Photo Roundup | May 14 – 20

Looking over pictures from the last couple of weeks, the beauty of answered prayers is just impressed on my mind.

And how many answered prayers! Recent and distant, present and past, big and small.

I think of how dry and drought-stricken we were a year ago. How many promising storms we watched build and dissipate without leaving us a drop of rain. I remember how short and stubbly the pastures were, how the grass headed out in June when it was barely six inches tall. I remember the dust we kicked up on the trail, the cracks in the earth. I remember the feelings of uncertainty and seeing the lines of care deepen on the faces that I love.

But God is a God who sees, hears, and provides. He listens. I look at these photographs and see green – so much of it! I see answered prayers.

He has provided rain. Good grass and hayfields that promise a yield. Healthy livestock. Good neighbors.

Then my mind wanders a little father back, to the life I was living two short years ago. The loneliness and unexplainable longings, the dreams and hopes and desires that had gotten snuffed out with the cares of life. My love of writing. My love of photography. My love of the outdoors and hard work. The desire to fit in somewhere. To belong somewhere. To belong to someone.

Then I look at these photographs that I took in the span of a single week and I see answered prayer after answered prayer.

God has provided a community. Belonging. Family. Friends. So much beauty to enjoy. Good work to do. A loving husband to walk alongside.

God is so good. All the time.

Lammers Branding 2023 | Old Ways and Good Neighbors

This time of the year is a highlight for many, and for good reason. After a long and often lonely winter, after the discouragements that can come after months of cold and dark and solitude, after dealing with the extremes of life and death during calving, branding season is a bright spot, a relief, a respite. Even a rough calving season can be followed by the best of branding seasons, and this has been a good one.

Some parts of the state and the country have modernized how they accomplish ranching tasks throughout the year, in ways that minimize the need for outside help. Even after my short time as a part of this community, I can understand the thought behind that, or how it might be necessary in some situations. Sometimes for whatever reason a whole community steps back from trading help and goes to a more independent model, so you don’t really have a choice but to follow suit. I get it. But what a loss!

Thankfully the majority of ranches in this community along Spring Creek, Battle Creek, and the Foothills, still participate in trading help, preserving a way of life that goes beyond the profession, preserving a way of life that necessitates the forming and maintaining of neighborly relationships, relationships that only serve to strengthen a community. Branding season is perhaps when this shines the most, and everyone not only reaps the benefits of having good neighbors, but of being a good neighbor.

Branding season is when you really see the importance of people stepping up and stepping in, sometimes last minute because life happens. Of communities working together and coming together in a way that has been lost from the culture at large but is still alive and well in the agricultural community.

It is a time when skills are taught, learned, honed, or re-learned. And no one ever qualifies out of all four of those categories. There is always something you can teach someone else, learn from someone else, do better at, or re-learn. Information is exchanged and even the most seasoned can glean from the hard-earned wisdom of others.

I’m thankful for those old ways. Old ways of learning skills and trading knowledge, of sharing work and life and fellowship. Thankful for neighbors and friends – old to my husband and his family, new to me. Thankful for this way of life.

Ranch Wife Musings | These are Good Days

These green days are good days.

These days are for earlier mornings up-and-at-’em, for before-sunrise coffee with my man, starting the day the right way.

These days are for chores in the early light and heading down the driveway with horses loaded on the trailer to help neighbors for a half a day, or however long it takes.

These days are for building and deepening relationships…between spouses, among family, and within the broader community.

These days are for all the growing things, from the calves in the pasture to the flowers in the garden to the wildflowers in the field.

These days are for hours in the saddle. Hours in the dirt. For some bumps and bruises and getting covered in dust and the smoke from the branding iron.

These days are for hard work, good work, wholesome work.

These days are for the sweetness of the fresh air, for the warmth of the sunlight, for the freedom of the open sky.

These days are for crawling into bed wonderfully tired, with muscles you forgot about a little sore and waking up maybe a little more sore.

These days are good days.

Lindblom Branding 2023 | Family and Community

What a great day we had on Saturday! A beautiful early morning gather, great help, perfect weather, not a smitch of dust, no (serious) injuries, healthy calves, and a hearty meal afterwards. I didn’t have a lot of time to take pictures, but managed to snag a few.

It sure is neat to see so many different people give of their time to help out and make things go smoothly. Some of these relationships go back generations. I have been told that the way our community functions is pretty unique, and I have witnessed and experienced myself how giving and gracious people are, helping without strings attached. There is the understanding that everyone does pitch in to help with this branding or that branding or that day of working cows, but people aren’t keeping records to see who showed up and who didn’t. It is pretty amazing. We have some great neighbors and friends! The line of pickups and trailers parked outside the branding corrals speaks volumes. I sure feel blessed to be a part of this family and this community!

Perli Gates Branding 2023 | Just Good

Another branding in the books! It was a good day at the Perli Gates, branding calves and working cows, and after the rain we had this weekend with the multiple postponed brandings, it is good to see neighbors and get some of the spring work going and done!

Some people say the word “good” and to them it means “good, but not great.” I say the word “good,” and to me it means just what it says. Not as a comparison but as a statement of fact.

And it really doesn’t get much better.

Good neighbors.

Good horses.

Good dogs.

Good work to do.

Good fellowship over coffee and again over supper.

There is so much to be thankful for when you can work alongside husband and family, work alongside neighbors who all look out for one another and get the work finished without any injuries, and then give thanks to God for a good day over a hearty meal at the end of it all. The branding rounds will continue the rest of this week and we’ll see many of the same neighbors as everyone pitches and gives of their time to get the work done.

The grass has greened up intensely over the last few days as the temps have warmed, and the views of Harney Peak and the Hills were gorgeous on the way home. We polished the day off with a few rounds of stick chasing, and finding the first lilac blooms.

It was a good day. Just plain good.

Photo Roundup | April 16 – May 13

The last few weeks of pictures (okay, month) got away from me! Spring work is going strong and we have just been busy! A good sort of busy. A lot of what we’ve been doing hasn’t been super conducive to carrying a camera around either, so maybe the photo crop has been a little slim week-to-week.

The end of April wrapped up with getting our pairs worked, which is fun work especially if the weather is beautiful, which it was. The calves look great. Between that project, and getting ready for our branding, and helping neighbors with theirs, and gardening projects, and the random sorts of projects that crop up when dealing with livestock, we haven’t had a lot of downtime. The chicks down in the brooder kindergarten in the barn are getting huge, not really chicks anymore and soon ready to join the big girls in the coop. The big girls are laying eggs like crazy. Last week, we finished my greenhouse (I’ll write more about that later!), and I got tomatoes, peppers, greens, and herbs going in it. They have already grown a lot, and seeds have germinated so much quicker than I expected. I’m optimistic about this gardening year!

This past month went by with a lot of “lasts.” The last heifers calved. The last cows calved. The last pairs were worked out of the calving pasture into the branding pasture. The last square bale was fed. The last frosty morning came and went (so far, knock on wood). The last panel was gathered up from around the calving shed and moved to the branding pasture. The last piano lessons were taught for the semester.

We also had lots of firsts. The first rainstorm. (And the next, and the next!) The first pasqueflowers, and then the first of the rest of the wildflowers, and the obligatory wildflower hunting. The first brandings. The first days working calves. The first nights with the windows thrown open. The first true gardening days. My first assignment as a contributing writer for Down Country Roads, a local magazine.

These firsts and lasts are the end of one season and the beginning of another, as calving season and summer are bridged by the excitement of the branding season, the camaraderie of working with family and neighbors, the fresh and early mornings and the warm middays, seeing the sun rise earlier and earlier and watching the sun set later and later. And with all the moisture we have had, we are actually excited for summer! The daily rhythm is punctuated by plenty to keep things interesting, plenty of the things that add spice and savor and sweetness and a little bit of chaos.

It’s a beautiful life. It really is.