Saturday, December 31, 2016

At the Speed of Ice

The glacial morning air was full of snowbows when we went for our run. (It's just coincidence that we "run" at the same rate that glaciers move.)

We bundled up in more layers than a wedding cake, so our jog was almost a resistance workout.

While we ran, Blueberry ate breakfast in her cozy new coat.


"Cause me to hear your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You I do trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You."   
                                        ~~Psalm 143:8

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Traffic Report

My chair can be a busy place. Traffic is heaviest early in the morning and late in the evening. 

Bodie's couch is less congested because he doesn't like to share his furniture. In his younger, less mellow days, he was even known to growl at friends and extended family members who had the audacity to join him on his sofa.


"I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts." ~John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Monday, December 19, 2016

December Faces

On one sweaty, sweltering summer day, I said to Hubby, "No matter how cold it gets this winter, I'm not going to complain." Therefore, I can only mention that lately our thermometer has become too familiar with the underside of 0° F. I can't whine about air that hurts faces, or frozen-stiff vehicles and hydraulics, or the myriad coats, gloves, and hats hung to dry near heater vents throughout the house.

But the animals made no such vow. Their faces speak volumes.


"If the King was willing to enter the world of animals and shepherds and swaddling clothes, don't you think He's willing to enter yours?" ~Max Lucado, Because of Bethlehem

Friday, December 16, 2016


Hubby's Tennessee Walking Horse, Solly, is wearing his 20 years well. One eye has a white spot from an injury, but he's as sound and spry as he was at age 5 (left photo). The years have added to Solly's wisdom as well as his midriff (if only I couldn't relate!).


"I recently had my annual physical examination, which I get once every seven years, and when the nurse weighed me, I was shocked to discover how much stronger the Earth's gravitational pull has become since 1990." ~Dave Barry

Monday, December 12, 2016


The heffies (weanling heifers) invented a new sport. Whenever I'm cleaning the barn and horse corral, they line up at the fence, waiting for the fun to start. When I open their gate, they trot into the barn, nose around for a while, then buck their way out the door. 

A few of the heffies play Barn Rodeo over and over, until I shut them back in their pen. It doesn't help my barn cleaning efforts much, but I get a kick out of watching them play.

Lest you think that the heffies are wild and woolly:


"If you watch a game, it's fun. If you play it, it's recreation. If you work at it, it's golf." ~Bob Hope

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Three Degrees and a Breeze

Miss Lily is a quick study, and her cowdog lessons are going well. Well, one time she did get a bit confused, accidentally stampeding four cows the wrong way through the gate. Hubby was in the process of closing said gate and very nearly got knocked over. 

Lily has no extra fur or fat to insulate her from frigid temperatures, so I bundled her in her heaviest sweater this three-degree morning. Lily got several strange looks from the bovine populace, who've never seen a dog in people clothes before, but hypothermia would have been harder to bear.

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." ~Oscar Wilde

Monday, December 5, 2016

All Eyes

When Peaches appeared on the scene last year, we fell in love with that sweet little gal with those big, pretty eyes.

Eighteen months later, Peaches isn't the biggest heifer in the herd, but she's still got the biggest, prettiest eyes.


"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." ~Psalm 27:13 NIV

Thursday, December 1, 2016


When we weaned the heifers, we left Helga-come-lately (she was a June baby) with her mama until she was older. Yesterday, Hubby decided that Helga was ready to be weaned. Helga was happy to be reunited with her big sisters--at first--until she missed her warm milk at bedtime.   

Helga has not ceased to protest. Loudly. As the cute little baby of the family, she's accustomed to over-indulgence, not boundaries.   

Helga's big sisters, especially Cinnamon, try to console her. (Do they empathize with her plight, or do they just want her to calm down and stop bawling?)  

Fortunately, Helga's distress hasn't affected her appetite.


"But God, who comforts and encourages the depressed and the disquieted...." ~2 Corinthians 7:6 AMP

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cow Chow

Her Royal Highness, Annabelle, has a more refined palate than most cows. She likes a side dish of squash, bananas, or other fruit in her luncheon menu.

Bella, one of Annabelle's daughters, is so fond of fruit that I've nicknamed her Fruit Loop.

Bella and Annabelle aren't served any apples, though. The horses don't share.


"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." ~Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanks Giving

While Cinnamon and her fellow heffies stuffed themselves with hay, Hubby and I overstuffed ourselves with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie with our church family. Before we ate, we delivered hot Thanksgiving meals to folks who couldn't cook their own feast. It was so much fun to see the surprise and delight on their faces!

"When you're overwhelmed with the goodness of God to you, you overflow with the goodness of God to others." ~Ann Voskamp

Friday, November 18, 2016

Jump In

Kids can't resist playing in a pile of leaves...

...and heifers can't resist playing in a pile of straw.

"A man is getting old when he walks around a puddle instead of through it." ~R.C. Ferguson

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The In-Crowd

I need a bigger recliner. 


"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow." ~Jeff Valdez

Thursday, November 10, 2016


The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series, so it's finally cool to be a Cubbie. I'm now free to disclose my Cubs heritage. 

My dad has been following the Cubs for over 70 years. When Dad was a kid growing up in Beardstown, Illinois, he mowed lawns for two bachelors who owned a sporting goods store. The store had a radio, and the owners let Dad swing bats and pound balls into gloves while listening to the Cubs' games. Dad says that his family's favorite outing was to drive to St. Louis to see the Cubs play the Cardinals in a double header. 

Dad's dad, Pete, was handy with a baseball. By age 16, he was pitching in a semi-pro league and was even offered a minor league contract by the Yankees. But an arm injury, a job on the railroad (in the Depression), and marriage to my grandma ensured that the family name was only associated with the Cubs. 

By the way, Dad grew up and met Mom. Her people were Cardinals, but they let her marry him anyway. 

My grandpa, Pete, in 1982. 

My grandma, Nelda, with Dad, circa 1938. 


"People ask me a lot about the values I got from playing for the Cubs for so many years. The value I got was patience. A lot of people these days are not very patient." ~Ernie Banks

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Practical Panther

Given a sunny day, she's Mercy Monster, the famous Fearless Peerless Panther Princess. No one in the jungle is safe. 

Because a jungle isn't supposed to be cold, wet, or windy, Mercy is a fair weather panther. Wyoming jungles don't always meet the criteria, however, so she must be flexible. 

Mercy is also known as the Terrible Table Monster, but that's another story. If it isn't picked up by Animal Planet, I'll tell it here. 


"The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, 
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm mad as a hatter 
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES."
     ~T.S. Eliot, "The Naming of Cats", Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats 

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Pepper Tale

Note: I told an expanded version of this story in The Western Farmer-Stockman several years ago, but it should be new to most of you.

Hubby was raised—along with four brothers, a sister, dairy cattle, sheep, and chickens—on a ranch near Fishtail, Montana. The kids showed their sheep in 4-H; Hubby and his sister, Nancy, also had horse projects.

One day, their brother, Dale, took Nancy’s mare, Cocoa, for a ride with his friend, Jim. The latter rode a young stallion which he was training for someone else. Jim really liked the stud, a smart, tough Appaloosa which had been found running with mustangs in the Missouri Breaks.

Cocoa happened to be in heat. Neither Dale nor Jim had permission from the horses’ owners, but they decided to let nature take its course. To this illegitimate union, a speckled gray filly named Pepper was born. Folks said she looked just like a Nez Perce horse. 

After Hubby’s folks retired and moved to town, Pepper came to Hubby’s place. Oddly enough, Pepper despised cows and looked for any excuse to bite them. On the other hand, she readily bonded to people, sheep, and dogs, preferring their company even to that of horses.

Although she was small, Pepper proved scrappy and sure-footed, so Hubby decided she’d be perfect for elk hunting. He hauled her in a stock rack on his 1958 Chevy pickup. To make it easier for Pepper to jump aboard, he’d back the truck up to a hillside. Pepper relished their expeditions into the Beartooth Mountains; however, after one cold, snowy hunt along Rock Creek, Pepper was so eager to go home that she leaped into the truck before Hubby could back it up to a slope.

When Hubby’s brother, Loren, took a job herding sheep for MSU’s Red Bluff Ranch, he needed a good horse. Pepper joined Loren, his dogs, and a thousand head of ewes on the Madison River. Pepper loved the work. She never strayed from Loren's side and helped him keep watch for bears.

Gallatin National Forest rules required sheep to be bedded on fresh ground every night, so Loren and company soon adjusted to nomadic life. An avid history buff, Loren rode bareback and used an Indian-made bridle. He built an authentic Crow teepee, which Pepper pulled from camp to camp with a travois. At the end of the day, Loren and Pepper loved to swim in any nearby pond or creek.

In time, Loren took a new herding job up on Grove Creek near the Beartooths, where sheep were safe from bears but not coyotes or death camas. This photo of Loren and Pepper was taken there by a photographer from the Stillwater County News.

Loren passed away about 30 years ago. No one recalls what happened to Pepper. My guess: that horse is up above, grazing next to Loren's teepee.


"You might expect rivers to run backwards as any man born free to be contented penned up." ~Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it (Chief Joseph), Nez Perce 

Friday, October 28, 2016


Our bales are held together with stretchy plastic net wrap. 

Net wrap is also the construction material of choice for most of the local songbirds. 

We use a flatbed trailer to haul hay from fields to haystacks. 

Panda also uses the trailer--for shade. 

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." ~Romans 8:28 NLT 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

La Peinture

One of the highlights of my recent visit to Boston was a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite being rather underdressed in my boot-cut jeans and plaid flannel shirt ensemble. (It helped to imagine my fellow patrons wearing their fancy duds in rural Wyoming.)

Maybe because I was missing the farm,  of my favorite paintings was She-Goat (Rosa Bonheur, 1822-1899).

Back home, Mademoiselle Blueberry and company sun themselves in similar fashion every morning after breakfast. 

"I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn't itch." ~Gilda Radner 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Maxwell and Billy

In contemporary Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goat terms, our little Maxwell is a buck. But his orneriness, audacity, and offensive odor are typical billy goat. 

When Hubby was a kid, his dad kept a big black and brown billy goat to protect his sheep. He's not sure whether it was Billy's horned hostility that repelled coyotes--or his stench. 

Hubby says that Billy also came in handy for deterring overly persistent traveling salesmen. When Billy leapt onto and danced upon the tops of their fancy cars, the angry salesmen couldn't leave the farm fast enough. 

Billy liked to bunt the kids unless their dad armed them with a big stick. He kept a respectful distance from Hubby's mom though. He never forgot how ferociously she'd chased him out of her yard that time she'd caught him eating her flowers.

One day, I found Maxwell repeatedly bunting a little sapling. He paid no mind to my attempts to rescue the tree, that is until I dumped a bucket of water on him. (Goats hate to get wet. I think they're afraid they'll dissolve.)

My advice to delivery drivers or traveling salesmen whose work brings you to our place: consider carrying a squirt gun. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hallelujah Season

Autumn is busy tucking in the northland for a long winter's nap. We franchers* spent most of the summer prepping for winter. (On our place that means irrigating, haying, gardening, and fencing to manage pastures.) We still have much to do before the mercury plummets, but sublime working conditions and bountiful harvests make nearly every job a joy. 


"October is a hallelujah! reverberating in my body year-round...." ~John Nichols, The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Signs of the Times

Madam Winter crashed Lady Autumn's party.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." ~Hebrews 13:8 NKJV 

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Irrigating is fun and rewarding; unirrigating, much less so. 

Disconnecting nearly a mile of irrigation pipe--most of which are stuck tightly together with mud--is tough.  Loading the 170 unruly, bouncy, 55 to 85 pound, 30 foot long pipes onto the trailer is tough. Unloading and stacking them is tough. 

Sometimes I wonder if Hubby and I are tough enough for the job. We spread the work over several days, though, and we always pray first. (If we were much younger, the prayers wouldn't be so necessary.)

We're thankful for the pipe, and the strength to heave and hoist them, but we'd be even more grateful for a pivot sprinkler like the one across the canal.(Part of our neighbor's sprinkler can be seen in the top photo, if you squint.)

I wish Hubby still coached high school football. He could schedule workouts in our hayfields. 

"What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds." ~Will Rogers