puppies! 004

How cute is that face?

It’s pretty adorable. It doesn’t scream full-blooded Border collie though. We raise Border collie pups, usually. Only this time our momma dog became pregnant on her own. We hoped it was the closest neighbor’s Border collie that fathered them, but when they were born, they were awfully dark.

Mostly black.

Some Border collies have less coloring, we rationalized.

Don’t you love when you try to talk yourself into the answer you want instead of the answer you have?

Maybe they’ll look different as they get bigger, we quipped.

Yet they look like this at almost six weeks…

puppies! 007
Cuties! 1 red/chocolate color…4 blacks


Is that a little black lab I see? Our nearest neighbors confirmed they’d seen a black lab in the area–we just hadn’t seen him.

It’s a risk you run when you have an unfixed female. Yet it isn’t hoped for much. We really don’t have many neighbors–and by neighbors I mean people within a mile or more of us–no city neighborhood blocks. We didn’t anticipate it much because there isn’t that much traffic around here.

Yet things happen. These five oopses happens to be very mild tempered and sweet as candy. Some surprises are tolerated easier than others. Now I just have to find five lovely people who’d give these cuties good homes…


All Kinds of Cattle Crazy

compressed dog pic
One of our dogs is cattle crazy…the other isn’t. Can you guess which this one is?

Last spring, our daughter performed a poem at a school gathering. She picked Cow Attack by Baxter Black. Being a ranching family, we’ve always found Baxter Black’s poems to be all-too-funny.  While Baxter Black certainly has a knack for telling humorous tales, anyone who’s ever ranched also knows this: there is fodder for his material in agricultural living. If you’ve been around livestock, you’ll know a story about someone who’s roped a calf from the back of a truck or had their ranch dog embarrass them. Better yet, you’ve probably got your own stories. We do.

We started out cattle crazy because we knew what we’d like to accomplish, but didn’t have the upfront capital to accomplish it. We decided we’d do something with what we had rather than wait and do nothing. So we bought the ugliest, oldest, cheapest cattle, put them on rented pasture and concocted a mobile corral. Now our chute was pretty well given to us and our “corral” consisted of fencing material gained from WalMart. (It used to be around their garden center.) We are not proud of this, like I said, we simply decided to start somewhere. Well, the first cow we sent through that contraption entered the chute like a champ. We smiled. She snorted, not in refutation, just more like a cow sneeze/snort. Well, everything but the head catch fell off that chute and this big ol’ girl just stood there, the head catch stuck on her neck, looking at us like, “What do I do now?” This is when buying an old cow came in handy because she wasn’t surly cull material and she let us get that head catch off. It’s funny because it’s true.

Sometimes crazy cow things just happen.

Years ago my hubby and his friend drove by a fancy wedding (unintentionally of course) sporting a bloated bovine carcass on our flatbed with four legs straight in the air. The guests stared and my hubby drove by quick as he could without dropping her unwanted hide on the party.

Once we had a guy drive buy while we were working cattle and offered to help. On a Harley. Seriously? We politely explained the cattle and horses weren’t used to Harleys.

We’ve had handfuls of people offer to help us gather and such. Which is nice until they say things like “Yeah, I’d be a lot of help. My grandpa had a ranch I visited all the time.” We ask a few questions and find out the grandpa had five acres and ten rabbits. Sometimes conversations with people who think they know ranching can be humorous. For us anyway.

Recently though, on my way to a school function, I drove past one of our pastures only to see…nothing. Now, there weren’t many in the pasture, but there were pairs in it yesterday. I dropped the kids off and went back. I walked through the brush, found the mommas, and came up a barrow pit to see the calves on the other side of the fence…on the railroad tracks. Now, I was in my mom suburban, I didn’t have anything with me, but I couldn’t leave them on the tracks. So I circled around them and started moving them back towards their mommas. Now all cattle owners know that a calf can find a loose spot in the fence to get out, but they can never find it to get back in. The calves dropped down into the brush on the wrong side of the fence, but didn’t squeeze back through. So I started walking the tracks to push the group in the brush where I wanted them to go. A few popped through, but there’s always one or two… The last two challenged me, causing me to run the tracks while they frolicked through the brush one way, then the other, then back again, then the other way… Over and over. I finally got them on the right side, but it occurred to me that anyone driving by saw me dancing a jig on the tracks, while the calves themselves weren’t visible to anyone but me.

Yes, dancing on the tracks is my newest cattle crazy. But, we’ve brought calves in the house, gone to town covered in milk replacer (which I realized saying to town folk, “I’m covered in colostrum” might sound a little off, so I just looked dirty without excuses.) The kids have walked 4-H heifers through town, put hats on the animals, and fallen asleep in the barn. We’ve talked baby talk to a calf struggling for life. We’ve hooted and hollered and waved our arms dressed in our Sunday best because the cows always get out on the way to church (or on a date night). You just never know what someone will do who owns cattle.

I guess it is all okay though as long as you don’t go too crazy and buy goats to eat your weeds. I mean, you’ve never done that have you? Yeah, neither have we….

Who Am I? They say I’m a ranch wife…

one sunset, marci on horse 015

Here’s who I want to be: I want to be an amazing horseback rider, cattle entrapenuer, business woman, writer, friend, and encourager. I want to rope and drag without missing, load every shot gun with vaccine in record time, and have strength to wrestle calves. In my wild imagination, I’m Annie Oakley, Martha Stewart, and Sacagawea. I climb rough terrain, wrangle every last cow, and know exactly when to buy and when to sell.

Enter reality.

I’m really good at dreaming.

I’ve never roped and dragged anything. My riding skills are currently nil due to trepidation after a mishap awhile ago. My husband is the brains, brawn, and bravo behind most business deals. (I’m super proud of him; this is not said with angst.) The last calf I attempted to wrestle laughed at me. I haven’t shot a shotgun in years and my vaccine shotgun sticks frequently. My home is my peaceful refuge, but nothing Martha would endorse. My exploratory and navigational skills are top-notch–but only to scout out my kids or a good deal.

We recently watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. In the film, a man finds adventure only in his daydreams until circumstances arise that excite him to a point of actually embarking on adventure.

To some extent, I’m completely happy in my daydream land. I’m somewhat quiet and reserved, especially in agricultural circles. What if I say the wrong thing?

This is why I loved the idea of this ranch wife blog, but sometimes find it difficult to write it. I admire you Annie Oakleys, Martha Stewarts, and Sacagaweas of the west. I’m amazed by the skill of you women who ride and rope.

I enjoy cooking and studying market trends. I like giving vaccines. Although it sounds weird, my favorite thing in agriculture is to pray blessings over the land and cattle–mine and yours. I don’t rope. I don’t ride anything with more kick than a carousel horse.

For this, I’ve always felt inferior. Afraid to step out.

Then we moved to Idaho for a couple years. No one knew me, so I tried to put my best self forward. The only thing was I was afraid someone would find out my secret that I didn’t possess true ranch wife skills. I didn’t intend to hide it–I don’t believe in being fake–I just hoped it wouldn’t come up. (Is there a difference?)

During an Idaho Cattle Association meeting, I stepped out and attended the Cattlewoman’s Meeting. I didn’t know anyone, but found them all to be nice. At one point in the meeting, someone said something like, “We’re trying to reach all ranch wives. Some work out of the home to support the ranch. Others are outside with their husbands. Some are stay-at-home moms. Still others cook and clean, taking care of whatever they can to help their ranch.” My heart nearly stopped. You mean I didn’t have to be Annie Oakley, Prairie Woman, and Sacagawea? I could be me and still be a “ranch wife”? It was shortly after I started this blog.

The demons of doubt didn’t flee though. I struggled to keep writing because our ranch is minute compared to other places, my talents meek in comparison.

Yet, no one else can be me.

Friends, if you have ever found yourself in a similar arena–others’ talents mounting past your own, your worth fragile in comparison’s light–maybe we can help each other by reminding ourselves that who we are isn’t determined by who someone else is.

I’ll probably never gallop up steep hills like Jim Craig (The Man from Snowy River). Yet I’m willing to try and I love to bless. So friends, may our cattle increase, may our land produce. May new opportunities find us and solutions spill out of us. May love and gratitude be our foundation and evil never prosper. May good things happen in the agriculture industry. In Jesus Name, Amen.


Happy New Year!

East view
East view


It’s been too long…

I haven’t blogged for awhile. You will not find me offering polite excuses. We all have busy lives. What I will offer is the truth:

This fall was a struggle.

My mom is fighting cancer. I’ve had some health issues. Cattle prices dropped. More obstacles arose on this new place of ours…and so forth.

I didn’t know what to say without sounding like I was whining. So I said nothing at all. I’m not absent; I’m just climbing a few mountains.

After visiting with others, I realized something. I’m not alone. Many people closed the year 2015 feeling battered, bruised, and beat-up. Fortunately, we are not defined by our feelings. Hard times aren’t the end. Perhaps they are opportunities to re-route us.

We’ve been working hard trying to bring our place back to life. It’s now been just over a year since we purchased our fixer-upper and we’ve experienced multiple surprises. We knew there would be a lot of work to do, but the extent has been challenging. The financial output to fix things? Excessive. You just don’t know these things until you find indoor wiring buried outside or inadequate piping spewing geysers in December in an outdoor water-line or… I could go on, but the problems aren’t the point. I’m sure each of you could name off a list of your own battles.

The point now is: Where will I put my focus?

Challenges certainly overplay the negatives in life, so doing a 180 ought to point my nose to where I want to go. For example: poor or wrong supplies were used on our place. The fixing is frustrating, but it directs me to the obvious: the right tools must be used in the right places. Taking this a step further, our time and energy is more effective when we put our talents and skills into areas that will propel us forward.

I also want to focus on being thankful. Not only does thankfulness put my focus in a good place, but studies have shown successful people practice gratitude.

What are you thankful for?

I’m thankful for: my hubby and kids, all my family, amazing friends and neighbors, beautiful views, a place to call home, opportunities yet to come, increasing health, my writers group (plus words themselves!), sunsets, increasing daylight, the moisture we’ve received this winter, new ideas to try, LIFE, God-given perspectives, for being drained to empty so that I can be filled back up, for livestock, blueberries and coconut (and other yummy favorites), and so much more…

May each day in this New Year bring opportunity to see beauty and creative solutions!

I'm so thankful for my views!
I’m so thankful for my views!