Tag Archives: cattle

Woo – Whee!

Many days I wonder if I’ll ever slow down and settle in – mostly when I’ve been writing about the three years before I arrived here at the ranch.

As I prepare to fly to Austin, Texas I say goodbye to the garden. Even though I’ll be away only a week, the end of the season is quickly approaching. Here days are shortening, nights and early mornings are cooling. The gelding and the steer are fluffing up with extra hair and the flowers seem desperate to soak in the sunshine while it lasts.

In Texas we’ll have almost three years to catch up on, so I expect to be road weary upon return. And then there’s that emotional roller coaster after another series of “see ya later” (we avoid saying “goodbye”). Perhaps after returning I’ll have a new perspective I’d missed before. And maybe by then I’ll have an even better grasp of why I must be so far from the rest of my heart again.

Though I can hardly wait to get there, thinking about the journey that brought me here seems appropriate.

From October 13, 2016:

Whew!

After a 28 hour turn-around for Cole, fifteen hours for me, I’m home. In my own cottage on my brother-from-another-mother‘s ranch.

No internet in my cottage yet, no TV or even radio and I have a whopping 2G cell service – from the middle of the north pasture when I visit the cattle and the mare. It’s really not all that bad…

 

Today.

While I’m still buried in boxes.

Once I unpack and set up I’ll shop for better options. For now I’ll take my time and catch up with me – it’s been a long, hard three years.

  

Try to not miss me too much. ❤

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23, 24 (NIV)

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Pastoral Peace

By late winter I began to look forward to warm weather and grass growing in the pastures. With some of my joints achy from the cold, tossing hay every morning and evening seemed less a pleasant stroll and more of a chore.

Being the steer’s first spring alone we weren’t sure what to expect from his grazing. Soon enough the grass was as tall as the sprinkler pipes. We are blessed with friends and neighbors who are glad to let their horses graze in our pastures and get the growth under control.

We learned very soon that, GeldingOne manages his stress from the move by running. In the tall grass he broke off three sprinklers in those first 48 hours. One pipe broke underground which complicated watering the seedling vegetable garden as well as the pasture.

The quickest solution:

    • Shut off and drain the irrigation sprinklers to repair them.
    • Cut the tall grass so the horse can see the pipes.
    • Run water to garden with hoses.

Then SouthernNeighbors lent us GeldingTwo.

GeldingTwo likes being the pasture boss and compliant GeldingOne is now calm and content with his new buddy and the steer. The pastoral peace restored, knowing their horses are in my loving care the two geldings’ humans can concentrate more on working their properties. If all goes as planned, Cole won’t need to mow again for months. Win-win-win.

For now, until Cole can repair the shattered pipe, Izzy and I haul hoses and lawn sprinklers around the vegetable garden and water tanks. Every. Single. Day. It’s time consuming and more than once I’ve been tempted to complain check Cole about his priorities. Fortunately, before inserting my foot into my mouth, as I walk the property back to my cottage I see everything from a different perspective and hold my peace.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NIV)”

But there’s more: Being around the gentle, nickering giants lifts my spirits and calms any anxieties that often tag along with me. The sounds of tails swooshing nearby, hooves touching ground (in case there’s an apple or carrot in a pocket) soothes me like little else does. Sure, I’m moving hoses and horses, chopping cheat grass, pulling tack weeds and thistle, but I’m also keeping my back, hips and knees in good working order – and who needs to count steps anymore…

Before I’m done watering the veggies I have a clear vision of where we must thin plants, hoe or pull weeds. As with most things in life, one hand washes the other. But God uses growing food and tending the livestock as a family to fuel my soul like nothing else ever.

Annnd the life lessons continue.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Images not captioned courtesy Pixabay

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Peaceful Pause

So, there it was, enough of a pause in the rain and the horrendous winds to allow the sunshine to dry the grass. It finally felt like a northwestern spring day.

Yeay!

All I wanted was to throw some weeds to the hens, a flake of alfalfa to the steer, mow the lawns, add the clippings on the compost pile and toss it, feed and water Izzy’s newly potted plants and then put my feet up to enjoy the sunshine and a late morning latte.

Was that really so much to ask?

 

 

 

 

Evidently it was.

A distant neighbor’s peacock insisted upon announcing his presence from what sounded like our yard.

Every. Five. Minutes.

Peacock’s can be ornery in the spring, so dogs and I searched.

Even from high in the nearest neighbor’s tree a scant quarter-mile away,  for miles around he sounded like he was in our yard.

 

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Once we solved the mystery of the clandestine peacock, ChiuyTwo understood the need for some peace and quiet.

 

 

 

 

 

GoodGirl and SchnauzerOne however had other ideas:

Finally after cleaning their paws on my freshly washed jeans, they decided they needed to rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:29, 39 (NIV)

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Mud

Do you ever experience that feeling before you actually wake, that you seriously need more rest? Do your eyes open reluctantly and you try not to think? But something nags at you, forcing you from that sweet, peaceful slumber?

The other morning I wasn’t fully awake, moreover thinking – anything. I’d stayed up later than usual praying for Harvey and Irma survivors and the rescue workers. Minutes after rolling out of bed, I stumbled toward the pastures, no water or caffeine -the first indication that something was off.

Sure enough, a beast had broken the capped-off sprinkler head in the dry lot.  The 90 minute cycles had ended some hours earlier, so the new mud bath covered the south half of the (formerly) dry lot and the ground was still wet clear past the chicken house.

Cattle don’t care much about mud. They’d seen me approaching so they’d passed the new mosh pit and were waiting at the pasture gate. As I swung the gate open they enthusiastically headed for the grass.

But despite being a passionate food fan, Kendra’s gray mare bobbed her head and impatiently trotted around the inner pen on the north side of the mud. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn she relates mud to the farrier’s visits. Regardless, she avoided the slippery mess that morning.

I doubled back, got a lead rope from the tack shed and walked toward the man gate to walk the mare around. Sensing I wasn’t my usual self, the mare circled the lot, swishing her tail defiantly. I watched her and yawned. Clearly neither the mare nor I were prepared for complications, and nothing was going the way it should. I couldn’t think but I managed to blurt out, “God, please.”

Finally the mare came back around to the “new pond” again and stopped.  Turning to face me she blinked those long eyelashes, bobbed her head down and raised it high again tossing her mane back and forth. Translated that’s, “This is not how I saw this morning going.”

Next she surprised me by stepping toward me – the opposite direction from the pasture gates – and stopped. I tossed the tie end of the rope over her neck and silently we walked together as though there was no rope, only out of habit I held the ends together. She paused as I threw open the man gate, then we went smoothly, effortlessly through, toward the wide gates and she went happily into the pasture.

Despite my brain fog we connected. God wins!

 

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

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A-Tack Day

It was the middle of a crazy, emotion-packed week. Too exhilarated from my drive to town in perfect weather, I couldn’t force myself back indoors yet.

The cloud bank to the west served to justify another walk for the morning; it could be a storm front coming in, so I headed to the pastures – to check on the livestock, of course.

Only one head rose up as I approached the main gate, but I was glad it was the gray mare grazing on the east side. Naturally her head went right back down into a patch of sweet grass, but her nod, acknowledging me once again filled me with wonder.

The cattle watched me dispassionately from the west end as I moved from the gate to the south pasture. The mare pretended to ignore me, and yet she repositioned her hooves – certainly taking more than one step away (only in case I was coming to bring her in) would have required more exertion. As I stepped closer she nickered as if she enjoyed teasing me. As she continued to munch a mouthful of grass uninterrupted, I shooed some flies away from her face and picked some straw from her mane. She thanked me by resting her head on my shoulder and with her head pulled me to her neck. I don’t care what equestrian experts call this, I consider it a horse hug.

One hand rubbed her chest between her forelegs, the other reached up and around to rub her neck and then her face. She hated that so much, except for her munching she stayed perfectly still while my hands moved over her.

Once again I felt like she understands these kinds of moments with her actually get me through my occasional bouts with loneliness.

Sufficiently stroked, I left her to walk briskly to the tree line at the back of the lot, opposite the cattle and then I turned back toward the gates. As I walked, the tiniest suggestion of yellow on the ground stopped me. I stepped in closer and confirmed my suspicions; a fresh crop of tack weeds had begun spreading out.

After losing my dearest canine companion to an infection caused by tack weed stickers, I developed a particular loathing for them. Here at the ranch we’ve been at war since this year’s thaw. I got a bucket, a large claw hammer and gloves from the tack room and set to digging the dastardly roots up.

Though I was glad for the perfect light the numbers and sizes of these new weeds surprised me. A shiver had just shot through me as I imagined a mean goat head sticker stabbing the mare’s soft lips, when I suddenly felt overshadowed.

From my periphery it seemed the neighbor’s bull had somehow gotten into our pasture, which for a heartbeat confused me. God and I have had a lifelong understanding about bulls (and rams); He keeps them away from me and I stay clear of them.

Instinctively I did not alter my slightest movement. However after another heartbeat, before I peeked out from under my hat, Hero, our 9-month-old calf let out a familiar low, soft moo. Immediately calm replaced all my concern. His 600-or-so pound self had silently grazed up to about six feet from me and was eyeing me curiously as he munched.

While I marveled over how much he’s grown in a week or two, I recalled Brother telling me if one sits still long enough, the calf will come close to investigate. That had been eight months ago. My next thought was whether this half-ton baby remembered me lassoing him a few weeks back. He was too calm for that and content to continue grazing close by me.

Then I wondered where Momma was, and if she remembers me bringing her flakes of hay and fresh water for the weeks the pastures rested. I felt no alarm or concern about anything but the tack weeds.

After a few more minutes there was no sign of the malefactors outside my bucket. I slowly stood and stretched, eyes still scanning over the grounds.

Hero watched from about three feet away by then, but didn’t startle or miss a nibble. Momma looked up for a moment but her head went right back down. Mare went right on munching inches from where I left her. The neighbor’s bull, by the way, continued laying on his side of the fence and the hot wires. I marveled at how I often have trouble seeing my computer screen clearly, and yet I can spot a fly by a cow’s eye or a tack weed from yards away.

Satisfied and sufficiently stretched for the day, I walked toward the gate. Mare bounced her head as I went on without her. I remembered a favorite story about a fair summer day, a newly acquired mare lay laying contentedly in the grass with her person…

As I continued on I thanked God for these peaceful moments and again for bringing me here.

What a delight being able to lose myself out in the open; to be unconcerned, unintimidated and unaware of anything but God’s presence and my 5 physical senses. A tear was slipping down my face when the adolescent rooster crowed – yeah, at noon, bringing my focus back to the present.

By then I was completely relaxed and content in the present time. I happily returned to my work.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.”

Psalm 23:1,2 (NLT)

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Wonder – Walk #15

The world is indeed wonderful.

Looking at the beautiful bull in the next pasture, I wonder about their mean reputation. He can nap anywhere in his pasture, but he likes lounging, practically nose to nose with our calf (the wire fence between them), naturally Momma stays very nearby .

The sweet, beautiful bull next door.

 

Ewe, the bull and a lamb.

 

Girlfriend willing me to open the gate

 

After Pepper passed through the open gate, the hot wire dragging her back, to get to the fresh, green grass, I didn’t have the heart to bring them back in.

 

The four-month-old “Rockers” thanking me for the fresh greens.

 

Ever vigilant “Dog” keeping watch.

I also wondered why all the goats are gone from the neighbor’s pasture. Then again, they had a huge barbecue last month. 😉

 

“O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24 (NLT)

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Neck Up Check Up

I’ll just say it; I crack me up.

This morning began even earlier than usual for me. It’s hot, so I didn’t sleep as well as I typically do. I rolled out of bed thanking God for another day with Him. But soon I grumbled and complained about the dead bugs here and there from the summer’s quarterly spraying. Disgusted, I tied a frozen bandanna around my neck and stepped outside.

Instead of heading for the pastures first as I usually do, I walked toward the front yard and the gardens. It didn’t occur to me that the cattle and the mare would notice me in the pre-dawn light. They did. Loudly. Their calls to me actually warm my heart most days, but it was very early. Silly me, I worried the premature noise might disturb the neighbors – the nearest one being too far to hear. After I walked the other way, out of sight they quieted back down quickly.

I adore growing my own food. Over the weekend we’d placed Sevin baits to help reduce the earwig overpopulation. Still finding the live, slithering masses under everything I touched (checking for squash bugs or eggs) annoyed me. So did the screen door banging against the planter – someone left it open after using the grill the night before. As the first sun beams streaked across the tree trunks I felt taken for granted noticing the empty bird feeders. Poor, poor, pitiful me.

Clearly I desperately needed coffee.

Once the coffee began pumping I felt revived and happier with the world. I followed the cattle to the pasture to see how the new controller program I’d set the day before went. That was a long process in itself: find a manual on line, find the information I needed rather than read every jot and tittle about the device, hand write the step-by-step instructions (of course the printer cartridge emptied at that particular moment, and forget a WiFi signal in the metal barn), walk back to the cottage for a flashlight since the new lights in the barn aren’t connected yet… I already had half my daily steps in.

Then I noticed two swamp spots in the first sprinkler zone – yep, the cow’s knocked off two more sprinkler heads so the water pooled around a two-yard radius instead of the 20 yard circles they should have soaked. Stupid cow.

I shot a text off to Brother reminding him to bring more replacement heads home with him and headed back to my desk. I pulled fresh weeds to feed the chickens – killing two birds with one stone (the young hens will just have to get over that expression – or start laying soon).

Within minutes at my desk, my brand new wireless keyboard had me wanting to punch something. Does anyone actually use F keys instead of hot keys? How is learning to stretch the fingers higher better than CTL+S, CTL+A, CTL+C, CTL+V, etc? I literally walked away after the fifth or sixth time a Save As dialogue box popped up rather than the cursor back spacing over yet another key error. Grrr… And I saved to buy this device for months!

The sound of Old Dog sniffing around my open door was all it took to push me over my threshold. Time for a walk.

Before we’d walked fifty yards I noticed Senior Neighbor Lady waving her arms and calling me. Walking past our three dogs noisily engaging in their daily fence fight I finally heard her tell me, “Honey, I don’t have my hearing aids in and couldn’t hear what you were yelling to me.”  Hmmm… I only waved hello as I do every morning – usually two hours later.

I easily find patience with seniors – sowing what I hope to reap, so I hugged her and wished her a nice day.

As Dog and I rounded the first bend in the road, I heard what sounded like angry voices nearby. Dog paused, his aging ears pointed toward the source of the sound. It appeared one half of a young couple was loading a pick-up truck bed and the other half was getting her wounded, parting words out. He wordlessly pulled items out of the pile she’d created next to the garbage can before the collection truck arrived.

Been there, done that. I prayed.

I continued to pray as we continued our walk. Dog doesn’t mind – he can’t hear my lower register anyway. God does.

As we headed back up our driveway I noticed the fruits of my labors in the pretty, colorful, well-trimmed yards, and the unmistakably peaceful atmosphere of the place. Yeah, the lots between the main house and the pastures seem chaotic, but that’s what Brother’s business going in good a direction looks like.

I realized how silly I’d been earlier. Though I never expected to be unmarried, my life now is what I’ve always hoped and wished for. Despite the daily annoyances that are certain to arise as I learn about ranch life, with such a benefactor as Brother, my life has become a story I want to write. Most important, I realized how quickly I suffer for discounting my relationship with God.

Today I’m humbled recalling one of Daddy’s iconic expressions, “How soon we forget.”

Today I’m grateful for the reminder to never step out the door before prayer time – or without my latte.

Now I’m off to get the rest of my steps in before it’s too hot!

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)

 

Image courtesy MemeGenerator.net.

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Renewed

Throughout the holiday season I noticed some people saying, “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays” and “Happy New Year.” I also noticed how sometimes it seemed mechanical, like a thoughtless, knee-jerk action.

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It was me. With winter closing in I’d been feeling depressed. Although I had been missing the company of my sons and other siblings, I was far from sad or unhappy. I was experiencing a bio-chemical imbalance. Today I’m blessed to be able to correct that with diet, exercise and therapy. Today I pray fervently for many people I know who need more help.

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Today in my cozy little cottage my happiness is unmistakable. Sure, yesterday I didn’t bring in wood for the upcoming week as I’d planned, and then about 4 inches of snow fell as the New Year rolled in. But the wood cribs are loaded with kindling and small logs to get us through until the snowfall lets up.

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Last year I could only imagine the happiness and hope in my life today. For years I stubbornly held tight to my beliefs that God loves me even though I felt alone and lonely – I couldn’t imagine thinking about firewood. Today those hopes are realized, my faith and hopes are marvelously evidenced.

Last year hard times had Roan, Opal and I trudging along step-by-step, each of us hoping our lives could be different.

Last year I’d sigh hearing young people voice their personal dreams. I’d experienced too much disappointment to encourage them. I fell silent. Today I smile and help them so their dreams continue to grow. Last year, when I’d all but buried my hopes, my nearly-vanished dream suddenly came vividly true.

Today a new year began in my new reality.

Now I sip my latte watching the snow gently falling on the pastures. This is my dream come true. However, excuse me for a little while, I need both hands to pull my pasture boots on and feed the livestock.

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Thanks God!

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.”

Jeremiah 17:7,8 (NLT)

 

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Hi-Brow Find

God blessed me with pleasing blonde hair. Okay, it’s actually strawberry-blonde-gone-silver. Fine, it’s gray in some light.
Cursed fluorescents.

Roo 1981

 

My  eyebrows however are less fetching. Not only are they not detectable outside strong sunlight, they’re also asymmetrical. Worse yet, summer colors, especially any shade of yellow drains all color from my skin.

Ah, vanity. My life has been a cosmetic adventure. How I wish I could regain the time spent penciling and brushing in combined color products that just aren’t right.

Erin introducing me to L’Oreal Stylist Plumper Brow Gel changed my world. Well, that and returning home.

A genuine magic wand

A genuine magic wand

The Back Story:  On my first night home I crashed hard on the sofa in the main house. I typically shower before retiring but on rare occasions I’m too tired. Waking that first morning I was amazed to find my brows entirely intact with the previous day’s makeup. Seriously, we sat in the truck for 12 hours stopping twice for fuel, etc.

Aware of the steady stream of people on the property and anxious to get the day’s hard labor behind me, I wiped a cleansing cloth around my face leaving brows perfectly intact. I was impressed how my yesterday’s face remained my secret until nearly noon when we took a break from unloading for lunch. And for me, bathing.

For the next week, as we hauled items and I rearranged my “cottage,” my aching feet hit the floor running and I practically passed out at night. I appreciated my unretouched brows in the morning. Truth be told, I quickly mastered the art of washing without removing the gel, making it last up to 36 hours. Fine; 56 hours so far. I know; gross. Cole leaves before I’m out and about and his help or customers rarely see me. My dirty little secret is secure.

Annnd then with the cooler weather Cole activated the heater in the paint shop. The extremely, incredibly, really loud blower motor is mounted on the wall that separates my headboard, pillows and wall from the fan. I learned that first cold night that it restarts every 30 – 90 minutes. All. Night. Long.

On the second cold night Cole had repaired the offending heater fan. I again crashed hard into bed again, brow gel and all. After sleeping soundly every night for weeks, imagine my disappointment seeing the mirror the next morning; one brow rubbed onto my pillow slip and the other in patchy disarray.

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Even so, after soap and water, a brisk brush of the teeth, four swipes of the tiny gel brush, and a tie in my hair I’m out the door, soy latte breakfast and all.

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The mare, the cows and the calf are glad to see me just after dawn. I’m sure they’re impressed by my perfect eyebrows, not the hay, alfalfa and grain.

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”

Philippians 4:11, 12 (NLT)

 

Cartoon image courtesy Pinterest
L’Oreal Image courtesy Amazon

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Good Call

My family observes Veterans Day with deep gratitude, heartfelt prayer, tribute posts to Facebook, visiting cemeteries and revisiting photos of the valiant service members throughout our family branches (including my dad, brother, three of my offspring, Cole…). At sunset the typical gathering of friends and visitors silently, reverently saluted the flag in honor of our veterans.

pasture-femmes

Feeling a bit drained I decided to recline with a DVD for the later part of the evening, American Sniper. But minutes into it Roommate and Cole burst through the door, the former giddily declaring, “We have a calf!”

Jumping up from the couch, I grabbed my jacket, was on their heels, out the door and westbound toward the paddock. Cole had already moved the mare and the 3-year-old steer to the south pasture. The cows furtively chomped alfalfa while eyeing the newborn calf resting comfortably a few yards away.

Cole wandered off to points east while I ooh and aah-ed over the new arrival. Wrapping our coats more tightly around ourselves, Roommate thought aloud, “How funny; weeks of great weather and she waited to birth on a foggy Veteran’s Day.” I replied, “So, what will we call him ?”

After a nano-second pause, Roommate said, “Hero.”

“Bam,” I replied. Much fist bumping, oohs and ahhs ensued.

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“The Lord your God will bless you as He has promised.” Deuteronomy 15:6 (NLT)

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