Monday, June 30, 2014

The Goats, the Wadi, and the Wash

My son Zach, an anthropology student, has been studying and researching in Yemen this year. I recently asked him to tell me about the goat photo. I was both fascinated and troubled by his reply. 

"The goats we met while walking down to the Wadi Al-Maraba' from a village called Buni As-Saifee. Two 10-12 year old kids were herding them up the mountainside where they let them crawl along the cliffs and forage while the herders gathered weeds for hay later in the dry season. 

"They mostly sell and use the goats for meat if they have a cow, but recently the drought has been so bad more use them for milk. 

"In some places the removal of qat [a fast-growing tree, the leaves of which have been chewed traditionally for thousands of years for its stimulant effect] has been hard economically, as there are few other crops or trees, especially not coffee, that can handle the hotter and drier conditions in these dryland farms. Some farms were abandoned altogether. 

"This has a domino effect, particularly in the wadi (valley) that is in the middle of the sayl (flash flood drainage). Even if there is a little rain, it all drains from the surrounding mountains into the wadi. If the farms and erosion walls are not maintained, the sayl will easily wash them away, including the house. (People need money to maintain; qat easily provides this.) 

"The eroded material left is not arable and costs way too much to remove, and so one farm is left to the wash, then another and another, until whole parts of the wadi, once some of the most fertile areas, are washed downstream. 

"Then more and more people have to move to cities to work, but many can't. I've encountered a number of goat herders/ex-farmers now living in caves. 

"Qat, for all its controversial alkaloids, is hardy and valuable and seemed to play a critical role in preventing this sad scenario. I would argue that it may be more important for developers to focus on building dams, and then seeing if other things can be grown more economically, rather than ripping out all the qat in a hurry and wondering why there's no soil left to grow coffee or fruit. But such is the disconnect between poor farmers and the politics of those with the power and money to 'save the poor farmers from growing drugs'."

"As I have loved you, so you must love one another." --John 13:34 NIV

Sunday, June 29, 2014


The rudbeckia (foreground in photo) are just starting to shine.  Their radiant and enduring blooms elevate rudbuckia to flora stardom in my garden. 

Rudbeckia are, in fact, members of the huge Asteraceae family--aster meaning "star"--so called for their ray-like petals. (Sunflowers, daisies, zinnias, marigolds, calendula, and dandelions are a few common asteraceae.) 

The center disk of an asteraceae blossom is actually a composite of countless tiny, petal-less flowers, which must surely explain why they are so prolific!

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." --Psalm 34:4-5 NIV

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Showerful Day

You know it's a soggy day when we farmers and ranchers are wishing for wetsuits, and roses have puddles in them...

...and the goaties won't come out of their shed. 

"I will cause the showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing [of good insured by God's favor]." --Ezekial 34:26 AMP

Friday, June 27, 2014

Better than Hallmark

Happy Birthday, Grammie! From Moey, Minnie, and the gang. 

"I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health--that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul." --3 John 1:2 MSG

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Next Best

Rainbows have a way of vanishing before one can ever find the end of them. The next best thing, however, is a miniature rose named Rainbow's End. 

Less illusive and more fragrant than its meteorological namesake, my Rainbow's End blooms nonstop until frost. 

"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud." --Maya Angelou

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Morning Riches

Welcome to my yard!

Thanks for visiting!

"People don't know whether it's winter or summer when they're happy."~Anton Chekhov

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Ophthalmologists have noted a transitory  eye condition peculiar to farmers and ranchers. Symptoms present just prior to and during harvest time and are characterized by non-synchronic counteractive tracking (translation: one eye focuses on the job at hand, but the other attends towards any cloud on the horizon from which rainclouds generally source). 

In the arid West, life-giving rain is generally cause for celebration, but it can bring trouble or even ruin to harvest. 

Hay harvest happened here this week--the first of three per growing season.  Other than one light rain which did little damage, we have much to be thankful for: tons and tons of good hay, safely baled before last night's and today's thunderstorms. 

Don't worry about our eyes. After a mid-afternoon nap, they are quickly returning to normal. 

"So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit." --Galatians 6:9 MSG

Friday, June 20, 2014


The rancher from whom we bought our nearly two-year-old bull called him "the ugly bull" and "the bottom of the barrel". We're not in the habit of picking homely, skinny suitors for our bovine beauties, but we brought him home anyway. 

Because no one wanted him, we got him for a song. Besides, we reasoned, with better feed and a little love, he might transform from an ugly duckling to a handsome swan, from a cull to a champion. In an extreme stretch of faith, we named him Champ. 

For some odd reason, skinny Champ was almost immediately adopted by plump Daisy Mae and her equally pudgy clan: Daisy's two-year-old daughter, Gracie; Gracie's calf, Gunder; and Daisy's new heifer, little Mayzie. Here's hoping that metabolism is contagious!

Champ chewing the cud with Daisy Mae and Gracie. Little Mayzie is sleeping behind him. 

"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise...what is weak in the world to shame the strong...what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are." --1 Corinthians 1:27-28 (ESV)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Ike, the yearling bull, has appointed himself supreme commander of the First Heifer Regiment. Time and again, he musters up his troops, orders them into formation, and marches them to a more strategic corner of the corrals. I can only assume that he imagines that an "enemy" rival bull is lurking behind the barn.

The heifers sometimes humor him but often slip out of rank to stop by the mess hall or even nap in the shade. 

Private Dazzle and General Ike.

Ike trying to enlist some new recruits into his army. 

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." --2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Desert Neon

The prickly pear blossoms glow as if lit from within. I haven't seen any generators or electric outlets in the desert, so these blooms must be solar powered.

"And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it." --John 1:5 (AMP)

Monday, June 16, 2014

We've Been Duped

It's a commonly held notion that cows aren't the sharpest tacks on the board. They certainly don't understand English, right?

My theory: cows just want us to believe that so we're not expecting them to obey us. 

Case in point: when I say, "Time to go to new pasture, ladies," they all get up from their naps, moo loudly, and follow me at a trot. But if I walked out into said new pasture and said, "Time to go to back to the old pasture," everyone would play the deaf-and-dumb-cow card.

"Saying to those who are bound, 'Go forth,' ... They will not hunger or thirst ... For He who has compassion on them will lead them and guide them to springs of water." --Isaiah 49:9-10 (NASB)

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Not to be confused with shorthorn cattle, the short-horned lizard, commonly called horned toad, is actually the Wyoming state reptile.  

I don't know why the short-horned lizard garnered more legislative support than the rattlesnake, bull snake, or other scaly creatures. Perhaps the short-horned lizard's means of self-defense--camouflage, puffing themselves up with air to three times their size, and squirting noxious blood from their eyes--helped to make it one of the "coolest" of the cold-bloods. 

This little short-horned guy must not have felt threatened by me because I didn't get to witness any puffing or eye-squirting theatrics. 

"Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you." --Matthew 23:11 (MSG)

Friday, June 13, 2014


The bulls came home--to their new home, that is. The scenery here at their new place isn't near as striking as their birthplace at the base of Citadel Peak, but at least they don't have to worry about wolves and grizzly bears here. Besides, the Angus heifers and cows are lovely, and good feed abounds. Neither bull appears to be suffering from homesickness!

The Citadel, far right, overlooking the Siggins' ranch southwest of Cody, Wyoming.

The younger bull. Neither has named himself yet. 

"For we live by faith, not by sight." --2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On Patrol

Prickly pear grows where almost nothing else will. We don't have any on our place, but it's fairly common in areas which have been overgrazed by livestock. Perhaps prickly pear is nature's warning sign saying, Keep off--the range needs to heal. And the spines are the enforcers!

"A bruised reed He will not crush and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish." --Isaiah 42:3 (NASB)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Untamed Beauties

The wild roses were so fragrant this morning, and so popular with the bumblebees and honeybees, that my garden roses seemed somewhat humbled.

"God made the world for the delight of human beings--if we could see His goodness everywhere, His concern for us, His awareness of our needs...just the little things He does for us...we just begin to fall in love with just can't resist Him." --Mother Teresa

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mirror, Mirror on the Ranch

The neighbor horses--and mule--looked quite stunning reflected in the canal-mirror this evening. 

"But we...beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory...." --2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Walk This Way

I'm sure you've seen ropewalks, moonwalks and spacewalks. You may have trodden sidewalks, skywalks, boardwalks and crosswalks. Perhaps you've even taken sleepwalks, racewalks, cakewalks or fitness walks.

Might I recommend goatwalks? You walk, but the ho-hum ends there. Your companions provide all the merriment and entertainment you could ever want!

"Come, let us walk in the light of The Lord." --Isaiah 2:5

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bull Shopping

Since our cows don't get out much (unless someone leaves the gate open) and don't have access to social networking, we have to shop for a sire for next year's calves. 

Yesterday's bull shopping excursion at Siggins' Polled Herefords was pure joy because we got to meet some wonderful stockmen, see some beautiful Herefords, and gawk at some gorgeous scenery (up the South Fork Road from Cody).

And yes, we did find some gents for the ladies.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory...." --EPHESIANS 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

15 Minutes with Finnegan

I went to Oxbow Ranch, home of Rainhorse (, to find out more about Maria Lisa Eastman and her horses. Rainhorse provides several equine assisted counseling and learning programs in the area, and I couldn't wait to learn more. Maria was gracious enough to not only show me around the ranch and explain their programs, but also to allow me to experience some equine magic—er, therapy.

Somehow, the therapy horses know which clients need them. For instance, Emmy had a past full of abuse and neglect, so she often chooses kids or adults who need healing from similar trauma. She also suffers from arthritis and has been known to choose people who are living with chronic pain.

To my surprise, Emmy, Brego, Daylight, and Finnegan all chose me. At first, I thought, Wow, this is cool. All these horses really like me. Then it dawned on me that perhaps they thought that I was a real headcase and needed all the help I could get!

It was so difficult to select “my” horse from these dear volunteers. Emmy was sweet and pretty; Brego was charming and handsome; Daylight was beautiful and said to be a star therapist. But Finnegan, a sorrel Thoroughbred, planted herself right beside me and seemed to really want me to halter her, so off to the round pen we went.

Fifteen minutes with Finn revealed that she and I have a lot in common. We’re gentle, but certain triggers elicit fear, causing us to overreact. We’ve experienced rejection and exploitation. We lack confidence and aren’t always sure just who we are. We can’t get enough approval and acceptance.

My heart filled up and my eyes spilled over with an odd mishmash of relief, empathy, sorrow, gratitude, joy and love. I’ve worked with horses for years, but I’ve never made that kind of soul connection with a horse—or person, for that matter—in only 15 minutes.

My warmest thanks to Maria and Finn!

(For a wonderful read about horses as healers, I recommend Hope Rising by Kim Meeder.)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” –MATTHEW 5:3 (ESV)

Monday, June 2, 2014

When the Desert Rains

Saturday we went for another run in the desert, which is rather like a botanical garden this year because of our unusual moisture. More species are blooming now than I could ever record on camera, so I just picked some of my favorites to show here.



Beardtongue (blue) and Indian paintbrush

Scarlet guara

Locoweed (yellow) and Indian paintbrush

Sego lily

“The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
–ISAIAH 58:11 (NKJV)

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Calving season 2014 is officially and adorably wrapped up with a very late entry: little Mayzie.

When Hubby pregnancy tested Daisy Mae, he predicted that she wouldn’t calve until June. But when the sun came up on May 31, Mayzie was here, which is a good thing because I wouldn’t have wanted to name her Junezie. Besides her month of birth, Mayzie also owes her name to her maternal grandmother, our dear belated Maezie.

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning….” –ECCLESIASTES 7:8 (ESV)