Simple Joy

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Cows have personalities. That’s why I love this picture.

These girls have really gotten friendly during feeding season. I’ve patted their backs even.

When I go out to feed, we cut the net wrap off the bales before we unroll them and these girls are eager to get the first few bites.

These cows don’t push on me and they aren’t rude, they’re just there, ready to eat as soon as possible. They seem to enjoy life and they don’t care who is watching them. They don’t even notice they’ve got food all over their chins.

They’re purely content.

Granted, animals are simpler than humans in many ways, but watching the cows is a blessing because it reminds me to keep life simple.

It’s easy to over complicate.

Perhaps it’s too many plans in the schedule or relationships that require more attention than anticipated. Maybe we complicate life with our thoughts–worrying about what other people think or accidentally gravitating towards performance rather than authentic living. So many factors filter into overcomplicating.

Cows just live.

They soak in the sun. They eat when they’re hungry; they drink when they’re thirsty. They rely on us to bring them food when it’s not available to forage.

The simple life.

I long for simplicity.

Snapping this photo of these girls is a fun reminder to keep life simple. To me, they look happy, uninhibited. May we all proceed with sincere joy in life’s simple moments–they often remind us of what matters and what doesn’t.

What reminds you of simplicity?




Ranch Hibernation


I’ve been in hibernation mode.

It’s snowing. It’s the last day of February and we’ve had sub-zero temps for a good part of the month and a fair amount of snowfall. I’m thankful for the precipitation after last summer’s drought. We need it. I hope we get rain this spring. However, it does make a person want to hibernate. Or fly south.

The cows tolerate the weather fine, although they eat more with the harsh temps. We even had a big surprise–a cow that was preg tested to calve in April calved a couple weeks ago! A nice big steer calf!

The record keeping part of me is embarrassed; how did this happen? We are better cattleman than this. However, it’s a fairly new-to-us cow, so she could’ve calved early last year and rebred right away. (Plus, we didn’t do the preg checking.) The other part of me is excited because I love seeing new life and watching the babies reminds me what this life is really all about.

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Sometimes we need the reminder.

Ranching is tiring. Around the clock care. Always on call. Surprises. It is the simplicity and joy of this life that keep us on track with the call we have to live like this. We love it, but I think it’s time for a vacation.

Since that isn’t going to happen right now, I feel like hibernating. I’m working in the house and I’m not being lazy, but I am enjoying some excess netflixing as time allows.

In our fast paced culture, it is hard to go against the flow and slow down. However, I think slowing down is needed in order to appreciate all the small gifts we are given each day. If we rush constantly, we miss the bird on the windowsill, the brilliant sunset, or the fog hovering over still water.


I haven’t totally figured out how to be slower paced in a fast paced culture–especially since ranching, working other jobs, and having kids (high school is busy!) keeps us hopping. That’s why sometimes I just feel the need for a time-out, a hibernation. Take care and rest up this winter! Irrigating is coming!

A Rancher’s Valentine..

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

On Valentine’s Day, you might be surprised by a box of chocolates or a rose…which are wonderful. If you’ve ever dated a cowboy though, you know Valentine’s gifts may not be ordinary . Cowboys are hardworking. Many a cowboy remembers Valentine’s Day because it is usually when he puts in a fuel order. Cowboy Valentine’s might look a little different:

You may get a new shot gun–as in the vaccine kind.

He may give you a swig of his favorite drink.

Your cowboy may try to get you to touch his hat–which means you owe him a kiss.

Men in boots sometimes present poems… That they wrote themselves:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Your eyes glisten more,

Than dew on cow’s poo poo.


Really girls, there are many ways a cowboy will love you…but I’m telling you this: if a cowboy gives you his time, he’s giving you one of his most precious commodities. The movies may show ranching as romantic, but we know it is a lot of work. A lot. So when your cowboy moves things around in his schedule, when he doesn’t jump to the computer to check the market reports or read a good article, when he includes you and makes time for you…that’s a Valentine’s gift.

Friendship, love, relationships…they aren’t made in the wrapped present. (Although they are nice!) Authentic connection happens in the small moments: sharing the newspaper, playing a game, walking out to check the heifers…trust happens in the details that revolve around each day. Maybe you watch the sunset, maybe you commiserate after a loss, perhaps you watch a movie because you’re tired…

However you share your Valentine’s Day, be thankful for time together. If you’re lucky, your cowboy may even let you drive the feed truck and you know what that means!!!—He’ll have to open the gates!

**Just a shout out to my cowboy…who remembered Valentine’s Day and got me a nice gift! I’m thankful!

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I’m in the driver’s seat…looking at a new calf. He’s quite a bit early for us, but he’s healthy!




Time Drainer… How to hold on to time


I’m in the kitchen cooking supper and I’m wondering where my day went.

Sure seemed busy.

Things were accomplished: laundry, cleaning, phone calls, writing, feeding cows, chores, but where did the time really go?

If it were an object gone missing, like my son’s pocket knife, I’d look under couch cushions, stick my hands in coat pockets, and poke my head in odd places–like behind the commode or inside a the dog food sack.

Time hasn’t gone missing though–it’s there, it just passes quickly when I’m not looking. Even when I’m conscious of it, it slips through my fingers. In years past, I’ve been angry about it. Frustrated. Where did my hours go? I’m trying to get my to-do list done!

Yesterday I’m sitting at the computer getting ready to write and the Lord’s voice whispers, “Time isn’t an enemy. It’s a gift.” I pause. I’m not sure what to say… Or do. I don’t do anything and my muscles relax.

I breathe that in like the aroma of coffee or tea and let it sink it. Time is a gift.




Here I’d been trying to lasso it, wrangle it, or run it into a corral to keep it locked up. I’d been trying to wrestle time and instead it’s been wrestling me.

Here’s my new plan:

*Take the first moments I’m awake to be thankful for the day and pray.

*Make a to-do list and proceed in an order that fits around scheduled blocks of time in my day, but be flexible.

*Be present. I’m trying to be in the moment, rather than jumping ahead in my brain to the next thing that has to be done before my body even gets there.

*Stop. When things aren’t working, stop and go to something else.

*Make time for truly important adventures. Time with kids. Date nights with my cowboy.

*Countdown. I need time to decompress after the day and relax before heading to bed.

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Each of us will find different ways to make our days precious. However that happens, it’s a delight to know that time is not against us, it is a gift.


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Happy girls at the feed line.

How do you feel when you see other people?

We’ve been feeding cattle in a pasture not too far from our house. In years past, we’ve winter ranged, providing supplementation for cattle, but allowing them to forage during the winter months. This year, after drought and then high levels of snow early on in the year, we are feeding hay to our critters. It means extra time every day. It means planning around feeding time. But it also means that every day, the cattle are so glad to see us.

They start gathering before feeding time. They wait by the gate for us to pull through. They are getting plenty to eat–there’s usually a bit of leftovers in the field–they are just ready for the fresh food for the day. (There’s a balance in feeding–you don’t want too much leftover because it’ll be wasted, but you don’t want them hungry either. We calculate pounds of feed per day per animal.)

Cows will rub their backs on the truck as we are slowly rolling along forking off hay. We can even scratch their heads. Cattle aren’t necessarily wild, but they aren’t naturally domestic either. Our kids have 4-H steers and a heifer they work with regularly, so they are often like a dog on a leash. However, our range cattle, while not wild, aren’t usually the type to just walk up to you and let you scratch them. Feeding changes the dynamics a bit.

Do you remember as a kid the smell of the kitchen when a parent or grandparent made cookies? Maybe you still think about a favorite meal you had…usually you’ll remember who made it or who was with you when you ate it. Cattle tend to associate people the same way. They remember the food and it makes them more relaxed because they know you’re bringing them something good. The opposite is also true. Do you remember someone who always yelled? Maybe even at you? Cattle remember those types of situations too. They definitely act in accordance to their environment.

We too react, engage, or disengage based on the atmosphere. If you know someone doesn’t like you and you see that person, hopefully you’ll be cordial, but it’s not likely you’ll strike up a long conversation or make weekend plans together.

Watching our cattle’s joy at seeing us bringing them food made me think: What if I treated people that way? I know, it’d be weird to hand out food. I don’t mean that.

What if people knew I was happy to see them?

What if I showed genuine care?

Showing genuine care is a goal I’ve had for awhile, but sometimes time crunches and fatigue have gotten the better of me and I haven’t done it. Sometimes I feel self-conscious.

We humans are on a journey together. We are sharing experiences, be it through on-line connection or daily interactions. We have people we encounter that are easy to talk to and some people whom we have to work at conversation. Yet I truly am thankful for the people in my life.

I’m thankful for each and every one.

Since I am thankful, I’m going to work at showing you I’m happy to see you. I may not always get it right, but hopefully you’ll know that your life is important. You aren’t an accident. Someone sees you. Someone cares how your day is going.

The cows may not ruminate (bad pun!) on human interaction like I do, but we do have something in common: We are happy to see you!



Happy New Year! Leaving the old and walking into the new…

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Feeding the steers.

I’ve always loved the symbolism attached to New Years. New beginnings. New hope. I’ve often hung my hat on new things happening as December 31st turned over to January 1st.

The practical side of me says it’s just another day. Really it is. But there is a hope on New Years that things will be just that: new.

Yet isn’t every day a new beginning? Why doesn’t March 1st–or any other day of the year–feel like a fresh start?


I think it has everything to do with my perspective.

The reality is that as one year changes to the next, we all hope for something fresh, but most of us–myself included–still bring everything old right into the new.

I believe our pasts are never wasted, but I also believe they don’t have to define the future. Just because I was hurt, doesn’t mean I need to stay hurt. The things of the past may have brought structure or plot twists, but we are only defined by that which we allow.

Will we allow the hurts, unforgiveness, or betrayals to define who we will be? Or maybe we’ve had great success: will our identity be wrapped up in our accomplishments?

2017 wrapped up an extremely difficult time for us. If you’ve read previous posts, you’ll know we encountered drought so severe (despite doing everything possible!) that it affected the health of our cattle. Of course it affected the pocket book, but when you’ve been entrusted to care for something and everything you did just wasn’t enough…it’s heart wrenching. However, tough situations usually lead to deep thinking and intense prayer, so it wasn’t wasted. There is much good that is beginning to come out of this situation: my husband and I are communicating better. Our kids know we welcome their ideas. Our family has pulled closer together. We’ve met new people. We’re looking at things differently and seeking creative solutions.

We were never meant to just feed cows and let them grow. Those are byproducts of being called to bless land, animals, and people. We want land to be better, more fruitful, after we’ve been on it. We want to bless the people around us. We want our animals to thrive.

Only God knows what 2018 will bring and I will trust Him in it. But as I walk into this first day, I’m choosing to toss some baggage, some old thinking and welcome the newness of this fresh start. A new year comes in winter, which is also refreshing. Yes, there is feeding and chores each day, but the land is resting. It is waiting. May our new beginning also we a time of resting and waiting and then proceeding in natural progression.

Blessings my friends!

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The beauty of land resting for the winter.

Scene Change! When a Surprising Plot Twist Touches Ranching…


Scene Change!

In the movies you barely see sweaty horses, even though they’ve traveled umpteen miles… Guns are full of bullets, no matter how many rounds have been fired. The guy always gets the girl or vice versa.

From the beginning of the show climax is building. There’s a problem to overcome, usually multiple problems, with endless obstacles. The viewer often wants to shout, “Don’t open that door!” What happens though? The main character opens the door and yet another issue pops up.

At the height of the conflict, when the climax can’t get any bigger, that’s when resolution enters. Resolution brings us to the end of the movie where we get to see what happens.

Wouldn’t that be nice in life?

Counselors have said that one of the problems with our modern culture is that we are too anticipatory of immediate or quick coming answers to situational problems. We are used to a conclusion in two hours like the movies or a fast romance where relational issues resolve in minutes.

Life isn’t like that.

It certainly isn’t like that on a ranch.

We’ve all ridden the rollercoaster to the top when cattle prices were high. We’ve plunked down to the bottom when they were low. We’ve ridden loops with a sudden calf death. We’ve zipped up with twins that thrive.

This past week we had a crushing blow to our ranch.

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Uncertainly looms: Do we stay or do we go? Do we press forward in this agricultural lifestyle? Or do we move to town? (Don’t judge me, if you’ve ranched longer than 5 minutes, you’ve had this thought too.) What is the next best step?

Last December we leased a large piece of property. Our agreement stated there was enough feed and water for 500 head. We put 225 head in there for the first year until we were familiar with the place. As it turns out, the springs (which were full when we toured the property) only put out a fraction of what was expected. So all summer we lacked water and worked tirelessly to keep them alive, all the while hoping the cows would thrive. We thought we’d made it. Until we preg checked.


Forty percent.


That’s the amount of opens we had. We’ve been doing this many years and never had more than 2% be open. It’s embarrassing. We want to hide the truth and pretend our herd did awesome.

Our preg checker (who happens to have an advanced degree in bovine reproduction) said it was due to a huge amount of stress during the breeding season. This confirmed what my hubby thought (who also has an advanced degree, plus oodles of experience). Which was? Water. The stress of low water.

Ughh. We could’ve pulled out this summer, but where would we go? With the fire season in Montana, all the grass had burned up or was taken. Plus, we always want to honor our end of the contract and stay the course. The owners didn’t know it would work out this way. We couldn’t haul water to this place because of its remote location and the immense volume needed for 225 cows. (Each cow drinks 30 gallons a day in the summer!)

Scene change! Please?

Isn’t this where it all works out and oops, we made a mistake, they actually are bred? Isn’t this where superman swoops in and implants embryos?


Not so much in real life.

What’s next then? We don’t know.

Ultimately we are called to be stewards of the land and care takers of the animals. We tend what we have with unwavering care. It isn’t the animals’ fault and if we could’ve changed this past summer or done it any better, we would have.

We may not get a scene change or a fresh horse. We do get long hours with little pay, but it can’t change us. We might cry. Yet somehow we will move on–just like all of the folks that lost their herds, homes, and land in fires. Agriculture has to continue. It isn’t an option.

What does this mean for us? It means we have a front-lines view of hard hits in agriculture. It can be an unforgiving business. It means we creatively pursue the future with prayer. It means we proceed with positivity. It means we choose joy despite our circumstances because circumstances vary.

It’ll be okay.

We believe that nothing is ever wasted. Not our tears, not our pain, not our hurts. We trust that God will show us where to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes the hardest things we go through lead to change we needed to choose, but wouldn’t have chosen otherwise. Sometimes it brings us to a sweet spot we didn’t know existed.

We’re in this together. Keep moving forward!

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DON’T COMPARE! There is no other you.

This is a continuation of last week’s blog. Sort of.

Last time I threw out my vulnerability in a blog. I had a day when I felt I wouldn’t measure up. This isn’t the norm, but I had a moment and wanted to use what was really happening: Comparison. When I look at other ranch wives, am I good enough?

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I didn’t do it because I’m depressed or insecure. (I used to be years ago, but that’s a blog entry for another day.)

I didn’t share because I felt inadequate, although it has happened before.

I shared because recently I’ve heard a lot of women and girls talk about how they couldn’t do something because someone else was better than them. I’m sure we all feel that way sometimes, but we should never let that drive our actions. I was hoping that by sharing what I felt, it might change something.

When things are shared, their power is often broken–like a secret that’s no longer a secret. We are all in this humanity boat together and I can’t imagine there is a single person who hasn’t compared themselves to someone else and fallen short.

I wanted to share the reality of comparison in the hopes that by being real, its power would be broken. I desire to be authentic and raw because I just can’t do fake. It’s exhausting.

Lisa Bevere in her book, “Without Rival”, states, “In life there are no neat categories. Life at its best is messy. The truth is that everyone’s life is much more complex than what we see.” She speaks of the dangers of classifying people.*

Classifying people (in my mind) puts them in places they may never want to be. In school there are popular groups and if you aren’t in the popular group the message is…well, you just aren’t as good. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There aren’t people who are better than anyone else. We are all human.

There are people who are more driven. People who work hard. People who love one activity more than another. But at each of our cores? Human.

Why do we do it then? Why do we compare?

My belief is that we do it to belong.

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We were created for relationship. Humans long to have a place to belong–a place where they feel comfortable and “fit in”. When we look at others, sometimes it is simply trying to figure out our place. “Is this person someone I feel good being around?” We don’t have to share the same interests or have the same opinions to befriend someone, but our closest friends will be the ones who know the true us, our authentic selves. These are people with whom we must feel safe. My circle of friends I go to bat for, stand up for, and I know they’ll do the same for me. I can’t compare myself to them. They need me to be me and I need them to be them.

The same is true for others outside our inner circle. Not everyone will be safe. Not everyone will understand you. I know people who don’t understand me. That doesn’t mean I mold myself to what they need me to be. It doesn’t mean I hide from them either. It means that I hold on to my identity and be me. Without comparing. Without measuring my talent against theirs. We all have strengths and weaknesses and they aren’t going to be the same as someone else’s.

My friends, ranch wives and city friends alike, you and I were made for a purpose. There is much we CAN accomplish. It will never be fulfilling through the eyes of comparison.

Let’s stay strong. Life isn’t easy. But I’m so glad we’re in it together.


*Lisa Bevere’s book is a great read for Christian women looking to embrace their identity.

WHO AM I? Confronting the ME I want to be…

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Recently I’ve felt uncertain of myself.

More than likely, it’s because I’ve been out of my comfort zone. I’ve had to do things in the past six months that I’ve never done. I’ve even had to pretend I was stronger than I really am.

Here’s the deal: I am a ranch wife and there are things that happen here that don’t happen anywhere else. There is laundry that needs to be washed, re-washed, and the machine disinfected. There are bizarre injuries, land issues that couldn’t be dreamed of, and I…


Well, I feel inadequate. I’ve seen other ranch wives who take pictures of solutions they thought of in less than one second. I’ve tasted perfect dishes that when I ask for the recipe I hear, “Oh, a little of this and a little of that…” As if they never had to try. I’ve seen ranch wives throw on their husband’s flannel shirt and a pair of jeans first thing in the morning and look like they could be ready for a cover shoot. I’ve watched amazing women saddle up and outride their men.

I… Ugh.

That’s not me. Google and Pinterest are my resource solutions. I use recipes with real measurements. And if you see me first thing in the morning, well, I may need to identify myself, let alone be ready for any kind of picture. As for riding, my mount usually has a motor and four wheels.

Maybe I just need to get all this off my chest so I don’t give you any false impressions.

Or, maybe I’m writing this because in church yesterday I heard this phrase: “We live according to who we think we are.”

Insecurity says, “What’s wrong with me?” and you live trying to make something happen. Some things you can make happen–others you can’t. Trying to force things though is controlling and it really doesn’t help anything.

Ranching is tough. So is life. Things don’t always turn out how we think they should. BUT…that isn’t all life is. It’s beautiful and hopeful.

Last week I watched my oldest daughter ride some rough country with a bunch of old guys. Her perseverance and tenacity made me proud. Beautiful.

She inspired me: To try new things. To quit letting myself feel “less-than”, especially when it comes to ranch wifery. I even “dumped” supper in the crock pot.

Inferiority and insecurity aren’t new; but they are downers. Someone is always going to be better than me. There are going to be things that take me longer than someone else.

But someone isn’t living in my house. Someone isn’t occupying my thoughts. I am.

Maybe you’ve never struggled with knowing what it’s like to not measure up. Maybe you’ve been invited to every party. Maybe you’re at the top. However, I bet we all have areas where we feel “less-than”. Perhaps bad circumstances scar our identities. I could rattle off a few. However, if we live out of those thoughts of hurt and failure, we never begin to live out of who we really are. I’m imperfect, but still a ranch wife. Not a shiny buckle cowgirl, just regular ‘ol me. But I’ve learned a lot. I can cook for a crew. I can vaccinate cattle. I can irrigate. I can run a house and a four-wheeler. I love animals. I help my husband who is a full-on rancher. I have a passion for agriculture. So, maybe I can’t quilt. Maybe I won’t break any colts…

I’m still a ranch wife. A cowboy wife.

I think Dr. Seuss’s words may be timeless on this subject:

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The Important Reality of Ranching


It’s heart wrenching to watch your child hurt.

Near the beginning of March, we started a month long process of watching our thirteen-year-old daughter be very sick. We were in and out of doctor’s offices and the hospital. It acted like appendicitis to some extent, but the tests didn’t confirm that diagnosis. She had a non-traditional presentation of acute appendicitis and it made her sick for weeks (thankfully it never burst) before an appendectomy was performed to see if it cured her. It turns out, she had chronic appendicitis. Her organs and lymph nodes were inflamed throughout this process, making a “normal” day impossible. Thankfully, surgery confirmed what was eventually suspected, and she is doing well. Recovery takes time, but she actually feels better than she has in months.

Of course our hearts are entangled with our children.

Not surprisingly, they are also intertwined with our cattle.

I’ve heard the accusations of the brutality of the cattle market. That we are inhumane, that we treat cattle without regard for their feelings, that we just want a steak on our plates… The list continues.

This breaks my heart.

We are calving right now and to see the babies run around the field brings me delight. Watching a newborn bond with its mother is awe-striking. Observing animals connect with the land, each other, and us is humbling.


We do not look at a baby calf and think, “YUM! There’s my steak.”

Quite the contrary.

Most of us ranch wives enjoy the lives of our herd. We may get teary if something happens to die. There is sorrow if something gets sick. We rejoice with twins. We laugh as calves race each other while their moms graze.

There is no disconnect from the clumsy baby to the harvested beef. We do not delight in death. We cherish life.

Prior to harvest, the beef industry as a whole, which certainly includes individual producers, works to ensure that their cattle have high quality of life. We provide good water, valuable feed, and suitable living conditions. We watch cattle movements and proceed accordingly to reduce stress. While we do have to make a living, we are concerned with their well being as well as profitability.

We are aware that our world needs food. With our growing population, we must be efficient stewards of the land and animals to bring food to tables–now and for future generations. Beef is a viable food source providing several vitamins and minerals. It’d be irresponsible not to help feed the world–it is a joy to source food.

It isn’t a pendulum that swings one way or the other. It is a careful balancing act–allowing the animal to live the fullest, quality life and being thankful that its life feeds me, feeds others.

Like raising kids, raising cattle is a matter of the heart, mind, will, and emotions. We need to be tough and tender, balancing life with the greatest of care.