Friday, December 21, 2012

Psalm 23:1-3

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, HE RESTORES MY SOUL...."

Just let that verse take effect for a second or two.  Put yourself in that place.  Green pastures.  Beside a quiet little stream.  Smell the sweet smell of the spring time grass.  Feel the warm sunshine on your face as you lay there.  Maybe you're waiting for a few pair left to pair up after a drive to summer pasture.  Maybe there us a calf calling for his mama in the distance.  Maybe your trusted steed is grazing peacefully nearby.  Maybe you put your hat over your face and drift off for a short little cat nap after a very early morning start........ 

Is there anything more peaceful?  Nope, I don't think so.  I can't count the number of times in my life that I have lived a scene just like this (except the quiet stream was more than likely a tank and windmill pumping in the breeze) and I just took it for granted.  This morning, as I read a devotional with this verse, I was filled with peace.  I was in THAT place.  And I realized I've had that peace in my life all along.  I realized I can lie down in green pastures and be beside the still waters any time. 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Man's Best Friend

I love dogs.  I've always loved dogs.  Granted, I love about every kind of critter there is, but I really do love dogs.  Throughout my life, my family has had quite a few different kinds of dogs and I have loved every one.
And dogs like me too.  I can only think of one dog that I've known that didn't like me.  And it really bothered me that it didn't......

When I used to rodeo and go to barrel racing jackpots a lot, I knew everybody's dog.  And I knew everybody's dog's name.  I'm pretty sure I could have gotten into just about anybody's horse trailer tack room and stolen their stuff because their dogs would have let me.

But of course, MY dogs are the most special to me.  My dogs are getting old now.....that's how it works, you know.  If they live long enough and are cared for good enough, well..... they get old.  Just like people.

Deets is a Border Collie.  He's eleven now.  I owned his dad until cancer took him from me just 2 weeks before Deets was born.  I gave him his name from the character in the movie, Lonesome Dove.  After the character, Josh Deets is killed, his friend Woodrow F. Call, carves a tombstone for him.  It reads, "Cheerful in all weathers.  Never shirked a task.  Fought with me in 21 engagements between the Kiowa and Commanche."  I wanted my dog to be like that, so that's why I named him Deets.  He wasn't a bad cow dog in his time.  Kind of like a young horse, you had to get him worn down a little because he liked to push pretty hard.  But he tried to do what you wanted.  He always tried his best.  I admit, I lost my temper with him a couple of times but he always forgave me and came back wanting to please me.  I'd say he has been "cheerful in all weathers".

Deets has been great with kids and adults alike.  His passion, after chasing cattle, has been chasing a stick or a ball.  No one comes to our yard (or Dad's if he happens to be there) that Deets doesn't bring them a stick or a ball to throw for him.   He loves to "go"......I think he prefers the front of the pickup to riding on the back, but I don't think it really matters, just as long as you take him along.  He has gotten to the point that he can't jump on the back any more....I have to pick him up and put him up there.  I think it embarrasses him a little.  He's still a proud old man, you know.   And he will sit in the front with me when I'm feeding cows and pant.....and pant.  But he certainly wouldn't want to stay home.  He might miss something, I guess.

Actually, I think Deets just wants to be with me.  I don't know that he would protect me much if someone tried to hurt me.  He'd probably just wag his tail and pester them with a stick or ball WHILE they were hurting me! 

We have been pretty busy getting all the Fall work done, so I guess we hadn't taken much time to give old Deets a proper petting for a while.  A few weeks ago, I noticed he had been losing quite a bit of weight.  His backbone was just as bony as  an old cow's.  And then he just quit eating.  He slept almost all the time and didn't want to go in the pickup.  He seemed depressed.  He just wasn't "Deets".  So we took him to see my friend, Doctor Susan, a great small animal vet who grew up not too far away from here.  She was pretty concerned.  It could be cancer like his dad.  Or quite a few other things.  So she kept him at the clinic for a couple of days to do tests and watch him.  I was worried sick.  It was pretty hard to think about anything but my old dog. 

But the next afternoon, Doctor Susan called and said he didn't have any cancer that she could find and she had gotten him to eat.  The meds she'd given him seemed to be working.  She was "cautiously optimistic" that he was doing better.  We got to bring him home the next day......and every day he has been getting better and more like his old self.

The sad thing is, I know we won't get to have Deets forever.  Dogs are a temporary part of our life.  Like his old dad, I'll have to dig a hole one of these days and lay him to rest.  It's mighty painful to say goodbye to our old friends....whether they are animal or human.  But that's part of it.  When Deets' dad died and I was out digging his grave, my dad came over to see how I was getting along.  I was crying and wiping tears and snot and still digging.  My dad said, "that's why I don't have a dog.  'Cause it's too hard."  And I looked up at him and said, "I wouldn't trade this hurt I feel right now for all the joy this dog has brought to me."

I read a little saying about dogs a while back that I will share with you.  I probably won't quote it quite right, but I'm pretty sure I'll get close enough that you'll get the idea of it.

"When our dogs die, they take a little piece of our hearts with them, leaving us with a piece of theirs.  It is my hope to live long enough, that my heart will be made up of all of my dogs' and none of mine."

6/4/2013.....Deets passed away on May 13, 2013 from congestive heart failure.  He died after a big day of playing with kids who were here for our branding.  We laid him to rest up on a hill over east of our house where he spent a lot of time.  He surely is missed.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


For my entire elementary schooling, I went to a one room country school on the "outskirts" of Ringgold, Nebraska, located right on Highway 92, between Stapleton in Logan County, Nebraska and Tryon in McPherson County, Nebraska.  It was a pretty happy time in my life, filled with book learnin' and prayer before lunch.  At recess, playing games like "steal sticks" and "pum-pum pull-away",  "fox and geese" when it snowed and building great snow forts when there were big snowstorms. We took great pride in being from District #59 and dubbed ourselves the "Ringgold Gophers" for some reason I can't now remember.

My parents and the parents of all the kids I went to school with during that 8 years, never gave a thought to our personal safety or well being......any more than they would have if we had been at home with them.  There was never a fear that someone would come into our little school and harm us.  I understand that many, many years have passed since I was a student at District #59.  Times have changed for sure. 

My heart breaks for the families of the children and teachers gunned down in Connecticut yesterday.  I cannot imagine the grief they must feel.  I am deeply concerned for the children who witnessed this terrible sick act.  I pray that with time, this tragedy will fade from their memories.  I know from personal experience that kids are resilient and I pray these kids receive and extra dose of it.

And today, many folks are trying to make this horrific tragedy into something else.  A debate.  Could this have been prevented?  Maybe.  However the evil that caused this young man to do something so unspeakable, regardless of  his just that.  Evil.  Is it a mental illness?  My mind cannot process it in any other way.  Is this the fault of anti-gun laws?  Could it have been prevented if instructors were armed?  In my opinion, it is doubtful......however, I do believe it might be a deterrent in the future.  But on the other hand, what's to stop unarmed people with evil in their hearts from coming into a school and taking the firearms to commit the unthinkable?

Did God "allow" these children to be killed because prayer has been taken from our public schools?  I do NOT believe so......however IF prayer was still allowed I believe some kids might grow up a little differently.  If  God, family values and traditional morals were placed higher on everyone's list, perhaps the world might be a little better place in general.  If sick individuals with a death wish were forgotten and their names not publicized so intensely MAYBE it would deter others from choosing something like this. 

And yet with all the terrible news we hear every day, I still do not doubt the existence of wonderful, beautiful, loving people in this world.  People that can be trusted and looked up to.  People who come to the aid of others.  Heroes.  I know there were heroes on hand yesterday.  Most of them are probably not with us today........and THOSE are the people I hope we will all remember.  As their names are released, remember them, talk about them.  Honor them.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Important Things Are Good

Well, we are finally getting caught up on our Fall work.....the calves are all weaned and the cows are out on winter range.  Granted, there isn't quite as much winter range as we'd like, but we are blessed with something to get us by until about the first of the year.  Then it will be time to feed hay to the cows, regardless of the weather.

We still have one bunch of calves left to give booster shots and two bunches to sort for sex and the replacement heifers to sort and the rest of the heifers to get EID (age and source) tagged.  That MAY seem like we have a lot to do, but compared to everything that's behind us, we are definitely on the downhill side of Fall work.

It's gone pretty good.  A couple bunches of cows have not penned very well......we're trying to cull out the nasty bunch quitting old sallys and give them a much deserved trip to see the sights of town.  We culled down a little heavier than we usually do, but it was a necessary evil.  Some of those old gals were getting quite a bit of age on them and it was starting to show.  But the ones we kept, pregged up good and look really good into this first week of December.  The calves have been healthy, such a blessing.  And I'm so doggoned proud of my replacement heifers, I darn near bust a button every time I go feed them.  I wish somebody would come look at I could brag on them a little.  And I hope I'm still bragging come the first of March when they start calving.

We made a couple of improvements this year that helped us a bunch.  The first was the purchase of a hydraulic working chute.  Boy, I tell ya, my shoulders sure enjoy standing there letting my two hands do all the work!  It seems to be easier on the cattle and getting rid of our homemade, "made for elephants" palp cage, made it much better for the calves to not get turned around in the alleyway.  The second improvement was just me using Maggie (who has turned into quite a little cutting horse, I must say!!) to bring cows up the sorting alley.  The cows have a lot more respect for Maggie than they do little old Dad and me waving our arms and sorting sticks.  Maggie pins her ears and most of the time that's all it takes for them to trot right up to the chute.

So despite the fact that summer was rough....the roughest anyone around here has ever seen, we are getting along.  And doing well.  We are blessed.  And we are still grateful to have the opportunity to do what we love in a place we love and I'm with the people I love the most.....Matt and Dad.   My friend Virgilene often says, "the important things are good".  And she is right.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Time Will Tell

It's going to be a tricky winter.  Some folks are saying it's going to be a bad one for snow, while others are saying we'll probably have more of the same conditions we've been having.  Either way, it will be something to deal with.

I contracted my cottoncake for the cows and calves yesterday.  Let's just say that it's going to be VERY expensive.  But you'd expect that.  With the drought we expect less corn, beans, wheat, etc than were initially expected, driving the prices up.....Way up.  Much of  the yields will not be poor since a majority of farmers have some kind of irrigation here in the middle of the US.  Dryland crops will be much less than projected early this spring.  Because no one really projected that we were heading into a drought season.  It's one of the "sh*t runs down hill" type things that has an effect on everyone.

Hay prices are absolutely through the roof.  I've talked to several ranchers who have "wet meadows" they put up hay on.  They are able to mow places they haven't been able to mow in many years because it is so dry.  The hay isn't as good as it has been, but it's going to beat a snowbank.....if we get any.  We hear folks are bringing in alfalfa hay from Canada for $400/ton.  Let me put that in perspective just a bit for you.  In a normal year, we feed roughly 10 ton A DAY.  We are a pretty small operation compared to some.  Fortunately for us, we have had a surplus the last few years and have added to our hay this year from our pivot of alfalfa.  There's still a chance we might be able to get a fourth cutting which won't be a lot of hay, but it will be hay we didn't have before.  Depending upon the winter conditions, we should have enough to get us through the winter.

It's definitely a learning time for many of us.  We have had things so good the last few years that for the most part, it's been a "no-brainer" getting through each season.  For me anyway, it's been a year of a lot more "putting the pencil to the paper" , so to speak.  One good thing about us ranchers.......we spend a lot of time alone where we are able to do a lot of thinking. 

But to me, the thing that is perhaps going to trip some of my fellow ranchers up (and I could be wrong about's pretty much just speculation here) is what's going to happen next year.  While our cows still look good now, I believe that is the benefit of the last few years of good grass and nice winters.  I think a cow's system is actually a year behind what her body looks like.  So it could be difficult to care for the cows this winter.  I think, more than ever,  nutrition will be key this year.  And perhaps we'd be ahead to feed better than usual, to try getting our cows through this difficult time and have them ready for calving and breeding season NEXT YEAR. 

Time will tell what the cattle industry holds for the next few years.  I'm sorry to say this drought will probably put some producers out of business, like it did for cattle producers in the southern states.  Others will squeak by and still others will somehow make a lot of money from others' misfortune.  Again, I will be trusting my "Heavenly Cow Boss" to help make the right decisions and to bring us through a difficult time.  Whatever happens, I know He will be there to take care of us and bring us through better on the other side.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fighting Fire

It's still mighty dry in the Sandhills.  And while we haven't had a lot of lightening in recent weeks that hasn't led to a  little moisture, there is still a terrible threat of fires.  The humidity is down to around 20 percent on a lot of days, so even a tiny spark (caused by a piece of haying equipment, a cigarette, a catalytic converter on a pickup, or anything else you can or can't imagine) could lead to a fire right now.  All of us who live and love the Sandhills are walking on eggshells being so careful.  But still, accidents happen.  Just like yesterday.

I don't know for sure what caused the fire.  Word was, a combine or other such equipment caused a spark, but no one seemed to know for sure.  What was certain is there was a big ol' fire.  And it was comin' at a high lope.  The high winds were out of the southwest, then out of the southeast and sometimes straight out of the south.  Some folks don't know that a fire can make it's own wind too.  So not only did this fire have a lot of fuel to burn, it was taking on a life of it's own.  And let me tell was angry.

It all works like this......our local volunteer fire department will get a call for either a fire in our county or a mutual aid to another county.  If it's like it was yesterday and the fire is burning pretty much out of control, the fire department will call ranchers on their list who are known to have "grass rigs" (sprayers set up on a smaller scale of the fire department's) to come help.  Most of the time, if we see smoke, we are trying to find out where the fire is already and heading in the direction of it.

We got the call about the end of the first quarter of the Husker game.

Since we have been to quite a few fires already this year and it is never a pleasant thing to know folks are losing property, I can't say Matt or I was looking forward to going.  But we go.  We go because we know how it would be if it was us.  We'd sure want folks to come help us if it was our grass on fire.  My heart breaks every time we go to a fire and I see folks trying to move their cattle out of the way.......I have to fight awful hard to hold back tears.  I am not holding them back now.  When I think of how it would be for me to be afraid for my livelihood, what I work for and love, I can almost not bear it.  I love the hills and the grass and I most certainly hate seeing anyone's property damaged.....but the cattle....they are my passion, I guess.  And I assume they mean as much to others as they do to me.  So it is especially hard to think of something happening to them.

I am guessing this fire was a good 30 miles from us.  Now it might seem silly to drive all that way to a fire and leave your own backyard where something could happen, but especially on a day like yesterday, it was pretty obvious from the smoke billowing up in the air, that we could plainly see from our house, that they were in definite need of help.

Our grass rig is set up on my cake feeding pickup.  The tank holds 200 gallons of water and can either be filled with a hose on the top, or we can suck up water out of a stock tank.  At the bigger fires, there will be several "tankers" from the fire departments who are back a little bit from the fire but still close enough we can get to them, fill up and get back to the fire pretty quickly.  Our fire department has blue lights flashing on the top of theirs, so if it's dark out, you can look for blue flashing lights and know where to go fill up.  If we don't see a tanker close by, we look for a stock tank to fill out of.  Generally if there are cattle in that pasture (or a year like this one) the windmill will be on and pumping and we can get water for our tank there.

Actually fighting the fire is kind of a case by case deal.  But there are a few rules, if you will, that everyone needs to know.  One big rule is to get in the black if you are in trouble.  The black is where the fire has already burned.  If it's already burned, it can't burn again so you can be safe there.  Another rule most of us ranchers go by is to stay at the back of the fire.  The fire departments are way better equipped to put out the big head fires.  Those can get BIG!  And ferocious.  But on occasion, the ranchers are forced to the front if, for instance, the fire department isn't there yet, or there are just too many head fires going at once.

If a little bit of fire gets left going, it can cause a "finger" to come up the back side of the fire.  That happens pretty often, especially if there aren't enough people fighting in the same spot.  Ideally, on a bigger deal like yesterday, several rigs can follow each other, and each one puts out a little more fire, making sure it's completely out.  Right on the edge of the fire there can be bits of grass or a soapweed or a cow chip left smoldering that can spark into the dry grass next to it and start the fire burning again.  So even after the whole thing is out, we need to go around "mopping up" (usually the fire departments do this....thankfully) and just keep dousing the edges with water to make sure nothing gets away.

I will absolutely not drive on the fire line.  For one reason, because I have a tendency to get a little shook at these deals.  I am also short enough that I can barely see over the hood of the pickup and in some of the places we go, it would be pretty easy to drive off into a big hole or blowout.  But the main reason is because I trust Matt to take care of me.  And he is smart in scary situations. So I am on the back of the pickup, spraying water.  I get bumps and bruises and have gotten pretty hot on a few occasions, but have never really been scared to be back there.....mostly because if I holler at Matt to get us out, he gets us out. 

Yesterday was a little different than any fire I have been to before.  The smoke was worse than anything I've ever been in.  There were moments when Matt literally could not see the grill guard on the front of the pickup.....that's bad.  Because you know if YOU can't see, no one else can either.  We would have to pull out of the fire to a place where we could see, leaving the fire to keep burning.  Then go back to the back and start again.  We finally got a little different game plan on this fire, to go against the grain, so to speak and stay out of the majority of the smoke.  It's not how it's usually done, but it worked.

We are most definitely looking forward to some snow cover this winter, although, I have to admit, it doesn't look too promising for that to happen.  We will keep looking to the sky and praying for whatever moisture the Good Lord will send us.....and thanking Him for blessing us with no fires.....

Saturday, July 28, 2012


It's been a particularly dry, hot and windy summer here in the Sandhills.  My beautiful green, lush pastures are mostly brown and dried.  There have been prairie fires, mostly started by dry lightening, all around us.  Folks are getting scared.  Scared of more fires.  Scared of a tough winter.  Scared of not having enough range to get through the summer.  Scared we'll have sick calves.  Scared....scared....scared. 

I have to admit, I've had quite a few moments when I've been pretty scared, too.  I have felt great defeat.  I have stopped out in the pastures, got down on my knees and wept.....and prayed....prayed for rain, prayed for strength, prayed for wisdom to know how to regroup and handle something I've never had to tackle before.   I've admitted to God how scared I've been. 

We've helped neighbors fight big prairie fires and we've seen what our neighbors to the north, up near the Valentine area are experiencing.  We look to the skies and pray for rain and it seems like all we receive in return is a few sprinkles and more dry lightening strikes.  The hot days and the dry hot winds make it easy to forget the days of winter.

Truth is, we are spoiled.  Moisture has been so plentiful the last few years that we have forgotten what dry conditions are like.  We have to remind ourselves that generations before us have experienced these things too......and most of all, we have to remind ourselves "this too shall pass."

I have been given comfort in knowing that I'm doing what the Good Lord put me on this earth to do.  He wouldn't have put me back here in the Sandhills so long ago and put so many things in my favor if that weren't so.  And so I live with the faith that He will give me what I need when I need it, to get me through this rough time.  And while I have most definitely had moments when I have questioned why God would do this to us, when we are doing our best to do His will, I have to remind myself again of the truths I know from His word and not from what I see.  Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  I remind myself of this, sometimes hourly.....Philippians 4:20 "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."  Proverbs 3:5,6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."  Psalms 55:22 "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." And even if I DO fall, He is there to pick me up and give me something better....There are several others, but these are the main ones I try to hold on to.

Because I have faith in my God, I know, without a doubt we will overcome this rough time.  He is bigger than a drought.  He is bigger than a prairie fire.  He is bigger than any problem I can face.  And He has always brought me through tough times in better shape than before.  So I know He will again. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


When we start working with a young horse, he doesn't always trust us at first.  From the day he is dropped on the ground or he comes to your place, you are working on gaining his trust.  We do that by never putting that horse in a situation where he gets hurt.  He can be scared of something, he can question something and that's ok.  It's ok to be scared.  It's ok to question.  We just have to show them that whatever that scary thing is, is really just something that looks scary but really isn't.

The first time I took my little Maggie mare through a deep puddle, she was scared.  It didn't look like a good deal to her.  The ground didn't feel right, I suppose.  She tried to go to the right and then the left.  She tried to go every direction she could to keep from going through that water.  She was looking for the easy way out.  But I just kept bringing her back to that place and encouraging her to go forward...I waited for her to find the right way.  When she finally made a "try" in the right direction, I let her sit.  I petted her and let her relax.  I showed her that was the easy place.  Then I asked her for a little more.  Eventually, she got the idea that it would be ok and she walked, hesitantly, through the puddle.  Now when I ask her to go through a puddle or cross water, she still doesn't just go blundering through it.  She puts her head down, has a sniff and a look before she any smart horse would.

Now the reason I'm telling you this is because I have been thinking a lot lately about lessons in trust that the Good Lord gives us.  When we are new Christians, we are a lot like Maggie was when I was teaching her to cross that water.  God puts us in situations to teach us trust.  And it looks scary to us.  We question it.  The "ground doesn't feel right to us", so to speak.  We go left and we go right.  And He does just like I did with Maggie.  He just keeps nudging us back to the middle where we are supposed to go.  He's patient with us.  And when we finally learn that we can cross that water and it will be ok, well, we gained a little trust.  But probably next time, we'll still put our head down and have a look before we cross the water any smart horse would.

The thing is, we'd all like to have God just wave his hand and do a miracle all the time.  Sometimes He does that.  But sometimes, He puts us in situations that are tough, that we don't like one bit.  I've put Maggie in those places too.  And what happened when the day was over?  If I did things right, she trusted me more.  Why?  Because everything turned out ok.  And see, that's how God does with us.  He puts us in those places we don't like because at the end of the day, we'll learn that we can trust Him more.  What would we gain if He just waved His hand all the time and did a miracle?  It's a much better learning experience for us if we have to go through something with Him, just like Maggie has had to with me.  She knows she can trust me now.  And because of all the "tests" the Good Lord has put me through, I've learned that I can trust Him.  He will ALWAYS bring me through.  He will always take care of me and make me better if I just trust Him.  It's not always easy, mind you.  I still try to go left and right sometimes.  I still look for the easy way......and it is ALWAYS with Him.  But He's patient with me.  He waits on me.  And I'm sure grateful that He does.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It Has Been a Short Year

My how the time flies!  Seems like just yesterday we were putting cows out to winter pasture and now here it is almost summer.  We have been busy, but it has been an awfully good spring. 

Weaning went so well and with so few sick calves, I guess that's why it seemed to go so fast.  If you have lot's of trouble and bad weather, the hours pass like days, but when things go well, time passes quickly.

Winter brought us one big snow.  We had 18 inches of light snow by the time that day was over.  It seemed to be pretty much localized to our little part of the county.  Further north or west, there were just a few inches of snow.  Thankfully, the wind didn't blow too badly during the storm so the drifts weren't too bad.  We had purchased a 4 wheel drive tractor a year ago and a big loader for it this year.  That made things MUCH easier to get around so I didn't have to sit around stewing about the cows not getting fed.  Several bunches were "snowed under", meaning they got in a hole and the snow got so deep around them they didn't think they could get out.  For one bunch, Matt and I had to make a trail on foot for them to follow us out because it was on a side hill that would have been too dangerous to take the tractor.  But within a day or two, the temperatures warmed up and the snow started melting.  It left us with some good moisture for spring grass.

Calving started off on the wrong foot.  The first ten days of calving out heifers, I pulled at least one everyday.  The upside to that was the purchase of that great maternity pen I talked about.  And then, after those ten days, I don't think I pulled or lost another calf.  Out in the cows, there was less of the crazy things that can go wrong, the weather was VERY cooperative making things go well.

We had an unusually warm spring with nice rains instead of snow.  The grass started to come on much earlier than usual, which allowed us to stop feeding hay to the cows much earlier than usual....saving us time and money!  This also helped the cows pick up earlier than usual and made them start cycling earlier.  All good things.

Branding day sort of snuck up on me, on account of how well things had been going.  It just seemed like time went by so quickly that it didn't seem like it should be time to brand the calves.  But brand them we did and I'd have to say we had as good of a crew to help as we have ever had.  

There was a little glitch in my smooth spring when we started trying to get our water ready in our South summer pastures.  A tornado had gone through several months before and I had not gotten down there to really look things over as soon as I should have.  One windmill tower and motor was damaged extensively and required quite a lot of repair.  A new well had to be put in another pasture and several tanks had to be set.  (the new well and tanks weren't due to the tornado, just things that had been put off too long and couldn't be put off any longer).......and then we didn't get any wind to fill the tanks after we got everything fixed!! 

Yesterday, we finally got the first bunch of pairs South.  Everything traveled well and we had the perfect cool weather, albeit a bit damp for my taste, for cows and calves to travel.  This morning, I'll go see if everything stayed where we put them and fix anything that didn't.  Then it will be off to get another bunch ready to go the first of the week.
It won't be more than a couple of weeks and we'll be cutting our alfalfa for the first time.  It will be much earlier than usual too.  If we don't get hail or an early frost, we might get an extra cutting from it, which will be nice if we happen to have a bad winter next year.

Next year??  How is it that I'm already thinking of that? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Back in school, I was pretty good at math related subjects...algebra, business classes, those kinds of things were pretty easy for me.  But geometry....I just couldn't get the hang of all those angles and triangles and all that stuff.

So it's pretty amazing to me how much I use angles in my day to day life.  You see, herding or cutting or sorting a cow requires the use of angles.  The older I get and the more I do it, the more I realize this to be true.  Even if I'm on a young horse that doesn't really know yet how to do the cutting itself, if I get the right angle on a cow, I can do what I need to with her.

Using the correct angle becomes really important if you are using a 4 wheeler to sort a cow.  You can't turn one of those things around very short at all. (well you can, but you have to turn the handlebars, gun the motor and spin the back end around.  It's fun but isn't real productive if you are trying to be careful with a less than cooperative critter)  It doesn't take a cow long to figure out she can out maneuver you when she doesn't want to cooperate.  So I have to use my noggin a little and outsmart her with angles.

Case in point, yesterday morning when I was riding through one of the north bunches, a cow had gotten herself on the wrong side of the fence and had her calf.  There wasn't a gate close by, so I put the fence down and tied it and thought I would just push her back over.  Nope.  She wasn't having it.  Her calf was maybe four hours old and he was plenty cooperative.  Momma, not so much.  She was pretty sure she ought to whip me and every time I got very close to her, she kept on coming toward me.  In a pretty serious mode.  A cow can get a look in her eyes that tells you she means business. And trust me, this girl had it.  When they do that, " shake their head and blow snot thing", while they're coming toward you in a hurry, it makes me nervous.  I was wishin' for a horse about then.....a cow looks you right in the eye when you are on a 4 wheeler.  And when she's acting like she wants to whip you.....that's not a good feeling.  At. All.  Of course, it isn't a very good feeling when a cow hits your horse either.  But that's a story for another day. 

So I need to not only use some creativity and quite a bit of cow sense here, I need to keep the correct angle on her.  An angle so she doesn't escape or think she can, that will keep her moving in the direction I want her to go, without antagonizing her so she crawls over the 4 wheeler to get me and have me for breakfast.  A person thinks you should just be able to get behind a cow and they'll go, but especially right after a cow has calved, most of the normal rules don't apply.  I also need to take my time with this cow.  Let her have plenty of space, but not too much. 

It was slow....we covered an area of maybe 50 yards in about a half hour.  Seriously.  I think I just outlasted her.  She got tired of me and went is what I think finally happened.  But I had a lot of time to think about the angles I wanted to use with her......and during a period of time, the angle I wanted to use to retreat.  But all's well that ends well.  Whether or not it was my cow sense or my stubbornness that got the job done.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some Days I Don't Much Like My Job

The other day while riding through the heavy was beautiful.  The sun was shining. The grass just coming on.  Barely a breeze. My Maggie mare walking on a loose rein through the cows. The air felt perfect.  Perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  Until.....way off to the north I could see something.  Something that didn't look quite right to me.  I can't really tell you why it didn't look right.  Just one of those things you kinda get so you can tell after a while, I guess.  I picked up Maggie to a trot and headed over to check it out. 

Long before I reached my destination, I was pretty sure what I was going to find.  And unfortunately I was right.  It was an older cow that couldn't get up.  I don't know why this happens.  I do my best to keep it from happening.  I cull everything I think might have a tough time during the winter.  I write down and make sure I look up anything that's slow or lame.  Bless this old gal's heart.  She'd made it through the tough part of the year.  It's green grass time!  But for some reason, it was too much for this old gal.  And to top it off, she'd had her calf, but was too weak to take care of it and had probably been too weak to push it out as quick as she should.  It was dead.  Probably still born due to lack of oxygen.

It broke my heart.  I cried all the way home.  At the last gate, I sent Matt a text message telling him we needed to put this old gal down and out of her misery.  Now you might be wondering, "why doesn't she just nurse her back to health?"  Trust me.  I've tried it.  I've carried water and feed to cows for weeks trying to get them enough strength to get them to get up.  It just isn't going to happen.  They are finished.  What does happen is they get mad.  Really mad.  So mad if they COULD get up, they would eat you for lunch.  That's what bovine do when they are sick or hurt a lot of the time. But really, who could blame them?

Matt met me at Dad's and as soon as I had Maggie taken care of, we drove back over to where the old gal was laying.  On the way, we discussed how much this part of the ranching life sucks.  How difficult it is to have to put something out of their misery, but how we owe it to them as their caregivers. "It's just part of it, I guess" Matt says,"I don't get any enjoyment out of it and I want to end it for her as quick as I can.  But I'm glad I can do it."  I'm glad he can too.  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My First Love

Think back a little with me......who or what was your first love?  Was it a special doll or toy?  Maybe a very special loved one?  A pet, maybe?  I have no doubt about my first love......HORSES! 

My mom wrote a lot of "firsts" in my baby book for several years after I was born.  One of the "firsts" was the "first time I ran away"!  I was almost a three year old when Mom wrote that I came up missing one afternoon. Everyone in the family was looking around the yard and in the obvious places behind the house.  Finally, someone went to the barn.  There I was, perched on the fence, trying to lure my dad's old grey gelding, "Danny Peanuts" over to the fence.  It appeared I was going to get on him.  My plan was foiled as I was taken back to the house before my mission was accomplished.  So I guess you could say I got a fairly early start being in love with horses.

I think I've mentioned before that Dad didn't think I should have a pony or a horse.  Sometimes I think he actually hoped I wouldn't keep me from getting hurt.  So compared to a lot of country kids, I got kind of a late start riding.  But I remember being pretty little and begging rides from kids at the fair or any other time someone would let me get on with them!

My first real horse's name was Splash.  She was a loud paint mare, half welsh, I think and half quarter horse.  Splash was actually purchased for my oldest brother but it wasn't long before he outgrew her.  She made her way down through my second brother and then my sister, before finally becoming my horse.  We were the same age, I recall.  It was about the time she became my horse, that I needed a babysitter and a friend.  I think I was seven.  I very well remember luring her into the barn with feed and standing on the mangers to saddle her.  She was not the most cooperative horse in the world.  Splash had seen plenty in her years and while she wouldn't hurt you on purpose, (or very badly anyway) being saddled and ridden by a little kid wasn't really on her "to do" list for the day.  I got pretty frustrated but always kept on trying.  Some might say I was just more stubborn than she was.  I'd probably go along with would most anyone who knows me very well.  But despite the fact that Splash really didn't care much about having me ride her, sometimes I just brushed her or sat and petted her.  And talked to her.  And she listened as only a horse can.  She heard my thoughts and felt my emotions.  I needed that at that time.

There have been many, many horses throughout my life.  They have been with me through my teenage years and through college.  When life was "unstable", horses gave me stability.  In college, when I was on the  rodeo team, I think one of the things that gave me the most enjoyment, wasn't so much the fact that I was in rodeo, it was that I had a friend from home, right there waiting for me every day.  Someone stable who listened and helped to keep me grounded.  That has carried on throughout my adult life too.  Horses have always been that defining factor for me.  I have learned more than I can tell you from horses.  Not just about what horses do, but about life.....about sticking with things, about responsibility, about loyalty.

So I have always loved horses. Much of the time, I'm pretty sure I understand horses a lot better than I do people.  And even though a horse might not do exactly what I want when I want, that gives me another opportunity to learn something. To think about a new way to show a horse a particular thing.  And I think that can carry over to us as humans too. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Switched At Birth

Yesterday was a busy day in the heifer lot.  Those little gals were gettin' busy havin' babies.  An interesting thing happened.  There were two heifers, about 40 yards apart in the exact same stages of labor.  Started  at the same time and everything.  One heifer (number 39) was in the corner, the other (number 40) was up on a little knoll.  Thirty nine laid down and pushed her calf out a little quicker than 40 did, but outside of that, it was like watching everything in tandem.

Now when 39 finished pushing out her little bull calf, two other heifers (already mamas themselves) came over to show her how to take care of Junior.  The bad thing about this was when Junior finally got up, he didn't really know which cow was his mama.  He kind of latched on to one and he wasn't right.  This cow was gently but firmly nudging him away from her udder and he would walk all the way around this cow and wind up back where he started.  All the while, 39 is mooing and following him around, but unsure how to get Junior to follow  and nurse her. 

I watched this go on for a while (until 40 had pushed out her calf and he was standing) when I decided I had better help things along.  In general, it is not a good idea to walk right into three mama cows huddled over a newborn.  Someone (usually me) is bound to either get run over or hurt.  I got on the 4 wheeler and proceeded to very gently push the other cows away from 39 so she and her calf could get things straightened out.  The cows moved away just fine, but for some reason 39 followed and so did Junior.  And they all went right into where 40 was just getting things situated with her little bull calf up on the knoll.

The other cows kept going and then it was a jumble between 39 and 40 and their two little newborn bull calves.  They were both mooing and licking their calf and then turning around and mooing and licking the other one's calf, too.  It looked for a minute or two like they were both going to claim the same calf and I was going to have to intervene again.  But then each one kind of latched on to a calf.  But neither had the one they had given birth to.   And gradually, they started  moving apart with the "new" calf.  Now for me, it does not matter one bit WHO takes care of a calf, just as long as he has a mama and she feeds him and looks him up to care for him.  So as long as each cow is content, so am I.

It's just one of those kind of interesting things you don't see everyday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Really Should Have Paid More Attention in Home Ec

Women with jobs and clean houses amaze and bewilder on earth do they find the time, the energy and the desire to come home from work and clean house?  Even more amazing to me, and somewhat off the subject, I might add, are women who have children and not only have clean houses but manage to get anywhere on time.  It must be some kind of instinct I was born without. 

 I can control a 1000 pound cow, make a horse do what I ask of it, pull calves and tough out snowstorms and hot days in the sun, but my Eight Pound Orek XL can whip the tar out of me.  When I move some of the bigger furniture items to vacuum under them, other items appear (out of nowhere??) either falling or climbing out from under the furniture.  How does this happen?  Where did this stuff come from?  Maybe one should move these things more often than once a year... if not for actual cleaning purposes, just to make sure the area isn't inhabited by ninja dust bunnies.

I'm thinking I should have paid more attention in Home Ec.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Maternity Pen

I have been calving out heifers for about 22 years now.  When I started, I didn't know diddley about the back end of a cow.  We had a brand new calving shed that first year, and believe me, I used it.  I put every heifer in the barn that lifted her tail to do any kind of business....I wanted to be prepared,  I guess.  But over the years, I've seen a lot of calves born, brought a number of them into the world, with or without help from someone else.  I wouldn't say I'm an expert by any means, but I would say I have seen a lot when it comes to calving.  Dad says he always knows when a cow's going to calve....when she has feet showing.

In that nice calving shed Dad built, are eight stalls.  I have only had it completely full on one occasion back in the late 90's.  We had a terrible snowstorm and had heifers and cows both in there to calve.  I even had cows locked in the alleyway.  Anyplace out of the weather.  We saved a lot of calves during that storm because of that shed.  So I am really thankful we've had it.  It is a great little barn.

My biggest complaint about this little shed is that it does not have any sort of head catch device for restraining a heifer if we need to pull a calf.  So for 20 some years now, we have put the heifer in a stall and roped her around the neck, tied her as short as possible, opened the gate to her stall and set to work getting the calf out of her.  The problems with this method are if you don't get the cow tied short enough, she is going to have a lot of room to thrash around or she can choke herself with the rope if she fights it very long.  Over the years, we've had several choke themselves to the point I had to loosen the rope so they could catch their air.  I've only lost one cow to choke.  I hate it that it's even one, but it happened last year.  She was too scared and too wild. I just couldn't get the rope loosened up in time.  I felt terrible about it.  And that's when I really got to thinking about making some changes.

Now this thrashing around part is not good either.  Maybe I should explain how pulling a calf works and that will help you understand a little more why the thrashing is a bad thing.  As soon as I can get close to the heifer (she WILL fight the rope for a while), I need to get the chains around the feet, presuming feet are showing, which is usually the case.  I loop an end around each foot and secure them over the calf's dewclaws.  When the chains are on securely, the pullers come next.  There is a strap that fits over the cow's back which is hooked to a metal piece shaped kind of like a U.  It rests up against the cow's butt. Then the ratchet hooks into this metal piece.  There is a hook in the ratchet piece that the chains hook into.  This ratchet piece is a long pipe, probably about 6 feet long.  If a cow has too much rope, she starts swinging this 6 foot long pipe around with me at the end of it.  Also, the rope is usually tied off somewhere, so not only am I dodging the swinging 6 foot long pipe, I'm also ducking under the rope to get away from the pipe. Not to mention, making sure I don't get stepped on or kicked.  By the grace of God, I have never been hurt doing this.  But I've come close on several occasions.

So for several years now, I've been thinking there has to be something better than the "tie up the cow method" I've grown so used to.  By some streak of luck, I saw a thing called a maternity pen advertised in a ranch magazine.  I didn't know exactly what it was, but from the looks of it, it had a head catch and formed into a place where I could pull a calf or nurse one if necessary and I would be a lot safer.  I looked at one at a ranch sale and I also looked at one that a neighbor has.  It looked like a pretty good deal.  But then Matt and I were looking on a web site and found a video of what has this year become to me.......(cue angels singing)  THE GREATEST INVENTION EVER!!! 

The maternity pen I purchased is probably the most expensive one on the market.  I don't know.....and I don't care.  This thing has made my life so much better.  I cannot even explain to you how much easier it has made things for me.  I am so glad I bought it.  And the funny thing is, this morning, Dad says, "I didn't even know you could get something like this.  But it sure works slick."  That's about as close to a compliment as you get from my dad.  It's ok with me.  I'll take it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Three Ropes the Cow"'s almost calving time and I get to thinking about things that happened in years past.  One story that comes to mind is the story of "Three Ropes the Cow".

Along about three years ago, we got a pretty big snowstorm, about a foot of snow, right smack dab in the middle of calving.  We don't like that, but as Dad says, "we take what we get.  What choice do we have?"  The cows were in behind the windbreaks for the storm, fed and bedded on straw.  It's about as good as we can do for them.

But this day was sunny, almost no wind, the snow was settling, the cows had started to make their way out to the hilltops and they were finding a few blades of grass to make a living.  Now, normally, when I drive into a pasture, run my siren or the cows catch a glimpse of the cake pickup, they come at as quick of a pace as they are able. So I was pretty sure something wasn't quite right when I looked up on that big hill and saw a cow still just laying up there.

It was a ways to get to that hill and I had to pick my way on account of all the deep snow.  When I got there, I can't say I much liked what I saw.  There was a black white face cow, with big black panda eyes laying on a little bare patch of ground with a big white head sticking out of her back end.  No feet....this is not what we like to see.  I was pretty sure the calf was still alive and the cow was either sick enough or gentle enough to let me up close to her.  If I had a rope, I could rope her around the neck, dally to the bumper of the pickup and see what would be necessary to get that baby out of her.  But of course, I didn't have a rope.  I had a tow strap.  One of those 20,000 pound, flat (about 4 inches wide), about 20 feet long with big loops in the end.  It weighs roughly 5 pounds.  You can't rope a cow with one of these.  I know this.  From experience.

So I headed back to Dad's place, about 5 miles from where the cow was.  He saddled up Tim and I grabbed the calving chains and puller (a ratchet type device that rests up against the cow's butt and helps extract a calf that is difficult to get out), threw them on Matt's pickup and Dad and I trailered Tim as far as we could without getting the pickup and trailer stuck in the snow.  Dad set off cross country riding Tim and Matt picked me up with his pickup.

We all reached the cow at about the same time.  The game plan was for Dad to rope the cow, Matt to drive the pickup to the cow, dally to the pickup and I would work on the cow.  It sounded like a solid plan.  And it was.....except that Dad's rope broke.  There were two more ropes in that pickup (apparently that's where every rope on the place was since there wasn't one in my pickup) and Dad set off with the second one.

The cow pretty much had this deal figured out and what followed was a series of Dad tracking the cow( following her in a position to rope her) through the deep snow, him getting a shot to rope her and the cow either ducking her head or dodging and turning off.  All the while, there was this big white head sticking out of her back end, bobbing along as she ran.....once in a while, he'd open his eyes and look at us with this big eyed, "what the heck is goin' on here?" look.  Finally Dad got the cow roped.  About the time the rope came tight, Tim decided enough was enough and went to bucking.  He put his heart into it.  He was serious.  It was the real deal here, folks!  Dad let go of his dally and ended up getting bucked off in a snow drift.
AND NOW I AM PISSED!!!  I took off chasing after ol' Tim through the deep snow, using every expletive that I knew at the time. Come to think of it,  I may have added a few to my vocabulary that day.  After I got Tim caught up and delivered back to Dad, I set out chasing the cow (now dragging two ropes), afoot through the knee deep snow.

It was about this time that Matt, who was driving the pickup over to Dad and the cow after the second loop fit, drove into a hole with deep, deep snow and got the pickup add insult to injury, the only shovel in that pickup was one with a handle about as long as my arm.  Apparently, we stored ropes in that pickup, but not shovels.  So Matt was left to dig out the pickup on his own, with a little kid shovel.  It just keeps getting better, doesn't it?

The cow headed back to the windbreak.  Not TO the windbreak, IN the windbreak.  Trees are spaced very closely together and in doing the job they are supposed to do, they hold a LOT of snow in them.  My plan was to try to grab one of the ropes she was dragging while she was stuck or slowed down in a drift and dally the rope to a tree or fencepost or hold her enough until Dad could get there.  This did not happen.  The only thing that did happen was both me and the cow trudged through some very deep drifts, tiring us both out.  We ended up on the far side of the windbreak where the snow had drifted over the fence.

Now, I can't say who left the gate open.  None of us remembers who did it or why.  But it was open.  And that cow made a beeline for it like it had a beacon light on it.  About that time, Dad was back on her heels and somehow made the throw of the century with the last and third rope.  He caught the cow right up next to the fence.  I fumbled over through the snow and took the rope, dallied it to a good fencepost and set to work getting the calf out.  The cow was tired enough that she didn't put up much of a fight.  And the extraction was not a difficult one.  I'd had the presence of mind to grab my chains and carry them with me and the feet were easy to get ahold of and bring out.  I found a piece of an old fencepost laying close by and used it for leverage to pull the calf out.  He was alive and strong, despite the whole ordeal, so that was a relief to us all!

Along about this time, Matt came driving up!  He'd used the little kid shovel to get the pickup out and came as quick as he could!

Now you'd think that would be the end of the story.  But here's something you need to know about a cow.  If she's been jostled around like this cow had, there's a pretty good chance that she is going to head for high country and never look back for several days.  She might say to heck with a calf and just about everything else and we will have a bottle baby on our hands.  It's important that you understand this.

The only dry patch of ground was on the side of the fence where the cow was supposed to be anyway, so I drug the calf over to it and got out of the way so Dad could drive the cow back over to her calf.  She darted right back through the gate but as soon as Dad got up along side to turn her, she must have thought he was going to rope her again.  She darted off the opposite direction and apparently a several minute chase ensued.  I couldn't see it from my vantage point at the windbreak.  Finally, Dad got her back on track, heading toward her calf at a pretty stiff trot.  She trotted right on by.  Then, about fifteen feet past the calf, stopped dead in her tracks as if she'd caught a whiff of him.  It was looking hopeful, anyway.  She turned back and went to him, gave him a sniff and went to licking and talking to him!  So in the end, everything turned out great.  Mother and son were both safe and healthy and that's what we're in the business to do!

We still have ol' Three Ropes.  She raises us a good calf every year.  But I don't guess I'll soon forget the day she got her name.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Duke Didn't Have It Quite Right....(in my opinion)

I imagine most everyone has seen the John  Wayne quote, "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."  Well, since I haven't posted anything in quite a while, I'll get on my soapbox a little about this quote. 

The Duke is wrong about this....I know he was speaking metaphorically, so he can say it however he wants to.  But here's the fact of the matter.  I've saddled a fair number of horses that I was pretty sure were going to buck.  Trust me when I say, saddling is the easy part.  They might buck when you're saddling and they might stand there all puffed up waiting to move or they might look all relaxed until they move.  But if you've ridden even one colt or horse that has a little buck in them, you know ain't too scary to saddle them.  Not too many bad things will happen if you are paying attention at all. 

However......once you get that saddle on and the cinch tightened enough to keep the saddle on and do a little ground work and run back to the house for another cup of coffee and check your facebook account on your phone and scratch everything you can think of to scratch and....and......and.....At some point, you are going to have to put that left foot in the stirrup.  That isn't really too tough either.  If my cinch is tight enough, I can hang in the left stirrup all day.  I can even hang there and bounce a little while the colt moves around.  Hardly scary at all if you keep your foot where it needs to be in the stirrup.  But are going to have to swing that right foot over that horse's back and put it on the other side of that horse.  THAT'S WHERE THE COURAGE COMES IN. 

You know if you've ridden any broncy thing on this earth that you need to stay relaxed.  Keep your muscles relaxed and your body relaxed.  Keep your thoughts relaxed.  But that is not the easiest thing to do.  Your brain tells you all the things you know you should be doing......but your body goes into self preservation mode.  And then you think, "maybe I should have had just one more cup of coffee.  No I gotta pee." 

Seriously, I know what the Duke meant when he coined this quote.  He was saying it takes courage to start something when you are afraid.  And no doubt about it, that's right.  There are lot's of folks who just need that little push to "start".  And maybe that quote is just the thing they need to hear to do it.  But as usual, I had to put my two cents worth in. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ya Gotta Have Faith

This past few years has been quite a journey for me.  It's been a couple of years of education (which will continue till I take my last breath) and personal growth (which I HOPE will continue until I take my last breath).  My faith in God and in walking the path He has laid out for me has increased immensely.  But faith comes from going through storms, trusting in God to get you through that storm and moving on to the next one, so to speak.  And faith isn't always about getting exactly what you want from God.  It's about trusting HIM to give you what's best.  I can't say that has been the easiest thing to accept on my part.

I have been in the cattle business pretty much all my life.  I knew a lot of the work aspect of it.  I knew how to feed a cow and how to put a bull with her to get her to have a calf.  I knew how to ride a horse and turn a cow with it. I knew I would never be sorry at the end of the day for working hard. But I didn't know any of the business side of it.  To be honest, that's one of the places that I still have a lot to learn.  Ranching for me was always about self satisfaction, looking out over what I'd accomplished and the feeling that comes with that.  But it was pretty much just about ME.  Since that horrible day in October 2010, when we bought the remainder of the ranch, things have had to be quite a bit different.

I've had to learn business aspects that were not ever placed on my dad.  I had no one to go before me to teach me the ropes or for that matter, give me much advice on such matters.  A couple of close friends had been through similar experiences and they offered what advice they could, but for the most part, it was(and continues to be) on my shoulders. A bit overwhelming at times, and I will be honest in this......I have spent a lot of time in prayer about it.  I knew it was going to be an on-going lesson in faith.  It has been and it will continue to be.  I have confessed to God and a few others that there were several things in which I did not know what I was doing.  But you know what is really great about this?  God has constantly put the right people in my path to help me, to teach me, to encourage me.  He has pointed me in directions that I would not have considered.  He has, time after time, given me what I needed when I needed it, through others or in some way, shape or form.

 The land will be here long after I am gone.  The cows will continue to produce generations and generations of new calves, just like the generations before.  The wind will still blow and the rains will still come.  The grass will still grow up in the spring and the snow will still fly in winter.  I'm such a small part of the whole scheme.  What seems like a giant thing to me is really just a tiny speck in the universe.  My job is to take care of what the Good Lord has blessed me with in this brief moment in history. 

 Ranching, I have come to realize, is a never ending lesson in faith.  Everything we have is really God's property.  Everything we receive or don't receive is a gift from Him.  There will be bad times and there will be good times......Storms and sunshine.  I wish it could always be 75 degrees and sunny with just a light breeze, but that isn't the way it works.  It isn't the way life works either.....However, there's a pretty good chance we'll get some days like that.