Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pie Trees

Without a doubt, the celebrity shrub of our windbreaks is the Nanking cherry. This tough, bushy and fast-growing species is a long way from home—China, Japan and the Himalayas—but thrives with only occasional watering. Of course, it owes its star power to its blossoms and cherries (most of the fruit we eat here hails from kinder climates, many, many miles away).

We aren’t the only fans of the Nanking cherries. A solar charger powers four electric wires to keep the deer from feasting on the tender branches. And if the birds will share some of the cherries with me, maybe I can make a pie this year!

Nanking cherry (foreground) and golden currant

“…For the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true….” –EPHESIANS 5:9 (ESV)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Great Blue Reflection

Old Blue, our heron-in-residence, was kind enough to allow me to inch somewhat closer for a slightly better photo. I don’t consider myself or my little point-and-shoot camera a threat to his livelihood or reputation, but he evades me like I’m some member of the paparazzi trying to catch him in an unseemly pose. Or perhaps he suspects that I’m some undercover operative for Carp Unlimited or Crawdads Forever, gathering evidence against him. I wish I could explain to him that I’m just a fan!

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” –PROVERBS 27:19 (NIV)

Monday, April 28, 2014


Terms like “going green” and “sustainability” and even “recycling” are relatively new, but the concept has been around for millennia. Ever since the first domestic cow ate her first bite of green grass, “cow-cycling” has continued, without end.

If you've always lived far removed from cows and aren’t able to visualize the process, well, today is your lucky day!

Grass and alfalfa grow and are eaten by cows...

...Who digest the feed, converting it into energy, calves, milk, meat and...

 ...Manure, which is eventually composted and gathered by a farmer...

...Who spreads it on his fields, where bacteria, fungi, and worms further break it down...

...So nitrates, phosphorus, potassium and other elements nourish the pasture. And the cycle continues....
“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” –MATTHEW 11:29 (MSG)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Help Wanted: Meteor-therapists

If spring was a person, it might have long since been medicated in order to manage its extreme and erratic mood swings. Or perhaps it would have been treated for dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder). 

At any given moment, spring can be sweet and gentle, all showers and flowers. But spring is a notorious nonconformist. Given a few hours, it may revert to winter or sublimely slide into summer or even throw some tantrum-like tempest.

I don’t know if there’s a cure for spring. All I know is that it can’t be trusted!

Pansy, Snoopy and Marigold this damp, blustery morning

Pansies on windowsill wait 

Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. 
–PSALM 62:8 (NASB)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sagebrush Steppe

A bee found some spring parsley

The Sandberg bluegrass is lush this year--the wild horses will get fat!
Pronghorn antelope, the fastest mammal in North America; also one of the most curious

The "badlands" 
“…He will comfort all her waste places.
And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord….” –ISAIAH 51:3 (NASB)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Great Blue Dreams

A certain great blue heron comes back every March. He’s aloof, dignified, and extremely camera-phobic. Even though he’s fished our canal and marsh every spring and summer for the eight years we’ve been here, I’ve never caught him on camera until just the other day, and then only at a great distance.

 I call him Old Blue. He probably goes by another name. But I could be right about the old part, since great blue herons have been known to live up to 24 years.

Old Blue must have grown weary of his bachelorhood because he seems to have traded his solitary, carefree existence to pursue the companionship of an elegant, azure flirtation whose name, I can only assume, is Bayou.*

Old Blue

Bayou (left camouflage) and Old Blue (right camouflage)

 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” –1 JOHN 4:10 (NIV)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

The first of the wild asparagus 

I had good help cleaning the rose bed this afternoon

“The earth is full of the loving-kindness of the Lord.” –PSALM 33:5 (AMP)

Sunday, April 20, 2014


I don’t know if we had the harshest winter on record, but it surely seemed like the longest. It has been many months of gazing at nearly colorless deciduous skeletons out my window, wondering if maybe the cold was just too much for them, if maybe they were as dead as they looked, if even spring couldn’t save them.

But this week, confirmation that something wonderful indeed has been happening within those seemingly lifeless bones!

Purple catkins on a male plains cottonwood. The catkins emerge before the leaves because the pollen is transmitted via wind--of which we have plenty this time of year.
Chartreuse catkins on a female plains cottonwood. It's been estimated that one cottonwood produces millions of seeds every year.

Buffalo berry are in blossom in the windbreak.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” –1 PETER 1:3 (NASB)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Desert Bouquets

We hiked and jogged in the desert this morning. Our search for wild horses came to naught--other than tracks and "evidence"--but we found another unexpected treasure: wildflowers!

Hood's phlox

Indian paintbrush

Hopefully, the last snowdrift of the season!

“Let the field be exultant, and all that is in it!” –PSALM 96:12 (AMP)

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Ballyhoo Triangle

Of a morning, you can head south from our place on the canal road and, about a half mile down, you’ll hear them. Three western meadowlarks—for which I took the liberty of naming Uno, Dos, and Trés—will each be perched in his respective point of the invisible but oh, so audible Ballyhoo Triangle.

Over and over, the musical battle plays, as each tries to out-sing the other to win the affections of any señorita listening. Volume and melodies vary, but we theorize that bragging and propaganda make up most of the “lyrics”!

Uno, the loudest. Perhaps he has an amp up there? 
Trés, not to be outdone.

“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’” –2 CORINTHIANS 1:20 (NLT)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Neither Ho Nor Hum

A gorgeous evening deserves better than work or television, so the goats and I went for a walk. Well, I walked. They did everything but walk. They skittered, raced, skipped, scampered, trotted, sashayed, zigzagged and zagzigged. If you know goats, you know that they have a strong aversion to ho-hum!

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” –PSALM 16:11 (AMP)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Making Waves

One of the most endearing things about a baby calf is the joy and exuberance which he embraces the big world outside his mama’s womb. One would think that someone so new and wobbly and naïve would be a bit timid and apprehensive, but not so, as Tigger demonstrates.

Tigger's waves aren't natural--it's just that his new mama hardly ever stops licking him! 
Tigger and his brother, Gunder. The latter is two weeks older and much chubbier than Tigger, but Tigger's taller!

Tigger scampering and bucking about the corral.

“Once in a while someone amazing comes along, and here I am.” --Tigger

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” –3 JOHN 1:2 (NKJV)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Creature Comforts

After the latest snowstorm-turned-quagmire, we put out yet more beds of clean, dry straw for the calves. But as you can see, the calves weren’t the only ones availing themselves of our hospitality!

Wilbur napping with his mama, Winky

Pearl stretched out beside her mama, Panda

Brownie resting alongside her mama, Ziggy

Marigold  snuggled next to her mama, Annabelle

“Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully.” –1 PETER 4:9 (MSG)

Sunday, April 13, 2014


The scene from the window this morning

But inside the barn...

Was Sundae's new calf...


“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” –ISAIAH 53:5 (AMP)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Small but Mighty

Another sign that spring is underway: the mustards—ah-CHOO—are beginning to bloom on southeast-facing hillsides. Hundreds of mustard species proliferate in Wyoming, I’m told. Most folks consider mustards to be weeds, but some sustainable farmers use mustards and other brassicas (such as radishes, rapeseed, and turnips) to help control nematodes, fungi, and invasive weeds.

Stockholders in companies which manufacture facial tissue and allergy medications probably have mustard pollen to thank for part of their proceeds!

Some of the pollen-est flowers I know!

“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” –MATTHEW 17:20 (ESV)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Firsts

The first caterpillar

The first viola--it even bloomed before the dandelion did!

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” –Thornton Wilder

Monday, April 7, 2014

S.O.S. Pt. 3

We prayed for Gracie’s milk to come in, and it did, but not enough. So we supplemented Gunder with goat’s milk and asked for more prayer. More milk came. Maybe it was enough, we thought, because Gunder was getting more and more playful and didn’t seem to be seeking more milk all the time. But still we worried.

But now, Gunder finishes his meals, and Gracie has some left over! We know for sure because sometimes Hubby milks a few squirts out, just to prove that she has more than enough. Every extra drop is grace.

At this moment, hundreds of thousands—maybe more—of little calves are on the ground. If the Lord answers a few earnest prayers for one nondescript black calf named Gunder—who is, after all, just a cow—don’t you think He’ll answer yours?

A healthy, happy Gunder 

“You open Your hand and satisfy every living thing with favor.” –PSALM 145:16 (NASB)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Humble Beginnings

By any landscape designer’s definition, they’re not superstars. I’ve never seen them grace the glossy pages of Better Homes and Gardens. But they’re native to the area and tough enough for these dry, alkaline, clay soils as well as drought and temperature extremes. So I’ve chosen basin big sagebrush, rubber rabbitbrush, and Gardner’s saltbush to transplant into the cabin’s “back yard”. Even when they’re grown into their glory, they probably won’t tempt any garden magazine photographers, but the wildlife and bees will be happy for the habitat—and so will I because I won’t have to be watering my shrubs!


Rubber rabbitbrush


“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.” –1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-28 (ESV)

Saturday, April 5, 2014


We watched the bald eagle family refurbish last year’s nest but then haven’t seen much of them for several weeks. I thought maybe they had abandoned the nest to build another elsewhere. But today we caught a glimpse of a white head poking out of the nest. Keeping a respectful distance, we watched her for a while. Once she shifted positions but didn’t move far. Incubation must be in progress!

      “Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
      And makes his nest on high?
–JOB 39:27 (NASB)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Straw Babies

Sometimes the sun shines, but then we’re hit with another combination of snow, rain, frost, sleet, clouds, and wind. No sooner do some of the early season grasses try to green up then another wintery assault turns them an olive-tinged purple. The trees are still bare, the fields are still brown, and the ground is mucky, sodden, or sticky, depending where one steps.

Over the course of the past five weeks since the calves started coming, we’ve spread literally tons of straw bedding to keep them off the mud and snow as much as possible.

If this soggy weather trend continues much longer, perhaps we’ll have to consider raising ducks or pigs!

“He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.”
–PSALM 40:2 (NASB)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Paradigm Shift

Penelope, our shy little wallflower, had her first calf yesterday. He’s a bit long and lean, especially of nose, and is as feisty as he is sweet. As you would expect, his name is Licorice.

Before Licorice, Penelope tended to prefer her own company. Now that her beloved Licorice is here, she’s decided that solitude is definitely overrated!


“God sets the lonely in families….” –PSALM 68:6 (NIV)