesiastes 9:9 (VOICE)