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

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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?

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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

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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

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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.

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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?

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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!

 

The Future of the Industry

We just got back from the Idaho Cattle Association’s summer gathering. Since we are fairly new to Idaho, it was encouraging to meet new people. My husband has had the opportunity to mingle with other producers, but this was my first time. There is a desire here to promote the industry and share our stories with those not familiar with cattle. I love this because sharing the heart behind the industry is vital. We want consumers to know that we work hard to protect the resources under our care.

Our land practices must provide for our cattle, native wildlife, and future generations with great efficacy. This includes not only maintaining pasture health, but promoting it. Many of our habits today are proactive rather than reactive. Water resources must be protected rather than salvaged. Nutrition programs encourage cattle health, for gestational wellbeing and birth, as well as longterm viability. Our desire is that what is witnessed in our fields will not only sustain our families, but our environment for years to come, while at the same time, providing a food source for the billions of people on our planet.

It goes without saying that ranchers desire to supply the world with sustainable beef. Not just because it is good business, but because it is good practice. Although the “law” of sustainable beef has yet to be written, there is a code that the majority of producers follow: provide the best life possible for the animal as it provides life for us.

Many consumers buy meat, not knowing the practices behind the product. Hopefully this will change. As the word gets out, may the population know that producers are enacting practices such as crop and grazing rotations, fencing off riparian areas, and animal health procedures (just to name a few) that seek to promote the health of land and animals alike.
We are blessed with the opportunity to take part in ranching and look forward to the future!

august 2010 030 The Future Generation

Fill ‘Er Up

stocker calves out to pasture

We leased some pasture recently that we are filling with stocker calves. It’s a stepping stone to reach a bigger goal and another beginning. How many times I’ve started something, never thinking that I’d start it again. Yet it seems in life that there are many starts and stops! On the same token, I’ve started many things with a preconceived notion of what it would look like, only to see life paint a different picture.

While specific situtions are important, perhaps the bigger issue at hand is identity.
There are always going to be things we do simply because they must be done. However, at the core of our being we were created for purpose. I’ve watched people spin their wheels and endure frustrating situations because they do go after their calling. In fact, I’ve done it! I’ve rationalized with myself: If I just do this job, the pay will be worth it… but often I denied my heart permission to thump with excitement. Granted, we have to pay the bills, but I think there are many creative solutions in life that would push us closer to that which makes us feel alive. For us, we purchased stocker calves. It isn’t the large scale ranch we dream of, nor is it as big as the one we had when we changed location, but it is a step towards our bigger goal. Our desire is to steward land and cattle. We are happy to put our toes back in the water while we pencil out ideas for the future.
Land, cattle, and the desire to build for future generations excites our hearts. What excites yours? What makes you feel purposeful?

Homeward Bound


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I’ve been shy to blog about all the details of our transition, but we aren’t the only ones to experience this phase in life, so I feel I must unravel a bit of my heartstrings.

Many of you know, that we ran cattle in Montana for years before deciding to transition to a new state. We didn’t change location because we weren’t making money or didn’t like it…quite the contrary. Yet we felt a shift that is hard to describe…an internal feeling that change was coming. We had the option to embrace the change and try something new or continue in our path. When we looked at what we were doing, we enjoyed it, things were going fairly well, but no matter how many angles we looked from, we couldn’t see any way to grow bigger. Looking at our new option, it appeared that several opportunities existed for growth. So we did something that hurt, but seemed like the best option…we sold our place in Montana and all our cows. We uprooted. Why? Because sometimes it is necessary to let go of a smaller dream in order to grab hold of a bigger one.

Today is very different than we imagined when we left… We do not yet own the place of our bigger dreams. In fact, things went so different than anticipated; we doubted everything we’ve ever done! We’ve been through calving season without cows to calve and the ache there is indescribable. We thought for sure by now all the pieces would have come together. The place we had our eyes on had an offer before our place in Montana sold… Sure, we could piece something together, but our big dreams keep us from settling for another small dream.

In the meantime, we keep dreaming. It’s a little like labor…after awhile, you hit a point where the baby hasn’t been born yet, but you are ready to be done. You don’t think anything is really happening but pain. You wonder if you’ll make it…Then something happens and life enters…and it is more beautiful than you imagined. Until then, things are hard and messy, but completely necessary to the unfolding of the process. So during our transition, we are trying to focus on the good things happening and the fact that yes, life will emerge.

There are tough moments; things hard to understand right now. Yet our passion for the cattle industry and our desire to live life on the range doesn’t change. It may not yet look like we imagined, but we pray and trust that good plans will fall into open hands.