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.