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!). 

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