Monday, March 31, 2008


Don't you just love YaYa's post? If you can make the time, drop her a happy birthday in the comment section. She'll be checking! We loved having her and her family visit the ranch over the weekend. They've visited before, but this time was a bit of a farewell for now as they are soon going to be living abroad in India. They will soon be starting a blog of their experiences. Be sure to check it out.

Having our friends move is just one of changes we've had on the ranch lately. And change can be difficult. When they are changes that I want I find them exciting and invigorating and hopeful, when it is not in my plan I find them scary, and I see every cloud as a harbinger of doom. Change is funny that way. It is often all in the perspective. And, of course, change is inevitable. How do you cope with change? I am a broody type and I tend thrash around in my mind too much and get all bogged down for awhile before I remember I float. Sometimes I even seem to fly.

This is a photo of Abbie and I riding on the front of the quad. Don't worry mom, we were going slower than it looks!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

YaYa's 4th Birthday

Um, I'm YaYa. I like to draw. This is a person that is sad because there is lightening. The other guy is going to get that rock. This is us picking stuff for my dinner. This is my birthday broccoli . I like this picture because it shows the flower on the horsey's tail. Riding the horse was for my birthday present and I liked it. This is me and my birthday cake. My cake was Princess Star. Momma made it!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Books and Bugs

Ok, I know, we are a day late in blogging, but I, at least, have a good excuse. I have succumbed to the bug that has been traveling around these north coast woods. Yes, I am sick and if you know me at all you know what a horrible patient I am; I moan, I complain, I roll around on my bed or on the couch, I panic when my asthmatic lungs seize up. Another thing I do is read. I would show you some cool photos of my ravaged face and oily hair, only thing is we are on internet probation again. So no photos. Sorry.

I love to read. It doesn't even have to be a good book. Just any book. I love the way the pages sound and smell as I thumb through them. I have been known to wander around bookstores and libraries with my nose in the air sniffing in sensual bliss. Yea, I am certifiable. I also cannot NOT finish a book and I never, ever read ahead. EVER. And what I start I finish. I am a little compulsive about this. Mark has no problem skimming and reading ahead, or just laying the book down for any number of months or years before he picks it up again. He also can have more than one book at a time started. Not me. I am monogamous with my reading. One book at a time, started in the beginning, read through page by page until the end and in the quickest possible amount of time. Obviously, sometimes I just have to not let myself read, because nothing else gets done. But when I am sick I have no such restriction. Like I said, I read just about anything. Except I don't really like trashy books. Not too often anyway. LOL.

Here are some of the final paragraphs of the book I finished yesterday, and no, it wasn't a bodice ripper. Sorry. See if you can figure out what book it is. The first one to guess right gets my copy, that is, if you want it.

The author is reminiscing about times spent at the Lincoln Memorial and goes on to say:

At night, the great shrine is lit but often empty. Standing between marble columns, I read the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address. I look out over the Reflecting Pool, imagining the crowd stilled by Dr. King's mighty cadence, and then beyond that, to the floodlit obelisk and shining Capitol dome.

And in that place, I think about America and those who built it. This nation's founders, who somehow rose above petty ambitions and narrow calculations to imagine a nation unfurling across a continent. And those like Lincoln and King, who ultimately laid down their lives in the service of perfecting an imperfect union. And all the faceless, nameless men and women, slaves and soldiers and tailors and butchers, constructing lives for themselves and their children and grandchildren, brick by brick, rail by rail, calloused hand by calloused hand, to fill in the landscape of our collective dreams.

It is that process I wish to be a part of.

My heart is filled with love for this country.

Ours too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Cowdog named Cait

She had a hard time deciding, but she decided to chose Cait, which we know was not one of the choices presented, but she liked it. All the names suggested were cute, but we already had an Abby and a Lily as regulars on the ranch and since she was found on the first day of spring, Wynter wouldn't do and Lani Moo was a close contender, but she thought it might get a bit confusing because every time we hollered Lani Mooooo, all the cows were sure to bellow too. Thanks for participating.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunrise

I woke up early this morning to make bread. I had promised my friends I would bring the rolls for their Easter lunch and due to all the shopping and live theater and travel, the only time available was pre-dawn. I always seem to cut things a bit close, but then again fresh rolls will be yummier.

As I awoke I found myself solitary and I wondered where my husband could have gone. I found him curled up on a thermarest on the kitchen floor wearing a winter parka and wrapped in an old blue quilt my grandma had made, with his new little love beside him. As he scrambled groggily off the floor he did make some amends for deserting our bed by telling me that the floor would have been more bearable if I had been next to him. Sweet. But still think I might have been replaced! She is a cute little thing though and if you haven't yet suggested a name please take the time to. It is difficult to not call her something.

Usually I prepare somewhat for Easter. I ponder the mysteries of Jesus, I fast, I meditate, I hike solitary over these hills and gullies. This year I shopped. Somehow I feel I've missed the mark. Gone astray. Lost my way. So as I kneaded in the pre -dawn stillness I thought of last year's Easter and the friends we had visiting and our conversation and laughter and joy and sorrow. Also, I remembered our songs and expectant hearts as we joined together and waited for sunrise. You all know who you are and I wanted to tell you that you are missed and I look forward to eternity when we will all be together. Forever.

Easter morning, 2007

The following is from "Visions of a World Hungry", by Thomas G. Pettepiece

Today is Resurrection Sunday. My first Easter in prison. Surely the regime can't continue to keep almost 10,000 political prisoners in its gaols! In here, it is much easier to understand how the men in the Bible felt, stripping themselves of everything that was superfluous. Many of the prisoners have already heard that they have lost their homes, their furniture, and everything they owned. Our families are broken up. Many of our children are wandering the streets, their father in one prison, their mother in another.

There is not a single cup. But a score of Christian prisoners experienced the joy of celebrating communion- without bread or wine. The communion of empty hands. The non-Christians said: "We will help you; we will talk quietly so that you can meet." Too dense a silence would have drawn the guards' attention as surely as the lone voice of the preacher. "We have no bread, nor water to use instead of wine," I told them, "but we will act as though we had."

"This meal in which we take part," I said, "reminds us of the prison, the torture, the death and final victory of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The bread is the body which he gave for humanity. The fact that we have none represents very well the lack of bread in the hunger of so many millions of human beings. The wine, which we don't have today, is his blood and represents our dream of a united humanity, of a just society, without difference of race of class."

I held out my empty hand to the first person on my right, and placed it over his open hand, and the same with the others: "Take, eat, this is the body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me." Afterward, all of us raised our hands to our mouths, receiving the body of Christ in silence. "Take, drink, this is the blood of Christ which was shed to seal the new covenant of God with men. Let us give thanks, sure that Christ is here with us, strengthening us."

We gave thanks to God, and finally stood up and embraced each other. A while later, another non-Christian prisoner said to me: "You people have something special, which I would like to have." The father of the dead girl came up to me and said: "Pastor, this was a real experience! I believe that today I discovered what faith is. Now I believe that I am on the road."

We do have something special. Not really a something, more of a someone. And, just like the first people to see Him after the resurrection, He meets us on the road. Wherever we are. On our road. He died for us, and even now is willing to live in us.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Tammie and some friends are in Ashland, watching plays and shopping, and being pampered. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I went to a neighbor's ranch today and picked out a cow-dog puppy. It's the beginning of spring, so I shaved off my beard, pruned the grape vines, toured the wildflower areas of the ranch, and got a dog. Quite a day. Now comes the part that you can help with. She needs a name. Mostly white with grey specks underneath, black and tan patches on her head, and lively, trusting eyes. One half border collie, one half Mc Nab, one eighth pit bull. Yeah, I know, but that way she can give 110%! Girly names will be considered, but I don't want the cows to think she is easy.

She's quite a handful!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Working Cattle/ Part 1

I am really tired and I am only doing this blog because it allows me to sit down. I really should be in the kitchen washing the piles of dishes that have accumulated during the last couple of days. I would show you a picture of the dishes, but I would have to get up and take a picture and I am too tired. I just hope I am not coming down with the bug that has been flying around the ranch lately, because tomorrow I head off with some lady friends to Ashland to see some plays and browse the shops. But that is not what this blog is about, I digress.

We have been busy gathering and then working with our cattle. We have been trying to teach them all the things good cattle should know, but I have to tell you they are a bit slow. So instead we decided to just make sure they got their vaccinations, were wormed and had the appropriate colored tag and had our mark emblazoned on their right hip. A few of the the young bulls also became steers, but we promised them we wouldn't talk much about that! They are a little embarrassed.

We also had company this weekend. Some friends of ours and their two teenagers showed up to tour the ranch.They didn't know they were going to be roped into working with cattle as well!

This is Travis's head.

And these are Travis's hands. I am not sure why I did not get a photo of the hands and face together, but I did not, so these will have to do. Travis was my chauffeur. Thanks Travis! We loaded my Kubota with hay and he drove me around while I did my famous calling in the cow yodel. " COME ON, COME ON LADIES! " Make sure you get the inflection right. You kinda have to drawl out the o's to sound like a cow bellow. That is what works. Mark tries to call them, but he can't quite get it right.

Here is a photo of Travis working with the cattle.

Do you see it? Hmmm. I don't either. That's because Travis thought it distressing. Smart young man. It is a bit distressing seeing the young bulls become steers. OOPS, I wasn't supposed to talk about that.

This is Travis's sister, Heather riding Charlie the Wonder Horse.

And here is a photo of Heather as an ear piercer. She said she would pass on the tatto work!

We also had our good and dear friend Johanna back. Don't you just love her hat!?
She brought along her big sister, Rebekah, who was our official cattle nurse. I'm not sure I would like her giving me my injection. She seemed to enjoy it all too much!
Rebekah brought along her fellow musician friend Jonathan. Jonathan showed up in some pretty snazzy slick bottomed sneakers, so we loaned him some boots and a hat for safety and for appropriate ranch fashion!
Jonathan is from Southern California and he told us that his parents would probably be pretty surprised at all the things he did this weekend. We promised Jonathan that we would post some pictures of his adventure on our blog so his parents could see proof of his weekend activities. (HI Jonathan's mom and dad! You have a great son.)

Here is Jonathan just taking off to round up some cattle. He looks a little anxious.
Later, I caught up with him and he was looking a little more confident. I do notice though that the hat is missing. Hmmm. I wonder how that happened?
Here is a photo of our riding round up crew. Jonathan is on Charlie and Johanna and Rebekah are riding their own horses, Chica and Image. Johanna was especially thrilled at the cow sense her young quarter horse had. She can't wait to come out and do it again!
This is Jonathan branding. Do you see Jo's smile hiding in the background? She is an old hand at branding and she got a kick out of watching Jonathan.
Here is Jonathan cooking our lunch. He told us that out of all the things he did this weekend, this would amaze his mom the most!?! So are you amazed, Jonathan's mom? What you can't see though, is Heather helping. Oh and about those dishes I mentioned earlier. Here is a picture of them now. My amazing and wonderful husband did them while I typed. Thanks Honey. And a BIG thank you to all the weekend wranglers! We owe ya.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Top of the Mornin' To Ye!

And please watch out for the wee ones, a lot of them got stepped on last year!

Friday, March 14, 2008


When the decision was made to shear Lacey, Eric The Bold jumped right in with a pair of borrowed shears and his usual enthusiasm. In the spirit of the event being held in a barn, he even taught Lacey some barn dance steps!

Lacey was cooperative, Eric was confident, and it seemed like this would be a piece of cake!

See what I mean?

Even though Lacey was beginning to show a few "shaving nicks" I didn't want to miss out on the fun. And the circus was drawing a crowd; our neighbor and friend Dennis (he and his wife raised hundreds of sheep in the past) Sarah, Donnie,Eric's friend Deven, Tammie, and I crowded around as the shearing progressed to the more curvy and delicate areas. Turns out that it was a great idea Tammie had inviting Dennis to the fun. His experience was crucial in finishing the process as the nicks became more common and and our concern grew for this trusting, docile volunteer. Wool is dense, resilient and tough. It felt more like foam than the fluffy hair that it resembles. The SKIN of a sheep, however, is very thin, supple, and delicate. The dexterity required to force the shears to separate the heavy, dense, matted wool from the skin without nicking is amazing! And Dennis told us that at the top of their game, a good shearer only requires 2 or 3 minutes per sheep! Our experiment lasted 90 minutes! Here is Dennis showing us how it is done...

He started with a cuddle. Probably a good idea, considering the circumstances.

Very quickly, it began to look like a baby Lacey emerging from a pile of dirty wool.

Dennis is good! A couple of new dance moves for Lacey, new directions for Eric, and the crowd went wild!

The girls were in charge of final inspection and "the right look".

Our sheep had a very long tail which, when wooly, interfered with several important body functions. Dennis used his burdizzo to fix the problem. Once again, Lacey surprised me by not reacting!

The freshly coiffed beauty! We applied a purple colored antiseptic to all of her boo-boos, and then, inspired by Operation Purple Horse, we made her fancy!

Maybe TOO fancy. During the entire 90 minute hair cut ordeal, she maintained a regal, if subdued air of patience. As if this was her weekly appointment at the salon. Today, the new do has clearly gone to her head! I'm glad. She earned it!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


This is Lacey. She was given to us. Thanks sis! She is a very docile and sweet sheep. We've grown attached to her barbecue skills and other winsome ways. We were originally planning to let her go with the Wild Rastafarian sheep that wandered onto our ranch years ago. Here 's the inspection delegation.But she didn't like them. She likes people. So we've decided to keep her as the official greeter of the ranch. She bestows her kisses quite freely.Well, MOST of the time! Sorry Jo. Better luck next time.

So, since she is a sheep of discernment, and spring has officially sprung it was decided the time had come to shear her and dock her tail, for hygienic reasons. If you, like us, have never removed the wool from a sheep, check back later for that post. An epic adventure awaits!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Poop Scoopin

We've been fixing fence. Whadya think? Pretty neat job, huh.

Seriously though, isn't life sometimes like this spider web of twine. You just have to make do and use what you have on hand. It is often quite messy, but by the grace of God it works somehow. You just gotta roll up your sleeves, grab the disconnected and broken parts of our lives and tie them together somehow. You do the best with what you have because while life is not perfect, it is wondrous and worth living.

I've been thinking a lot about life lately. Not that I didn't before, but a French movie I recently saw really has dug into my brain and it just won't let me go. I didn't really like this movie and I can't even say I'd recommend it, yet I am changed because of it. It's about the editor of Elle magazine, Jean-Do Bauby, who in 1995 suffered a massive stroke which effectively turned off his brain stem. The only thing he can move is one eye. With that one eye and some help of therapists they devise a system of communication where he is able to tell about his trapped life. The book they co-write is called, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and it is what the movie is based on. The cinematography is amazing and a little disconcerting, because it is filmed from the perspective of Jean-Do. As a viewer you feel the claustrophobia, the panic, the smallness of his world. But what is even more amazing is that you also come to realize through Jean-Do's courage and imagination the wonderful power of the human spirit to find joy in even the most horrendous of situations. So I have been looking at life through eyes refreshed.

I can be a real complainer and bellyacher. I always been that way. I am not proud of it, but it is true nonetheless. Now when my head hurts or the cows get out and I have to mend the fence with a bunch of old twine or there is a huge pile of horse manure for me to clean up, I feel that first twinge of complaint over the imperfections in life and then something else takes over and I give thanks. "Wow, I'm thankful I can feel pain." or "I get to chase cows and smell the musty earth and feel the burn of my muscles as I climb the hill " or "yipee, I get to scoop poop." You know when I think about poop lately, I realize that out of it often grows the best fruit. So get to scoopin.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

people and their pets

what part of this image is horse, and what part is human?

We have had pets die before, and I've buried two other horses, but our recent experience has raised a question: Why is the (anticipated) loss of our horse(s) so much more traumatic than any other pet/companion animal?

Eric's dog Jasmine lives with us now. She's eleven, has had several near-death experiences, helped raise all three children, is so infirm now that she sleeps inside by the fire, and offers unconditional love to the whole family. She has guarded the hen house, chased away the bogeyman, been sympathetic to anyone in despair, and always been enthusiastic with her affection. Even been the occasional hunting companion and partner in crime (just being in the vehicle makes you an accomplice). And yet, discussing the recent death of Woody, Eric knew that losing his horse would be a harder blow than losing Jasmine.

Perhaps it is only a matter of perspective, Jasmine has gradually aged with us and so prepared us for her passing. On the other hand, I have gradually aged next to Tammie, and am not at all more prepared for her passing.

Perhaps it is in the level and frequency of the risks we share with our horses.

We must trust them to obey our commands and keep their footing in difficult settings. We trust them to avoid killing us, though they easily could, while handling their feet. And on their part, they must set aside those innate instincts which have served their wild ancestors so well, and trust US to guide them and protect them. The very act of riding, as the photo shows, blurs the line between companion and master. We use them for work... but horse and rider both may crave this outing... more blurring.

I think we have come to expect that companion animals, such as dogs and cats, will love us and comfort us and choose to live with us. Horses, even domestic breeds, are however considered wild. This willing submission of a free, wild being to another is what I suspect sets the relationship apart. (And perhaps gives us a glimpse of why God would cherish the love and companionship of such silly creatures as us).

Tell me what you think.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Farewell to Woody

This is our friend Casey riding her horse Tono. She keeps her horses up here on the ranch and we love having her around. She is an amazing young woman with a big heart and she is always ready to lend a hand as well. Her horses are real sweethearts too. Lately, her older horse Woody has been having lameness problems. She has taken him to the vet repeatedly and today it was decided that Woody would have to be laid to rest. The infection in his hoof just didn't respond to the treatment and had progressed up into the bones in his hoof and leg. Poor Woody. Poor Casey. Our hearts reach out to them.
Looking through my photos I came across this one of Woody. I snapped it just a couple of days ago while working in the barn. I thought the heavenly streams of light a fitting farewell.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Buddy says, "HI!"

This is Mustang Buddy Boo. Our youngest son adopted him from the Bureau of Land Management in the spring of 2003. He wasn't such a goober then. He was wild. Very wild, as in never been touched wild. We often wondered what we had been thinking when we gave our then 16 year old son the permission to adopt the 3 year old gelding from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). When asked how progress was going in Buddy's training our typical response was, "Nobody died, so it was a success". And after one cracked rib and one broke arm and about 6 months time we were riding him. But boy how he loved to buck! When first saddled he bucked 26 minutes and he hated the saddle so much that we actually sat on him bareback the very first time because he trusted us more than that stinky piece of leather! We were patient and inventive in how we worked with him and now 5 years later he is a pretty mellow fellow. Last summer was his first year of being a mount for visitors to the ranch and he did just fine. He is never going to be a quality mount, he's sluggish and stubborn, but he's safe and knows how to walk down the trail fairly straight. He does have a tendency to weave and wobble a little! He likes to do a couple of silly tricks, like the half baked smile above and also a bow of sorts. Someday he might even learn to lie down and maybe fetch and sit as well!

You might notice in the photo that his face doesn't look quite right. Unfortunately, soon after we adopted him, he found a gap between the bottom corral board and the ground, only a couple of inches, but apparently it was enough room to tempt him to reach out his lips for something scrumptious, and he ended up getting his jaw caught which damaged a facial nerve and now he has a droopy ear and lip. Actually one whole side of his face sags, sort of like Bells Palsy. It really gives him a comical look and adds to his clown personality. Here is the view you get from the back of Buddy's back.

Being on this ranch is good for Buddy as he gets to roam free across our acreage with his little band of horses and now also a mule. And a little orange kubota 4x4 comes by regularly and a nice lady brushes him and gives him treats and occassionally he takes folks for a tour of the place that he calls home.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Untitled Family Poem

Daffodils are blooming in our yard and they brought to mind a poem I found laying on the kitchen table many, many years ago by one in our family. It is written on oil stained yellow legal paper and now after many years of being tucked away it is torn, wrinkled and marred by many little tiny holes made by thumb tacks that I have used over the years to display it. I really love this poem. It has no title, only the date of 3/1989. Maybe you can think of a title.

Is man a yellow daffodil,
reborn again in spring?
Alive within the cycle.
Is eternity a ring?

Or, do we have a mortal soul?
One life, one bloom, no more;
no wisdom of the ages,
no heroes at the door.

Then having just one season
to meet our love and fate.
With just one time for living
what fool shall practice hate?

And, if like the daffodil
our spirit is born anew,
surrounded by an innocence
like flowers washed with dew.

Then all the kindred spirits
living in their time,
should build a legacy of peace
and help their brothers climb.

Surely, he who lives forever,
through war and peace and wind,
shall wish his world to be a place
where all are known as friend.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

February Photo Review

Here are some of our favorite photos taken this past month that kind of capture the feel of our February.

Don't forget to tell us which is your favorite photo. At the end of the year we will have the 12 winning photos posted for a year end review. Thanks for participating!

P.S I didn't want to repost photos, so if you liked a photo posted previously in February better, let us know.