Country kids grow up a little different than kids in town. I am forever grateful for our large backyard.
Right now that life isn’t so much about horses. They send their time standing out in their pasture, eating and fighting flies. We are busy hauling hay, working summer fallow, canning beans, freezing anything that looses it’s crisp when canned, working in the garden, and generally keeping busy.
As important as I think it is for the kids to work with us and learn the value of labor, we also do our bast to get out and enjoy the summer.
Hot days are much better spent in the shade or water than horseback though so we go to the lake or explore water holes out in the pasture. Soon enough they will be back in school and I will get to work horses again. Maybe even clean house! 🤣 Until then they will be happy with a bareback ride in from grazing the yard and petting noses over the fence. I will be happy that they are enjoying the horses, enjoyment doesn’t have to mean riding.
We’ve been going over at least once a week and checking on the heifers. In a pasture near them there is a water hole. It’s fed by a spring that at some time someone cleaned out and dug a big hole around. It is quite the bubbling spring for this area. On past it the creek runs water. Before it, nothing.
We’ve gone before and thrown our fishing lines in. Not really in hopes of catching anything. We can see lot of fish but they are tiny. Instead just for something to do while we hang out together.
We went again today. Both kids had a pole and were left alone to figure them out. Or not. There was some success. Then they, one of them, got bored and started to wander. Across the creek and up the ‘cliff’ on the other side. Eventually we followed. Up the cliff and across to the old windmill.
The windmill isn’t used any more. The tank under it is empty and collecting junk. All around it was more junk. Great junk. Foundations and remains of old buildings. We wandered thinking of what once was. We discussed how people would have chosen this spot to settle. No, not the trees near by but something to do with them. Yes, probably because of the spring. An easy close place to get water in this dry empty land.
On down the fence away from the old building site then back down to the water, A different water hole. More big cotton woods offering shade and music. In this hole we could see bigger fish. Still not big enough to eat but who wants to actually catch them anyway. Our poles were back at the first water hole though. Out on a fallen tree 8 decided to dip his feet in and Daisy decided to follow. We found a baby turtle shell, minus the baby turtle. Now we all had treasures to carry along.
The fastest way back was to follow the water along the base of thee banks. Or not. It quickly became too steep and there were nettles. We ended up climbing the cliff, with me carrying the pipe, turtle shell and a weird round thing I wanted. It was alot to carry up a cliff. Some how we made it then back down our original path and back across the water.
We were too tired to go back with fishing rods as originally planned and went on to check cows instead. We’ll come back next time. I hope.
How in the world is this child supposed to be ready for school in two weeks?
He has spent the summer mostly naked, covered in mud, and as feral as a wild animal. He wanders the garden eating tomatoes like an apple. Is in and out of the pool or hose constantly through out the day. He drives fourwheelers, and some times the pickup.
He is fearless and tough as nails. Except for his feelings, those are tender and soft. He will often cry after he has accidentally caused hurt to someone and say that he’s mad because he hurt his own feelings.
He can’t sit still and loves adventure. He loves tractors and computers, helping the guys do their work. He’s funny and kind when he’s not driving us crazy.
Hopefully school can handle him, and not break that spirit.
This summer that seemed endless just a few months ago is winding down. School is set to start as normal in a couple weeks.
I am looking forward to it with relief and excitement bit also with dread and disrepair. While a little time away from the children would be nice once in awhile, for the sake of the cleanliness of this house and to get work done on my job, I also hate to see them go and never feel like we took full advantage of summer while it was here.
We have been doing our best not to waste a moment of the time we have left.
I needed to run to the library to get some work done on the summer reading program we are doing. Better late than never and better on line than not at all.
While I recorded the book reading and played on their tablets in the cool air conditioning of the library. With that done went downtown.
The children love to stop and get smoothies at the coffee shop in town. I am happy to oblige them whenever possible. When we went to get them though we noticed the coffee shop was doing lunch. It twas a bit early but with their father out working summer fallow we had all the time in the world. We put in our order for lunch then took our smoothies to the park. Playing and eating I loved every time they exclaimed over how small the toys had gotten sine our last trip there. It had been awhile.
When it was time to go pick up lunch we took it to eat at the gazebo. Between bites and after they ran to the little park next to the gazebo park and played on the toys. There was a new piece of equipment they had been wanting to try. Apparently it wasn’t as good as it looked or it was just too hot. Before long they were ready to go.
I had thrown goggles and towels in the car and we took the gravel road home past the lake. We’ve been making good use of the thinngy that lets us play music from the phone through the car speakers and love singing along together to Peterson Farm Bros and Farmer Derek. Pasture Road has been our theme song for checking cows all summer. We drove and sang and were to the lake in no time.
The good spot to get to the water, down at the end of the road was empty again. We waded, I waded, they snorkeled and ran through the water until their teeth chattered with cold on the hot sunny day. Laid out inn the sun then waded in again. The Goblin Child puts her face down inn the water and swims all over the place like a fish. 8 build sand castles and gallivants about splashing and making a huge ruckus.
Then chilled to the bone it was time to go home. Another day of summer carefully not wasted.
We been running and working so hard all summer there hasn’t been time to breath, much less get out and do anything fun.
Other than work. Work is fun.
I still can’t believe it isn;t early spring. Summer should be just coming not almost over. When I realized that school was going to be starting shortly, maybe, I decided we had to get out and do something.
Wheat harvest was just finished, short and sweet this year. Just a few days long and not much wheat in what was harvested. The next day was supposed to be unseasonably cool. I had been waiting for a day like that. It was time to take the kids to Toadstool!
My hard working husband even took the day off work and came with us.
We went to the Cook Shack first. It was on the way. The kids haven’t been here before. They were fascinated. Everything had to be explored. They ran through the town like real old west hooligans terrorizing the locals. The slated their thirst at the bar with a root beer.
I had one goal while we were there and had to get pictures of the infamous horse skull with the halter grown in. It makes the rounds on social media regularly and I wanted to show it in it’s natural habitat.
Then we went to Toadstool. It was packed. We got the last parking spot and grabbed a picnic table. I had packed lunch and we were getting hungry. The children drank their root beer and could barely contain themselves long enough to eat.
Once freed 8 took off down the trail. Or somewhere near the trail. Or not. He climbed every peak and tried to kill himself. It was the best playground he had ever seen. We gasped, held our breath, squeezed out eyes shut. Somehow he never did fall down a cliff or off a mountain. The Goblin Child followed behind at a much more sedate post but still did her fair share of climbing.
After making a lap around the short trail, with children walking quietly beside us by the end, we got back inn the car and headed into the depths of Sioux county. I wanted to go past Montrose and see the battle sight and church. There was a pickup backed up to the door of the church and the sound of hammering coming from inside. The kids and I went to look around the cemetery then wandered back towards the church. I had thought there was a plaque somewhere telling about the history of the area but didn’t see it anywhere. Maybe the people working would know.
Inside a young man and his grandfather maybe? Were hard at work. They were restoring the church to its original state and doing a wonderful job. They had no idea about a battle ever being fought there though or any historic plaque. I think it was out in the pasture, way off the road. We weren’t going to try to drive out there in the car. We would have to read about it at home. The battle and the town
From there it was back south towards the hills again. There was a small park I remembered stopping by years ago, before the fire that had cleared most of the trees out of that area. I could only hope the park hadn’t burnt too. It was marked on the map we had so maybe it was there. The children were restless and my farmer husband is not the fan of the badlands that the rest of us are. I hoped I didn’t disappoint everyone.
After winding through the creek bottom and worrying that we had missed it somehow we came to the place, marked by a big entryway sign. Coffee park. We pulled in and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. There was an old set of playground equipment. The dangerous kind the kids love with a huge set of teeter totters that nearly gave me a heart attack, even after their escapades at Toadstool. A babbling creek that ran clear over rocks. Carefully mown and maintained out there inn the middle of nowhere. We ran and played and wadded and sat on the bridge and read, relaxing in the cool shade.
From there it was up Pants Butte road, the closest we come to mountain climbing out here. I loved it. The kids were not impressed.
Fort Robinson was on the way home so we stopped at the Ice House Ponds, not a place we had ever been before. It was beautiful but everyone was tired and getting grouchy. After a bit of playing and fish watching we headed for home. It had been a great day and a fun mini family vacation. We’re going to have to try to make it up that way every summer.
We spent the day getting the combine ready to go. The wheat was dry and the next day supposed to be hot. Miserably hot.
It was time for wheat harvest to begin.
Getting the combine cleaned up and ready to go is a family affair. Like all things in farming are. The kids love to get out there and help, they think the combine is one big jungle gym. We love to encourage them to get out and work, to learn to love farming, and tractors, and being with us.
Finished with the combine we worked in the garden, weeding and admiring the fast growing pumpkin vines. Watching them reach towards each other we talked about how they can grow up to six inches in a day. We took pictures so we could look again the next day and see how much they grew.
Towards evening clouds began to grow.
It’s been so dry. Rain would be good.
Rain is just as scary as it is hoped for on dry years. During drought we are just as likely to get hail, or dry lightening strikes, as we are rain.
The thunder rumbles grew closer and the cloud was growing right on top of us. When the rain drops began to fall they were big and heavy, scattered across the sidewalk. Then it started. Our son said it was raining ice. Technically he was right. I love the names kids give things. He was frightened and worried by the ice rain. Honestly everyone was.
My husband stood in the open door and watched. I couldn’t and stayed in the kitchen, hiding, as I cooked supper.
Lacking the wind to drive it the hail fell straight down, scattered and small. It didn’t stop though, going on and on. Then the skies opened and dumped hail in a frozen downpour. I buried my head in my cooking. My husband cursed it from the doorway.
Once it finally stopped and the lightening moved far enough away we went out to survey the damage.
Tree litter covered the sidewalk. Hail stones still covered the ground. Glancing towards the garden told me I didn’t want to inspect that any closer right now. On the fourwheeler, as a family, like farming always is, we drove to look at the corn fields. See how bad it was.
It could have been worse. It could always be worse. We’ve all seen the corn completely destroyed, beat back down to bare ground. The trees stripped completely bare and killed in one summer storm. It was bad enough though.
With lips drawn tight my husband stared silently across the tattered fields.
In the distance lightening still flashed in the dark clouds as the sun broke through the clouds. A rainbow lit the darkness.
It’s been a rough year. We will be alright. As always, as a family.
Yesterday was the hottest day yet this year. Temps creeping into the hundreds. Rain has been nearly nonexistent. The winds that have howled all summer have sucked away the few drops we’ve received before the thirsty grass could take it in.
We had to go to town. On the way home as our frozen food melted in the trunk we drove towards clouds. At first it was exciting, the chance of rain to quench the parched fields.
As we drove though the lighting began hitting the ground ahead of us.
Watching the lightening come down out of the narrow strip of rain makes your stomach clinch and churn. It takes a lot less than that to make everything burn.
As we turned south towards home smoke was visible rising up to meet the clouds. From there I could tell though it was too far off to be us burning.
The relief of that is as great as the guilt for being glad it is someone else.
All evening small storms continued to roll through. Stepping outside to look at the sky and scan the horizon regularly I finally saw what I had been dreading.
Thick black smoke in the direction of the pasture where my cows are spending the summer. Staring intently and carefully gauging landmarks I decided it had to be north of them, the wind was still hard out of the south. They should be safe.
Just to be on the safe side I texted my husband to tell him I was going for a drive to check it out. Almost home from his job in town he said to wait, he’d go with me.
In his car we drove out. The smoke was well away from us. I texted a friend, yes it was by them but they were alright.
This morning the local fire dept. posted the story and pictures. 400 bales of hay and a few acres. Another one over a hundred acres of pasture.
Thankfully it wasn’t us but the drought shows no sign of breaking. Not this time doesn’t mean not next time.
We’ll keep watching the horizon for smoke and praying for rain.