It Was An Accident!

It was a week: Long days AI-ing, gathering pastures, running cows through the chute…

At the end of the week, we were about to gather bulls when…oops, there was an accident and my hubby broke his wrist.

He still gathered bulls, but later the x-ray confirmed what we already knew…

And then there was surgery. (Look for more on this coming later in my column in Progressive Cattle.)

Sometimes life is full of surprises and it doesn’t follow what we expect.

Today, as I was attempted to help move cows, I had an asthma attack. I haven’t had an asthma attack in a LONG time, but this was a doozy. I had to get help to get back to the house. The pollen counts are high this year and I guess it is taking its toll on me.

So I figure between the two of us, we can make a team. I have the hands and he doesn’t have allergies…we can do this, right?

Expectations.

We think life will look one way and it looks like something totally different. It is hard sometimes not to be disappointed, but there is always hope. Fred Rogers–as in THE Mr. Rogers–used to say, “Look for the helpers.”

Life is full of challenges, but it is also full of helpers. I had extra help today to help me get to the house. Blessing. My hubby’s surgery on his wrist went well and he hasn’t had much pain. Blessing.

Anyone else experiencing challenges? Are you finding hope? I hope so!

Calving

A new baby with Momma, off by themselves. Cattle often move away from the herd to calve.

We are in the middle of calving season. It’s a little earlier than we have done in the past, but when we moved, the calving date was already set. Fortunately, it was not January!

If you follow me, you know that we prefer spring-time calving because it follows nature’s natural rhythm, plus we live in Montana: January and February are brutal months to be calving. The weather is traumatic for their health, you have to watch them constantly so they don’t freeze–even so, they often lose ears, tails, etc to frostbite. It is not good for the cattle, the owners, or the pocketbook.

I understand that some also farm and have to calve earlier to get ready for farming or to make grazing permits work. Some claim calving earlier guarantees bigger calves–not so. That’s a possibility, but the hazards to their health and ours–(night checks at 20 below zero–yuck!) actually delay gain. We’ve had similar weight calves when calving in April to those who calve months earlier simply because it is easier on the animal.

Anyway, I digress…I have received questions about calving from people outside of the agriculture circle. Their biggest concern boils down to one thing: Are we kind to cattle?

A fair question!

Of course!

We believe cattle ought to live healthy lives that follow their natural cycles. We will not beat them or mistreat them. It is unfortunate that people ask this question because it means that somewhere it has been projected that this is the norm. *Sigh*

We’ve warmed calves in the barn because it was too cold outside after they were born. (We had calves in February from a handful of cattle. Again, not our choice, but it renewed our opinions about spring calving.) We have brought them in the truck to the barn, wrapped in old coats or blankets.

Goofy faces! No one got peed on and this calf is back with Momma in the field.

Yes, cattle are a business. Yes, we have to manage them in a way that is financially responsible. AND-we will try to nurture them in the best way possible.

Calving is a reminder of renewal. The life cycle continues and we get to watch it unfold in the fields.

Happy Spring Everyone!

THE ELK IN OUR HERD

This fall, we had an elk calf join our herd. We think her momma got hit on the highway and the ranch’s cows were the closest family.

The first time the crew moved the herd with our new “calf”, the calf took off in wild zig zag patterns ahead of the cows and the cows tried to follow her…it was a little crazy.

One of these things is not like the other…

When we sold the calves, the elk calf stayed with the cows.

When we processed the cows, we thought the elk calf was going to go into the corrals, but she changed her mind.

The next time we moved the cows, there she was… and she walked right through the gate!

The elk stayed with the herd for a couple months. I took this picture driving home not long ago… the elk has grown so much!

I’m not sure where she is now. We moved the cows out of this pasture and the elk herd came back by, so I imagine she hopped in with her kind. I kind of miss her, but I think she’s probably doing fine.

So, dear friends, you never know what you might see out in your field. But I hope 2022 brings a lot of goodness. Happy New Year!

* I know there is a concern over brucellosis with elk and cattle, so please be aware that we bled the cows to check for this. No brucellosis!

World View

San Pedro

Our oldest daughter just got back from Guatemala. She spent three weeks in a Spanish immersion school with a friend and toured part of the country. She saw things I may never see. This thrills me. World views tend to be the small “world” we build around ourselves: our immediate family and surroundings, our day-to-day circumstances, the food we consume most commonly. None of this is bad per se; it is just that it can be very small.

Having a chance to experience cultures and languages different from our own broadens our perspective. It helps us appreciate our own heritage, while valuing the experiences of another. My daughter found she really enjoyed the beauty and color in Guatemala, along with some of their traditional foods. Homemade tortillas, ground fresh every meal, are something she will remember. Her deepest treasure though is friendship. The amazing people she met–her host family and friends from the school– are people she’ll likely connect with for the rest of her life. She made cultural connections that shape how she values people and hopefully how they value her.

I’d like to say I remained peaceful the entire time she was away, but I didn’t learn until the last week to trust. I prayed and talked to her, but I finally the last week realized my perspective is often limited. It is much too easy to concoct a world view based on fear or the unknown. Yet anything based on fear isn’t rooted in the truth of who we are and Whose we are. The reality is God loves all people across the globe and until we see what their lives are like, we may live in a world we create in our minds. Seeing the pictures helped me broaden my horizons, but I’m so thankful my children are getting to experience something outside their daily routine.

The world is harsh in many ways, but it is also beautiful. Realizing that circumstances don’t revolve around us brings a lot of intentional focus to the situations we encounter on a daily basis–even things like irrigating. How wonderful to have good water!  May your day and your perspective be rich!

Transportation: a Tuk-Tuk 
World View from Guatemala

Figuring Life Out

Fall photos 2018, cows and land 065

When the cattle get out, we always find where the fence is down or if the gate is open. We repair the fence and put them back. We look for why the fence was down or why the gate was open…was it a hunter going through the gate? Did the cows find a weak spot in the fence? Once we’ve discovered the why, we try to prevent it from happening again.

Don’t we do this in life too? Sometimes it’s something quantifiable, such as why is this bill so high? Often times though, it isn’t cut and dry. Why did my mom get cancer? Why did that person act so mean? Why can’t I seem to connect with that group of people?

Recently, our friend’s horse got severely injured with no obvious reason why. None of the other horses were hurt. They woke up and found him badly hurt in a safe pasture. There is no explanation.

Sometimes, despite all our efforts to find a reason why, there isn’t one. Life can’t be figured out or calculated.

It can be lived.

Maybe we don’t have answers, but we do have breath in our lungs. May we live without being paralyzed by why’s and free to stand in wonder and awe of all that God created.

 

Optimistic Pessimism…What Do I Focus On?

Feeding, first calves 2016 026
Calves do what they were meant to do

 

Recently, one of my kids struggled with something. This kid practiced for a year, worked hard, and had been consistent. Until it came to game time…gulp. Things did not go the way they had in practice…

In my mother’s mind, I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out how I could’ve helped, what I could’ve done differently…Did I encourage my child in the right way?

The coach said the game got in the head too much. She said stop thinking about it so hard, just play.

How often do we try to prepare for everything that could go wrong?

If this happens, then I’ll do that…

To some extent we need to be prepared–after all, vehicle repairs happen, cattle sometimes get sick…

When does it cross a line though?

I’m a planner, so I excuse my over-thinking as “planning”. I’m pretty sure it’s optimistic pessimism.

Being an analytical thinker sometimes keeps me up at night, even though my heart is to trust and pray.

So what does an analytic mind do when they need to teach their child to stop thinking too much? (Talk about an oxymoron!)

Yep, I Googled it.

How to stop over analyzing…

Google did not disappoint. There was everything from meditating to “let go”. The one that really caught my attention though:

Start focusing on what could go right instead of what could go wrong.*

Hmm.

Stop planning on what might happen that you’ll have to fix. Start thinking about what might go right.

We actually have to retrain our brains. The Bible calls it taking every thought captive.

I call it hard.

It’s not impossible though.

Graham Cooke says, “What we focus on grows within us”. It’s a quote I use often, but still haven’t quite mastered.

Whatever we are facing today friends, be it cows, people, fences, or other…may we learn to focus on what might go right.

 

 

 

 

*Lolly Daskal, http://www.inc.com

Simple Joy

winter cow trail, feeding in March 2017 036

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

pexels-photo-566040.jpeg

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.

winter feeding, cows, January calf 031

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.

IMG_0263

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!

What Do You Have Right Now?

february--2016--calendar

February 2016. Are you where you want to be? Thinking back five years, are you on the path you thought you’d be on at this point in your life?

Yeah, me either. Although I must admit my life goals have been somewhat ambiguous. “Do more writing. Be a better ranch wife. Choose joy above all.” These aren’t bad things, but they are hardly quantifiable. Have I reached them? I don’t know, how much is more? What is better?

What if I’d said, I’d like to be writing four pages a day. Or I’m going to study the cattle market weekly. If I have a target, I’ll know whether my aim is on.

I realize it is February and usually it is January that beckons for resolutions and goals, but the year is still young. In previous years, January’s been full and February starts to feel like the New Year. January’s been a time of dreaming and casual thinking, while February brings details. What do you want for the upcoming year?

My goal is to be writing a couple pages a day and studying market trends. I’m tackling health issues and looking forward to resolution.

When we first started out and had nothing, we operated day by day, reassessing what we had to use it to further what we wanted. We are in the same boat again. Due to relocating, we are starting over again. We chose to do this because letting go of a smaller dream allowed us to pursue a bigger one. Now we are evaluating our assets. What do we have? How will it help us grow? What other tools do we need to achieve a larger herd?

The obvious is money. No one would turn away more money. Yet this isn’t the heart behind our life. So what can we do now with what we have?

We have desire…vision…a tractor…land…new fences…Grass…Water Rights…Kids that want to help…We have knowledge.

We need to reseed pastures…to plant new cover crops…to bring in goats for weeds on the river…

These things are all doable. Yes, we’ll need to buy a few things, but we have the ability to complete the work ahead of us.

 

What do you have already that can help you get to where you want to go?

 

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!