Friday, January 18, 2013


A few significant events have happened around here since I last posted.

Okay, it's been more than a few. 

Fundamentally, not much is new. We're still ranching in the same place and have the same four kids. 

Those kids are now taller.


One of them graduated from the eighth grade, started high school, and now has a driver's license.


We bought some property in the Missouri River Breaks.


Most recently, we got broadband Internet through fiber optic cable, which makes blogging (and checking the weather and markets) a much less painful experience.

With a better Internet connection, our 15-year-old has been able to post his newest video project. He is enrolled in videography in 4-H, and he has made a couple of harvest videos in the past. His latest project, which you can see below, is about shipping calves. He has become an agvocate, promoting what we do and how we do it to those who might not understand. We're looking forward to what he will produce in the future.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Complicated

Around here, we seem to have a pattern of making our lives a little bit more complicated when things seem to be going well.

It started out when we were quite young. Instead of choosing city life with its predictable paychecks, reliable utilities service, and easy access to food and supplies, we moved to the middle of nowhere. Then we chose to turn our simple lives upside down by having a child. When we were blessed with the perfect family of one boy and one girl, a comfortable arrangement in a three-bedroom home, we added two more babies and stacked them up on bunkbeds. Our once tidy porch now resembles the end of the arena during a boot race event.

Our career choices have not been made with consideration for convenience, either. We once had jobs that offered health insurance and vacation time, but that was too easy for us. We chose to forego such security and instead subject ourselves to the whims of Mother Nature.

We could not remain content with simply farming, which allowed so much down time in the winter. Instead, we chose to diversify with cattle, which led to horses and hay and approximately 10 minutes of free time every two years or so. When our two geldings started getting along fairly well, we mixed things up by throwing a mare into the mix. The chickens were happy and laying well, so we bought a straight run of chicks that turned out to be 80 percent roosters.

Recently, we realized that life was becoming too manageable once again. The kids are old enough that they can be fairly self sufficient. I no longer need to hire a babysitter so I can mow the grass. We’re sleeping through the night consistently. When I leave the house, I don’t need to pack a diaper bag complete with toys and special food.

Naturally, this easy existence could not be tolerated for long. As soon as the demands of calving were over, we started to look for a way to make our lives more difficult. Our problem arrived in the form of a two-month-old mutt named Angus.


We are no longer burdened with several hours of consecutive sleep. We can no longer leave home without hiring a sitter or packing toys, food, and a change of clothes. The boot laden porch is a puppy paradise, stocked with every variety of leather chew toy that a dog could desire, while the store-bought dog toys lay abandoned in a heap.

While this is not the first puppy we have raised, we have discovered that our discipline is a bit softer than it was 15 years ago. The fourth puppy, much like the fourth child, is the beneficiary of privileges that its predecessors did not enjoy. The first puppies slept in a doghouse with an old blanket and had a sock with a knot tied in it for a toy. This puppy has a doghouse with a puppy pillow, several doggie toys, a box of doggie treats, a crate with yet another puppy pillow, and a shiny new collar and leash.


The previous dogs ate from an old frying pan and drank from the stock tanks at the corral. This dog has its very own special dual chambered food and water dish.  The dogs have never been allowed in the living room of our home, let alone on the furniture. This dog lounges on the couch watching TV with its master every night. In the morning, its expensive dog crate and pillow go unused while it snoozes between our pillows.

Many times, mostly at 3 a.m., I wonder what we were thinking by bringing this complication into our lives. But then the kids wake up and play with him in the backyard, and I remember. With each of these complications in life, we find new adventures and make new memories. Our choices may not have been made for our convenience, but in the long run, there are very few of them that I would have made differently.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Mountain Ride

I grew up in mountain country.


This was the view out my bedroom window at home. 

When I got married and moved 80 miles north, the mountains became a distant memory. In this Breaks country, the hills are inside out.


And while it's beautiful, it's just not the same.


The smells, the sounds, and the sky are different. 


So when I had the chance to help a friend gather cattle in the mountains last week, I jumped at it, even though the cattle were all yearlings. 

Gathering yearlings is similar to eating Jell-O with a toothpick. 


They have no clear sense of direction, and they have two gears: stop and go.


But nothing could keep me from enjoying my day in the mountains, especially since it was the same mountain range where I grew up.


Although I didn't pack a camera with me in the saddle, I did have one in the pickup, and I used a cell phone to snap a few pictures along the way.

Mostly, though, I was occupied trying to keep 138 heifers from bolting back into the timber.


My husband and his new horse, Jasper, were busy as well, along with the rest of the friends and neighbors that gathered on a beautiful fall day to tackle the task at hand.


It was a beautiful day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Really Good Reason for my Blogging Absence

This blog has been neglected for nine months, but I have a good excuse.

No, really.

Not only did I assume the role of the hired hand during calving and ride herd over the four kiddos all summer, but I also finished a project long overdue.

I'm sharing it here first:

My very first book, Down a Dirt Road: Reflections of a Farm Wife is now available. It contains 50 of my most popular columns as well as dozens of original photos spanning from my childhood to the present. 

You can order your copy by clicking here or by following the link on the upper right of this page. Within a few days, you can also order from

And now that it's finished, you can look forward to more frequent blog entries (it shouldn't be difficult to top two or three a year!). 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Almost Ready for Christmas

We are almost ready.

We decorated the tree (in our jammies, of course).

Each ornament was carefully placed.

Each child exclaimed over the ornaments as they took them out of the boxes, remembering who gave it to them and what it signified.

And Mom tried hard not to notice that she wasn't the only one who could reach the top of the tree this year.

The school Christmas program was performed.

Prayers were answered as lines were remembered.

Trombones were in tune.

Santa was besieged.

At church, the angels sang. And coughed.

Little ones sang of a baby in a manger. Actually, one little one sang. But they all looked cute.

Shepherds discussed the visit from the coughing angels while arguing over whose line came next and who got to hold the stuffed sheep.

Wise men persons, who looked vaguely like the shepherds from a previous scene, came from afar. They brought gold, frank and scents, and mire.

And the true meaning of Christmas was revealed in the form of two homeless people who wandered into the church, disrupted the program, turned out to be angels, and skipped several lines at the end, confusing each other and providing a healthy dose of comic relief.

The requisite photo in front of the tree was snapped after a series of cheesy grins, rolled eyes, grimaces, smirks, and glares.

And so, we're almost ready. There are cookies, fudge, and truffles. There are presents under the tree. There are completed Christmas crafts.

Now, all we need is a silent night. A night to reflect on the reason for all of this. A night to remember, to be mystified, and to brim over with joy.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and hoping that you, too, will enjoy a silent night in this holiday season.

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