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!


How To Be Like the Big Boys

just like the big boys

This photo is of our bottle calf. Well, it’s actually some friends’ bottle calf. We tried to graft him to a cow who her lost her calf, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with him. He’s aggressive, smart, and he’ll be anyone’s buddy… I’m bummed the momma wasn’t interested.

We are feeding him a bottle until he can be re-homed. Bottle calves are fun because they always love to see you. He loves back rubs, scratches behind the ear, and long walks on the beach… Ha, ha.

After it was clear the momma who lost her calf wouldn’t take this amazing one, we had him behind the barn. He could see some other pairs, but he wouldn’t go out with them. Instead, he wanted to be with the 4-H steers. He stood at the gate into their pen and bawled. The poor kid was lonely!

He bounded into the steer pen like a bull at a rodeo. He ran up to the steers and the three of them started playing. The calf was so happy to have friends!

Obviously the steers eat a bit more and a different variety than the calf, but every time the steers get fed, he comes over to the bunks. He nibbles on hay and a bit of grain, but not much. He’s simply happy to be included.

Aren’t we like that too?

I know I like to be included. I also try hard to included others. It hurts when we are deliberately left out.

Yet it also shows who is important in our lives. Who we hang around will determine our own course. This calf is copying the behavior of the bigger boys around him. We often do the same.

It doesn’t take much to be like the big boys–just hang around them!

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.

I’m still reeling.are you serious emoji

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!

Sept. 2017 moving cows to Cramp Springs 011


What qualifies us to ranch?

Perhaps I should answer with fact: My husband has degrees in animal science and agricultural business, as well as a Masters degree. He has twenty two years of experience in various states. Together, not one moment of our married life has separated us from agriculture. We’ve made money in cattle sales. We constantly read: new studies, stats, economic projections…

A plaintiff could argue: You grew up in town. Your family name isn’t present in generational agricultural heritage. No one gave you land or cattle. Start-up funds are minimal in comparison. You’ve lost money in cattle sales.

Both perspectives are true.

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.”Abraham Maslow

What fuels a musician, an artist, or a poet fuels us.


Many think we’re crazy. Hard work, fencing, manure, gain/loss, time, money, effort…it all adds up. Last year was our hardest year ranching. We’d done well in years prior, but last August we sold short-term pairs the day the stock market crashed. At that point, we berated ourselves for our stupidity, questioned our sanity, and at the very best, doubted our hopes. We considered selling everything and never buying another cow or horse. Our pendulum swung in opposition to our desire.

It took time before we saw the light again. As we imagined life without cows, urban sunrises, and our children growing up without any ranching, the thought crushed us more than the blow of loss

We didn’t feel like continuing. We lost steam. Yet passion kept us from quitting.

Feeding, first calves 2016 026

The first baby this year.


Right now, our small little herd is calving. (To read why we chose spring calving, click here.) Spring brings the gift of life. In the morning, we head to the window to watch the calves bopping through the field. Do we get irritated? Yes. Do we grump? Sometimes. However, we desire to grow in thankfulness and keep fueling our passion.

How do you fuel passion?

Sometimes you don’t have to, it just naturally flows and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Lately though, in my personal goals, I’ve let a voice slip in: You’re never going to make it. Others will do it better than you. What are you thinking?

 It’s very difficult to press on listening to the ugliness of doubt. Doubt steals my energy, my hopes, and my dreams.

Thus I’m convinced: to fuel passion, I must ignore doubt. In addition, I must give myself permission.

I know that sounds basic. Give myself permission. How many of us, though, feel like we need permission just to live? How many people long to know their intrinsic worth outside of performance? This is a bigger topic than today’s blog, but allowing myself to have permission to breathe, to live, to love, to dance, to dream, and the freedom to pursue what I enjoy… Well, it’s added a few logs to the fire of my passion.

Here in our cyber connection, I am unaware of the challenges each of you face. Just know something: You are worth it. Your passions are needed in the world, just as ours are needed in the pasture.


I’d love to hear your comments on how you keep passion alive. Or your current challenges.







What It Might Be–Is This Homesteading?

As I mentioned in my previous post, we recently moved and bought a place that needs a lot of TLC. We’ve been working on the inside, but as spring approaches, we’ll be working on the outside too. We have acreage–our land to put our cows on–it really even feels good to write that. We are blessed. With the blessing though comes restoration. Fences are down and the ones that are up are so old, bad, and twisted they wouldn’t hold in anything. We’ve been doing a lot of clean up, but my hubby’s good horse still gone torn up on something–He’s been hanging out in the barn with a “turtleneck” on to keep him from rubbing on the stitches, munching on antibiotic cocktails and calling to his buddies.

Yet, what we see right now is not what it could be.

There is work to be done for sure, but we have ideas in mind for the place it could become. Don’t you think that’s what the homesteaders thought? They traveled west, looked at ground, and settled in a place because they had a taste of “what it could be”. I suppose we are modern day homesteaders then. Often though in life we approach things not for what they are now, but for what they might be, if only given attention.

May we all continue to see and begin to see things with an eye for “what it might be”!

Marci's phone pics and videos April 29 2015 014

It may need work, but here’s some of it’s beauty!


I haven’t written for awhile. I miss journaling about life outdoors, even if it has only been a of couple weeks since my last tidbit. However, we find ourselves in transition again…or still, rather. As I’ve written before, we left Montana two years ago because we leased our ground there and we had an opportunity to move to Idaho and buy a place. My husband also got a job in Idaho that allowed him to be more involved in the cattle industry. The past two years have not gone anything like we imagined, but I wouldn’t change them.
Things didn’t work out in Idaho for us to buy a place and today we find ourselves packing boxes to move to Montana. It isn’t the same place we used to live, but who would’ve thought? Doors opened for my hubby to have almost the same job and we signed papers on a little place of our own.
I can’t believe the blessing of having some land of our own. We’ve always dreamed about it. We’ve had cattle on leased land for years and years. We are quite excited to have a place of our own. It needs TLC, so we will be busy, but we are blessed.
My blog may slow down a bit until we move in and get settled…(In winter…in Montana… 🙂 ) My heart is still here though!

view from our MT house

My new view!