12 June 2022

Audacity

We, the children and I, were headed to the pasture. Going to check cows, maybe play in the creek.
As we came over the hill, on the empty county road, we saw a tractor parked at the edge of a field. The driver, standing next to it, turned and walked to the road as we approached.
He held his hand up and waved us down as we got to him. We stopped and he opened the passenger side door.
Could we give him a ride to his pickup? He asked.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew who he was, I knew before we ever stopped. I wouldn’t pick up a random stranger. But helping a neighbor, even one I don’t personally know, is different. I cleared off the passenger seat and he hopped in.
On the way to his pickup we visited. Had his tractor broke down? I asked.
No, he just needed to get back to his pickup to run some parts over to a different tractor working in a different field. He saw us coming and thought a ride would be faster than walking.
Who was I by the way?
Apparently he hadn’t waved us down because we were a somewhat distant neighbor he recognized and asked for a ride. He just saw a random car coming down the road and asked for a ride. The audacity!
I was amazed and rather impressed.
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7 June 2022

Tornado

We had a very busy weekend. As all of them seem to be lately. Life has got to slow down a little bit eventually. Right? I hope?
We got the rest of the tomatoes and peppers out in the garden. It was hot in the bright sunshine. To the north we could see a small storm cloud coming across. They look so pretty, dark grey and white against the deep blue. Soon we could hear thunder in the distance. The noisy clouds often have hail so I was glad it was going to miss us.
Looking up from planting I glanced at the storm again.
Against the blue grey of the cloud a long white rope hung down. I stared a moment then called my son and husband to hurry! Come see this!
We watched a bit, but I wanted a better view. Hopping on the 4wheeler we went by the house and grabbed out daughter too, before driving to the top of the hill in our driveway.
From there we all watched the tornado in wonder as it hung unmoving. If only we could get closer for a better view. There was still a big hill blocking the bottom of it.
It looked like it was in the general area of town, about ten miles away. They can be deceptive though. We couldn’t see it clearly but off to the west we could clearly see a wall of dust coming at us with the cold front that was bringing the storm.
My husband thinking of the delicate tiny plants he had been busy setting out insisted that we hurry back to finish getting protection up around them and close the windows in the house before it filled with dust.
Reluctantly I turned the 4wheeler around and we rushed home.
The kids and I thought maybe we should go for a drive, see if we could get a better view. But when we got back outside the tornado was gone. Back up into the cloud it had come from. The dark storm clouds were already starting to lighten.
The excitement was over.
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24 April 2022

April Blizzard

We got a bit of snow yesterday.

It started Friday. Not the snow but the weather.

There was fog, haze and moisture in the air first thing, even dew. We haven’t seen that for ages. It was so sticky hot and humid that stepping outside was miserable.

Then the wind came up. It howl and ripped through the yard, even harder than it has been. Which says a lot because it’s been blowing. That night one strong gust ripped down tree branches and scattered kids toys out through the yard. Then the lightning started. The fear of fire makes any sleeping hard. Especially when you know they are burning out of control not too far away.

Finally managing to get to sleep we woke to snow!

A wonderful thing to see. The forecast predicted an inch. Maybe two. We had that already. The radar showed the storm circling. It was melting as fast as it came down and water was running every where. It was a wonderful thing to see. And the snow was still coming down.

We checked cows, luckily no calves. Some were huddled in good sheltered places. Some stood in the worst possible. Ghost’s brand new calf was laid against a fence, as dry as he could get, out of the never ceasing wind. The bottle calves were hesitant to cone out of their shed. They had never seen the white stuff before. They ate quickly, hungerly than ran back to safety.

The children forced outside to play and use up energy climbed snowbanks that drifted well over the fences.

This morning the snow had stopped. Sunshine and blue sky teased us that it might be warm, but the wind is still howling. After feeding and making sure everything was safe and healthy we went out for a drive. We had heard stories of stranded travelers and people staying with the neighbors until they could get their cars out of the ditch. We wanted to see for our selves.

The highway was nearly deserted. Still closed we heard as we parked in the middle of the road to talk. People had taken it upon themselves to move the barricades so they could get through but the roads were supposed to be closed. A semi blocked half of the road, not tipped on its side only by the grace of God. Most of the wheels were off the ground. A pickup buried way off the road. The car of a pair of college professors who couldn’t get home on the usual road so instead of staying where they were decided to try taking the long way. Instead they ended up in a ditch, walking through the storm to the nearest house. Luckily for them they were taken in, given a warm place to stay, then pulled out this morning. Maybe they should teach classes in not doing stupid things at the college?

In town buildings were opened to take in more stranded travelers. I don’t remember ever hearing about that? Maybe I just didn’t know in the past? Maybe more people were caught unaware with the forecast for an inch of snow and nearly ninety degree weather the day before.

We are not complain about the snow. It was wonderful! The most moisture we’ve seen for the last year. That’s all together, not at once. With this snow we might just have a little bit of grass. If nothing else the dust might not be blowing as bad for a few days. Hopefully this will be the start and rain will come again.

19 April 2022

Easter ’22

Another Easter come and gone.

The weather was alright. Cool but not cold, windy but not as bad as the wind has been recently. We got to spend it together, which is always nice.

The kids did the Easter egg hunt in town on Saturday. It was windy and really cold. They had fun though, for the whole five minutes it took them. Lots of kids, lots of candy. lots of eggs. I tried to get pictures but they disappeared into a sea of children so fast it was nearly impossible.

We declined to get up in time to make the six thirty sunrise service at church. Why do they make these things so early! Instead we stayed home and enjoyed breakfast.

After breakfast I hustled the kids out to get calves fed so I could start hiding eggs! Instead of hiding eggs around the yard we did a treasure hunt, with clues hidden all around. I sat down on Canva, the design program I use for work, and made up picture clues. Those got hidden in eggs wherever the clue led them. They had to get bikes and ride half way to the mailbox, go in and out of the house, get a 4wheeler and ride out to a certain pivot, figure out the directions to know which one. I think they had fun. I know we did following them around. Each clue egg had some candy eggs with it to reinforce their behavior, searching, and to encourage them to keep going!

In the middle of it all one clue was hidden in their bible. We had to fit some preaching into the middle of the whole pagan undertaking. It also gave them a chance to sit and rest from their running around so they could finish running.

25 January 2022

King Of The Hill

It’s the kids job to go feed horses on weekends or if it’s warm enough, and light enough, after school. They fight it and complain a lot but do a descent job. I go out an help them sometimes. It’s fun to watch how they divide up the work and go about getting it done.

Last time I went a long I had to help The Goblin Child onto the hay bale. Then down again. It was a long ways up there. 8 stopped to pet HIS mare. He claims her now, until his sister decides she wants to ride for once and fights him for Lady.

Then we stopped to play on the rock pile. King of the hill is fun. Until it isn’t. Somehow they are still surprised when it ends in tears.

 

25 January 2022

Exploring The Sheep Barn

While my poor cow hating husband and I rearranged the sheep barn to better fit cattle the children climbed around and explored. My favorite thing for them to do. They had fun, even if the fun was punctuated by requests to please be allowed back inside.

As we looked for ways to better allow cattle to find shelter, calving is coming up quickly, they studied dead mummified raccoons? Whatever they are, they’re fascinating. They climbed the ladder to the loft, but weren’t quite brave enough to go all the way up. The took my phone and used it for light and to share findings with the one waiting below or outside. Not quite brave enough to go in.

13 December 2021

Sorting Bulls

I got hurt sorting bulls.

It sounds so cool and leaves so many opportunities for the imagination to form terrible and fascinating pictures of what could have happened. Ferocious fighting bulls, horses tripping, danger, excitement, the romance of the west. That make me look like a cool cowgirl, out there doing tough cowgirl things.

I fell off my 4wheeler.

That one doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. It brings to mind working cattle ‘farmer style’ in the mud and muck. The pretty clothes out of the picture with muck boots, probably overalls, replacing silk scarves and big hats.

As usual with life, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The kids and I did great. The bulls needed sorted out of the cows. Why? Because it had been decreed that it was time I guess, after they had been running with the cows most of the year, it was suddenly time to pull them. My husband had left the house well before we left to go to church. He was off to go feed and fix a waterer that had been blowing fusses and freezing solid. When we got home he was still working on the waterer. That was when I learned that the bulls needed sorted. After a quick lunch he went back to fighting damage from mice in an antique.

I decided that we could help him out a little. The kids could manage a gate. I could probably get the bulls out by myself with my trusty green mount.

The kids did great. Bulls can be dangerous. Not because they mean to be. Usually they’re just so big they run things over by accident. We are no more to them than a fly we swat halfheartedly. I told them what to do, to get well away from the gate if a bull was coming. That playing around it would probably be enough to keep anything else from getting near. It worked wonderfully. Four bulls quietly and easily brought from the herd and out the gate. I was starting to worry about one of them deciding to come back in and the kids not noticing it coming from behind. They were in the long lane that runs between the feed bunks. The bulls were mostly standing happily eating the calves ration. But no, I couldn’t just leave them be.

I called the kids to come with me. We shut the gate on the main bunch so nothing else could join us. Then started the simple task of pushing them up the lane. Of course the boss bull was in front. He was eating happily and didn’t want to move. The other bulls coward and shied, then the fighting started. In the tight confines of the alley. Realizing the hopeless idiocy of y plan I ordered the kids off the 4wheeler. Get on the bunks, or into the empty pen next to us for that matter. They wouldn’t know trouble was coming or move fast enough to get out of the way if the bulls ran over the 4wheeler in their fighting. The bulls wouldn’t notice at all.

With them out of harms way I tried a bit longer to move the bulls. Daisy quit the chase early, looking reproachfully at me for my silly ideas. My throat got sore from yelling. Two of the bulls went by and off the other direction. Guess that wasn’t going to work. The kids were playing in the snow of their newfound playground. Daisy had gone to the house. It was me and my trusty green mount.

We went back to look through the herd again, not having any idea how many bulls we were supposed to be getting. One more was standing out in the open looking at us. Pushing him towards the gate I was able to yell for a child to leave their play and go get the gate for me. Five bulls sorted out of the cows. Five my tired, cow hating husband wouldn’t have to mess with.

Going back into the herd to check for more bulls I saw an old cow. Lame and bony, she would do better out of the main herd and in a pen being fed with the couple of other special needs cows. I sorted her out and started easing her towards the gate. There was a bull standing in the way. I yelled for a child. My son came but stopped at the fence across from the bull. We had no way to go.

Then, next to me my husband appeared! Finished with the tank he was coming to finish the sorting. I yelled to him to go get the gate. He went without enthusiasm. The cow and I waited. In the waiting she decided she would really rather go back to the bunch. 4wheelers don’t maneuver as well as a horse. Instead of pivoting and easily stepping over to block her I would have to make big circles, back up, and generally be unhandy. So much easier to just hop off my mount and stop her on foot. I jumped off and leaped forward to hold her. My feet went right out from underneath me in the slick wet snow.

My brain took a snap shot of the moment we crashed, my brain and I that is. It happened in slow motion that moment, hanging there part way down forever as my mind recorded the wreck and the impossibility of changing anything. My foot went out to the side, I couldn’t bring it back into line where it should be, something in the back of my calf snapped. Then my butt landed solidly in the snow and there I lay. The cow stood over me looking confused and somewhat horrified. Maybe embarrassed for me. Silly human. Gasping for breath I tried to decide how badly my leg was hurt.

Then in the distance I heard something. The sweet dulcet tones of my husband yelling for me to bring the cow up, the gates were ready. Cussing on the inside I pondered the plausibility of that occurring, then pushed to my foot.Β  Only one. Although the other did still seem to be attached I felt no desire to stand on it. Luckily my green mount is easier to get on and stay on than my preferred four legged variety. We did bring the cow up and through the gate. Then we did manage to get the two young bulls sorted out of the calves. Luckily there were only five bulls. We had managed to finish that job, just the kids and I, without needing any help from the men. All cool and cowboy like. Only to be brought down by an old lame cow in the end.

By the time the job was completely finished, all the bulls big and small out and run up the lane to there new home by someone more capable than me, capabull? 🀣 I was done. Children called out of the snow where they had spent the remainder of the time playing happily were put to use opening and closing gates to get us home. Then to the couch and some ice. Today I am able to discern that I’m not badly hurt, just wimpy and apparently getting old. At this advanced age I really should be careful about ice and falls.

 

 

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3 December 2021

Christmas Parade ’21

We had so much fun at a local Christmas lights parade last night. It was even more exciting to see a handful of horses in the parade. And one dog the size of a horse.
It’s always impressive to see horses taking this sort of thing well. The big draft horses walked along as quiet and well behaved as could be. Not at all worried by the lights and noise. We talked to the person with the mini after the parade she said the very well behaved little horse was about worn out by the time they walked all five blocks. That’s one way to get them to behave
The dog on the other hand we saw walking home afterwards quite a ways away. He must not have been as worn out by his load.
Maybe next year we’ll haul horses in to our local parade. Not this one. Too far to go at night down a road constantly crossed by deer and elk. We made it home without hitting any but passed one crumpled car who hadn’t been so lucky and deer grazing happily along the road who were kind enough to stay where they were instead of jumping out in front of us.
Would ours do as well as these did? It seems unlikely but it would be fun to try!
The weather for this one was much warmer than usual. We all wore coats but were perfectly comfortable with them unbuttoned. Lots of people gave out hot chocolate. It was good even in the warm weather. On the way home we drove around looking at Christmas lights while we waited to pick up pizza for the kids book-it tickets.
29 November 2021

Trunk or Treat ’21

We hit Chadron on Friday. The annual Trunk or Treat was great, as always. We went with friends, all of us loaded in two cars together. We got the rowdy bunch and my poor beleaguered husband was happy to drop us off and run for the peace of Walmart. The rest of us enjoyed the last of the warm beautiful fall days.

1 November 2021

Halloween ’21

October has been so full of festivities that by the time Halloween proper rolled around I was exhausted. The kids weren’t and that is the important thing.

It was cold all day. We worked inside on shelling beans, freezing brussel sprouts and fitting in one last little bit of Halloween WOW and LOTRO. When evening rolled around we bundled up nice and warm then headed out into the chill.

That wasn’t actually all that chilly. I had forced layers of long underwear, coats, and gloves onto the children. They quickly discarded them. The weather was actually just about perfect. It’s supposed to be cold on Halloween. Even with the hint of mist in the air we all stayed warm walking as fast as we could, anxious to get to the next house and the next treat. We had planned on doing one street. They finished that in record time and we decided to go down the next one, then the next, and the next. They canvased most of the town and we were still home well ahead of bed time!

The littlest of the children had a hard time keeping up with the big ones. One of them crashed a few times right on his head in his rush to keep up and enjoy the fun. Luckily his trusty hat saved his face. He wore out quickly and retired to the car with his father who was as easily tired of trick or treating as my darling husband. The men followed in the vehicles, as the women ran behind the children loosely herding them along. No serious injuries were received, no children ran over by cars, we even made it home without hitting any deer!

Halloween was a success.

There’s nothing like a small town Halloween. There are houses where all the children are ushered inside. We stand on the street waiting without worry. All the children we meet we well known to each other. Even if not recognized under the costumes. They join together in bands then separate coming and going through the night. Home made treats are handed out without us worrying about who made them or what could be inside. Supper is traditionally held at the church, a combination of irony and beauty.