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.

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.

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.

Growth and Dreams and Change and Sameness

I knew I was getting close to (or had passed) my eight year anniversary writing this little blog, and I’ve been wanting to write a little something to that effect, and in gratitude for the people who read my blog. Some of you have been following along for years, and that means a lot to me. So to satisfy my curiosity I went back in my archives and, what do you know, eight years ago today I published my first post!

As I look back at some of my early blog content, a lot of things bounce around inside my head. One, what in the world was I doing with that camera? There are a few good pictures, mostly by accident. But more importantly I’m reminded of the excitement and difficulty of moving to South Dakota, of moving into an 800 square foot cabin with my parents and two of my three sisters, of sharing a bedroom with siblings as an adult, of starting over as an adult, beginning a new life in a new place and of learning to trust God with all the outcomes.

I look back and see so much change. I see struggles and losses and failures and dreams that were made and broken. I see so much growth – personal, emotional, relational, and spiritual. Yet I see at the same time I see so much sameness, heart longings that made no sense at the time, common threads woven through my entire life that speak to God’s love and His authorship of even our hopes and dreams.

I see seeds of desires that God has satisfied, one way or another, in His own time. I look at the beauty I was trying to capture with my camera, the things that tugged at my heart strings, and it amazes me to think that I am so wonderfully immersed in those things my heart was just starting to love. I look back at my early attempts at gardening, my love of the beauty of the Hills and the beauty of the agricultural lifestyle, and I see seeds for where God finally planted me. And then I look back further. When I was 10 or so, I had a memory book that had questions and space for written answers. One of the questions was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I answered, “I want to live in South Dakota and have horses.” Little did my 10-year-old self know that it would take 15 years to get to South Dakota, but that I would in fact get here! And little did I know in 2015 when I was working for the rancher who runs cows on my family’s place, and falling in love with the work and the outdoors and the dirt and the sweat and the smell of horses and cows, that eight years later I would be the wife of a rancher and a neighbor to the rancher I had worked for. Funny how life works. Correction, funny how God works. Sometimes those heart longings that make no sense are God’s way of foreshadowing the work He’s doing.

I look back on my early blogging and see an at times very lonely 20-something single gal, with desires that could only be satisfied by God in His own timing, doing her best to thrive where she was, growing in her trust of God, knowing that God is a loving God Who knows our needs and even cares about our heart desires, clinging to some of those hopes and dreams that honestly seemed hopeless, dreams of marriage and a little home in the Hills and a garden and maybe a couple of chickens.

I see the winding road, yet not so winding, that it took to get here. I see the little side roads I took, that filled life with spice and adventure and highlighted what was truly important to my heart, and made the “Yes” I gave to my rancher the most obvious decision of my life.

It’s like a garden. The first year you plant perennials, some do well, some don’t. Some die off over winter, others come back pretty hardily. There is growth in those first few years, and then they just take off and there is no stopping them. That’s the impression I have of my life, looking back on the 8 years since starting this blog, and the 8 years, 1 month, and 21 days since moving here. I see seeds planted that were slow to take off. Some did well but were pruned out eventually. Other just died off, and that’s fine. Others were slow to get started and have just exploded.

Life has overflowed. I came here with my books and my family and a college degree, and that was about it. I had no friends here, no community, a jumbled mess of recently-rediscovered dreams and disappointed hopes, and I hoped I would find somewhere I belonged. God has given me so much. He has brought struggle and loneliness and has allowed pain, and has been faithful through it. He has given me a life I love with a husband I adore, work to do with a new family that feels like blood family in a community that warms my heart and brings so much meaning to life. He has brought into my life all the spice and savor and sweetness I had dreamed of, and then more.

So I’m just sitting here thanking God for eight years in South Dakota, and eight years of this blog, and for those of you who read this blog and let me know when it touches your hearts. I’m thankful for growth. I’m thankful for change and sameness. I’m thankful for dreams and answers to prayer. I’m just thankful.

Riding Out the Storm

The meteorologists have downgraded the severity of the storm for today and tomorrow, which is a blessing! Plenty of moisture but without the winds, we’ll take it! Local power outages have been restored, and all in all things are going well. I don’t know what they’re expecting as far as additional snow totals, but the winds aren’t supposed to be as wicked as anticipated. Temps will be pretty miserable tonight and tomorrow morning, but it sounds like it should be better than initially thought.

The pups went with me to do chores this morning and they promptly regretted it. They abandoned their solo floundering and followed along in my footsteps, the snow more or less up to their ears. As heavy and deep as the snow is, I had to stop a few times on my way down to take a breather, and on the way back up my tracks were mostly drifted over again. The wind howled so I couldn’t hear anything else, but I’d occasionally check behind me and there were the pups, trotting along obediently right behind me, completely frosted over except little holes where their eyes were.

The chicken coop is snug and actually feels warm (which it should, with 29 birds in there), and the girls were busy about their egg-laying by the time I got down below. The chicks in the barn are likewise toasty and comfortable and our barn cats are well-situated.

Checks went well up north this morning, and when Brad got home I went out to help him feed hay to all the cows on our end. Gate-getting isn’t a job to be laughed at, that’s for sure. It actually saves a lot of time, as silly as it might sound. Down in the hayfield, we had locked a bunch of dry cows up with access to water and a windbreak, and they were making good use of the buddy heat method, but looked pretty annoyed at their situation. However, up in the timbered pastures it was delightful to look down into a draw or sheltered spot and see a group of excellent mama cows with their calves tucked away in the plum and chokecherry thickets. They couldn’t have been more snug if they were in a barn. The calves surged in waves in front of the tractor, like little black dolphins in a white sea. It made me laugh.

The stackyard was impressively drifted over, with drifts as tall as the bales of hay, and even with non-blizzard winds all tracks filled in just about as quickly as we could make them. The fourwheeler barely made it up to the house.

We’ll hang tight for a bit before venturing out to finish up everything, but my snowshoes are staged by the door for my run down to the barn. It’s a great day to take advantage of a warm house, hot tea, and a good book. And a few puppy cuddles.

Tucked In

What a beautiful morning to wake to! We have gotten a solid 13 inches of wet snow here, based off my measurements on the back deck, and could be getting about a half inch an hour for the next 12 hours. The trees are cloaked and lovely.

We’re thankful for all the storm prep we did the last few days and are anticipating a worsening of conditions as the winds pick up, which they already are. Snow is falling a little heavier than it was at sunrise. Brad and Dave are out feeding everything before it gets much worse, and we already know of live calves that were born in this storm, which is very encouraging. Cattle are safely bedded in sheltered locations and yesterday’s tucking in appears to have been a success. We are very thankful!

Other than feeding and other normal chores, we’re set up well to hopefully be able to just keep food and water in front of animals and then more or less stay tucked in ourselves to ride out this blizzard as it worsens over the next few hours.

The pups are already intensely stir-crazy at 8am, busy disemboweling their toys and turning the living room into a jungle gym. They’ve gotten a stern talking to already which resulted in approximately three and a half minutes of quiet. The cozy ambiance is rather disrupted by the sound of bodies hitting the floor, snapping teeth, trampling of feet, and the occasional puppy or puppy toy flying through the air. This could be a long day.