Tag Archives: ranch

Firsts and Lasts

I’m not sure why, but firsts and lasts most always strike me after the fact. I want to hit back, but that sets a bad example.

A last glimpse of yesterday.

 

A first glimpse of today

 

If the forecast is right the last stove fire of the season.

 

Likely the last log for this winter

 

The first rays of sun today and a battery’s last morning ever 

 

Daybreak on the last load of winter brush

 

Our first signs of spring

 

“[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

 

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A Hazy Shade of Winter

All winter these trees captivated me. Neighbor and I searched, but this was the best angle.

 

Feels like the last firewood load this year.

 

Fog quickly blanketing a hillside in town against the morning chill

 

Late winter textures at the woodpile

 

The Mouser family eyeing NewGirl, the latest addition to the ranch. This could take a while.

“[God] directs the snow to fall on the earth and tells the rain to pour down. Then everyone stops working so they can watch his power. The wild animals take cover and stay inside their dens. The stormy wind comes from its chamber, and the driving winds bring the cold. God’s breath sends the ice, freezing wide expanses of water.” Job 37:6-10 (NLT)

Original A Hazy Shade of Winter by Simon and Garfunkel, but the new mix by The Bangles does it justice.

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Thaw – Walk #22

Here in our little corner of the Northwest we’re beginning to sense spring is near. My walk today was to the western rise of the north pasture and back. On the way I noticed even the ground seems to be awakening from winter rest.

Last year’s 70 Challenger project out of mothballs by sunrise.

Sunrise makes its way down the trees behind the shop.

Grounds around the pasture fence begin awakening.

 

Gravel foliage springs to life

 

Steely Dan the lawn art, weary of holding down tarps on the wood cribs.

 

  “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12 (NLT)

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Resignation

You know, Ol’ Man, this morning wasn’t as awful as I expected. For a few heartbeats I was angry with Cole for not calling me up last night, but I can’t stay mad at him.

“Ol Man” Scout in a happy, albeit inelegant moment.

I’ll bet you chuckled to yourself that way you do, on and off all night about how we want to change things up this year. I tortured you with my ideas, chattering the whole week before New Year’s. You have always been a good listener. I still have some more ideas to run by you, but that can wait.

Cole surprised me this morning slipping quietly in the door instead of his usual boisterous entrance. I started to tease him but stopped abruptly. I can’t remember exactly why. Perhaps it was the uncharacteristic way he held his coffee mug against his chest. I offered him the tropical green smoothie I’d intended to take up to the house to him – you know, changing things up – but I carried it to the door. Since you didn’t come in with him I went to open the door for you the way I always do.

I surprised myself asking Cole as I turned from him to the door,  “Did your roommate’s grandmother die?”

I never noticed how cold the metal of the doorknob is until I heard Cole respond, “No. Scout died.”

I turned on my heel gasping, feeling Brother’s pain more than mine. The Ol’ Man’s been my friend these five or so years, but he and Cole have been inseparable since Scout was a tiny pup. Silently, I held my face between my hands a moment to keep back the sob and the tears that surely wouldn’t help him that minute.

Cole tried to put a log I’d intended to take up to the main house in my little stove. I held my words until he clearly realized the log was beginning to smolder but wouldn’t fit. Then I said gently, “That one’s for your stove. Let me take it up.” He handed it over but continued staring into the fire.

I found you there where Cole laid you, on your travel blankets in the dining room. You looked peaceful, as if you were napping. I rubbed behind your ears and your throat remembering how we got to play yesterday under clear, blue skies on a perfectly comfortable winter day. It had been weeks since you felt up to playing, but yesterday you moved painlessly once again. You got to greet a new visitor and then we played some more just because the weather was so perfect.

This morning I let you rest when I saw NewOldFriend arrive. Like you, I like her very much too. Cole had already brought the quad up to the house to carry you and some tools. I walked around to tell the neighbor ladies you’d laid it all down and apologized for all the commotion so early in the day. I’m sure you know how they are also fond of you.

Certain the fair weather would not hold out, Duck and his nephew showed up with the back hoe. Ninety minutes later Cole finished packing rich topsoil back over that high spot in the north pasture with the tractor. We all felt we were finished and should go but we couldn’t. Then we heard the horses in the surrounding pastures begin to neigh and whinny, bobbing their heads in a country chorus. Then we said our good-byes too.

We solemnly returned to the main house. It wasn’t one of the rare occasions Scout stayed home alone and he didn’t greet us as if we’d been away for days rather than hours. We toasted our dearly beloved friend and a life well lived. Cole commented that from the kitchen window we can look out onto his spot in the pasture, near the youngest of the trees.

Later, the pasture drew me back before returning to my cottage. Without Scout along it felt colder and empty. I didn’t hear him approach, but as rain began to fall Hero the steer gently nosed me from behind. Taking that as him telling me to stop being a silly human, I returned to my cottage to reminisce on my time with Scout, our dear Ol’ Man.

Scout
September 2005 – January 4, 2018

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.”

Philippians 1:3 (NLT)

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Perseverence

All summer we talked about moving Darryl from the chicken house. Don’t ask me why, but late Saturday – after Cole and I cut a cord of wood – he walked toward the chicken house announcing he was evicting the rooster.  Having attempted catching Darryl weeks back (solely to remind him were snuggle buddies before he matured), I set out to help Brother.

 

As I anticipated, what would take a school boy moments took two grown adults far longer…

 

The following morning Darryl crowed from the hen yard.

We shall pray and further strategize relocating the rooster.

 

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Colossians 3:23 NLT

 

 

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Gibbs Smack

After the best Thanksgiving Day (all things considered), this morning I found myself having a tizzy fit. I don’t shop on Black Friday, so…

Usually by Thanksgiving Day here we can expect a light snow, rain, and Foehn or Chinook winds that keep the cold in check. This year it’s unseasonably warm.

So on Wednesday, though it was in the mid 50’s outdoors, my oven heated the cottage to 80 degrees.

Much more comfortable with the door open and fans running, I blasted Pandora mixes and danced around my kitchen like a boss. All the food prepared, ready to eat and/or deliver around dusk, I was ready for a quiet, relaxing weekend, just the Holy Ghost and me.

But this morning some buzzing at nearly every window stole my attention from my steaming chai latte and my reading. And if that wasn’t enough, the tiniest flying insect ever violated the airspace between my face and my screen.

Lemme just say here, coming in I realized that flies would challenge me. Horses within 50 yards of the doors, cattle nearby, dogs, numerous amazing-mouser felines, the oh-so-entertaining chicken house and compost piles – there will be flies. In case I never mentioned this before, the absence of flying insects is one of my favorite aspects of colder weather. Again, this year’s weather is unusual.

So, this morning I began to wonder if flies had contaminated the food I labored over… but I resisted that brand of crazy and read on:

“One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating…” Mark 7:1,2

“So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”” Mark 7:5 (NLT)

It’s a good story. But I admit:

in moments the buzzing captivated me again. Minutes later I was fully suited up, armed with flying insect spray, swatter, jump suit, goggles, mask, and hat…  With that I fully engaged.

A dozen or so casualties later, in the entire 800-plus square feet, two POWs were trapped between the screen and the sliding window and one eencie-teencie flying pest remained free. I showed him. I closed the laptop, got a hard copy Bible, another cup of chai and returned to what I’d been reading before the attack.

I’m not gonna lie here, though the near silence was nice (the POW’s were exercising their escape plan) – I was slightly annoyed by the smell of the insecticide. After a few minutes I put the mask back on (adding drops of eucalyptus and chrysanthemum oils).

I read on,

“Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” Mark 14, 15 (NLT)

 

 

These days more than ever before God’s generous, extravagant love amazes me. In the middle of studying the Master, the greatest Love of all teaching us, I had allowed my pet peeve to distract me and trip me up. And yet, He waits patiently until I returned to Him.

Unlike some bumbling, often well-meaning mortal/earthly fathers, instead of a rod or a Gibbs Smack, I now get a gentle hand. God grabs my attention and turns my head toward what really matters – no humiliating slap in the face. Flying insects aside – mostly – not even my wandering heart can separate me from God’s love.

So, now that I laid that burden down, what pet peeve can you whip into shape today?

“But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried over all these details! There is only one thing worth being worried about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41, 42 (NLT)

 

Roasted Butternut squash with pomegranate and citrus recipe courtesy Sangheeta Pradhan

NCIS Video clips courtesy YouTube

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One Week – Walk #21

Among Southeastern Washington State’s many attributes I adore its variety.  We have variety in variety. Routine quickly becomes tedium in my apartment, so this climate suits me.

The photos from the same week suggest spring, summer, fall and winter – and it’s barely mid fall.

7 days into my fall garden box:

Sweet Alyssum popping up between the fallen leaves:

Ducks ducking out on the Columbia River:

The Blue Bridge over the Columbia River from Columbia Park Trail ( Columbia River images (c) courtesy Julie Wetherby used by permission):

Yep. Snow.

Late morning sunlight glaring from the frozen tarps on the wood bins …

…before the rain returned…

Rain don’t bother Chex – photo taken from indoors ;>

Happy Walking, Bloggers!

“As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Genesis 8:22 (NLT)

 

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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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Pressed On – Walk #16

I awoke to peaceful quiet. In fact, a nano-second before steaming my latte I noticed the distinct absence of WordPress app notification sounds from my cell – on a new blog post day.

But the forecast is for 108 degrees (42.22 C), it is only day two of a new pasture routine, the hens are laying like they’re supposed to, and so I didn’t have a moment to look into it.

Four hours, six tiny, light brown eggs, and lots of fun and games later, I discovered I’d inadvertently scheduled the wrong publish date. {I sighed with a relieved, contented and slightly embarrassed smile}, Silly Ol’ Roo.

This morning’s antics

 

Ol’ Dog and I paused a moment to admire the neighbor’s haircut. Of course, out of earshot we snickered. Llamas can actually spit long distances.

Suzy has taken to swinging on the fence as the sun rises. When she falls on my side she’ll run to me even across the lot. Her squawking interpreted; “Did you see that! Am I great or what? I fully rock that stuff.”

Later Suzy couldn’t figure out how to get back in the chicken yard. She went in the tool shed door and the other hens (ahem) couldn’t open the coop gate for her. Poor, silly Suzy.

Suzy runs to me – likely admiring the teal flip flops.

Suzy was happy in my arms for a few minutes. She wasn’t upset – just chill…

Silly Suzy still trying to figure out the shiny-boxy-thingy.

 

Notice at no time are eggs ever laid in the nesting boxes:

 

Then on to games before it gets too hot

Follow the leader

Hide and seek

Simon Says

Finally we play Roo’s Done

 

“How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow his ways!  You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.  How joyful and prosperous you will be!” Psalm 128:1, 2 (NLT)

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Reason

I like to flow through my days thinking I control all the amazing things I do, that the astounding things happening in and around me are actually all about me. This fantasy is cheap entertainment, it rarely runs into overtime, and when it occasionally results in a rude thud into reality, it becomes blog fodder…

‘Fact is only God is that amazing. Were I indeed all that today, I wouldn’t be scary beyond all reason, especially to the livestock – hollering unprovoked – random bursts of upset – all day long. Today.

 

Genius that I am, in 2009, I nonchalantly lit a nice cigar. It was during an event, a rare occasion so I did’t think twice.

Weeks later my story was, smoking eased my pain better than the opiates my doctors prescribed and was cheaper than 75 year-old Oban. If I hadn’t grown up in rooms filled with Cuban cigar smoke (and sworn to secrecy), I’d still loathe cheap cigars. But in 2009 the embargo hadn’t been lifted yet, so that alone would keep me from forming a habit. “Yeah, that’ll work…”

But wait, there’s more: Thirty-two years ago I told my doctor, “I don’t have time to be sick…” Doctor replied very matter-of-factly, “Roo, you’ve had acute chronic bronchitis for ten months, been hospitalized twice. Now you can either keep smoking or keep breathing. Your call.” Quick as ever, a year later I finally stopped smoking.

In truth, if I were as amazing as I like to sometimes think, In 2009 I would never have toyed with lighting a cigar 25 years AFTER winning the battle of my life; stopping an 18 year, 3-pack/day smoking habit.

Yeah, that was me; sharp as a marble.

In a year I was smoking a pack of organic, sans additives cigarettes a week (because nicotine isn’t addictive). A few years later I was torching 12 – 14 packs a month.

Then I began vaping instead. “Seriously”, I told myself “this is best for everyone”, including my three new chain-smoking roommates (2 were siblings). Like most other bad habits, vaping began cheaply enough but grew to a roaring $76-plus a month habit – after purchasing the equipment – which breaks and wears out. Often. Seriously for real; that’s airfare and a nice hotel with the kids every year!

So, get it now! For the low-low price of only $8.17 per pack, you too can have it all. Start tarring your lungs and control that annoying nicotine addiction until it kills you. Meanwhile it will take every cent you were going to spend on that cruise with the kids next year.

Prices may vary and do not reflect the Sin Tax in The City or the costs of hiding the habit from the grand kids or your friends at church. Restrictions may apply and no one accepts any responsibility when you can no longer breathe on your own.

 

Reality Check:

The reason they call it a Sin Tax; we will pay for the indulgences we convince ourselves we need: tobacco/nicotine, alcohol, soda pop, gambling… ‘Fact is we actually live better without them.

This morning I stopped vaping. Once again my pillow and the treadmill are my best friends. As I become overwhelmed with confusion or disorientation, I scream into my pillow (so much better on the sweet, but lately very nervous chickens). If I come up for air soon, I then jog for a few minutes. Or I stay put and nap.

Hard as it seems in the present, this trauma actually only lasts for a few hours. Fine. A couple of days at worst. God has already brought me through far, far worse than this.

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NLT)

And each time I fight I win.

 

“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. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12, 13 (NLT)

 

The Emperors New Groove video clip courtesy YouTube

The Mask video clip courtesy YouTube

Rachel Platten Fight Song (Official Video) Courtesy YouTube

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