Guns & Aprons

We had more fun than piglets in a “waller”. We dined on buttery-rich, home baked crackers (MaryJane’s recipe), organic “yard bird” salad, and for the crackers…homemade butter & herbed cream cheese. Homegrown and home-brewed Apple wine filled our glasses. We learned the basics of spinning wool, we swapped seeds and listened to Marty Robbins tunes played by the resident guitarist. And, on this same lovely evening in May, we shot paper daises full of holes! Who are we? We’re “Guns & Aprons” Farmgirls!

The northern Wyoming based farmgirl sisterhood chapter, “High Plains Sage Hens”, held their monthly meeting at Jerry and Anita Shepperson’s ranch this past Monday evening. The weather had been cold, cloudy and very windy. We were skeptical about being able to proceed with our outdoor “project”. But, on the evening of our meeting, it was as if the good Lord parted the clouds, turned off the fan, turned up the heat and gave us our first glorious spring evening. It was sunny and perfect. The primary goal of the get-together was to conclude our gun safety course that we started a couple of months ago. Our patient schoolmaster was the mister of the household, Jerry. Turns out, he is also quite a guitarist and a singing cowboy…the real deal.

Jerry gathered his flock of “sage hens” and called the meeting to order. He started with the basic rules of safety for firearm use. #1. Always assume that a gun is loaded.

I can count the number of times I’ve fired a gun on two hands. Michele (jean jacket) had only shot a BB gun once as a child. Jennie brought with her a fancy pistol that was once her father’s (she has it holstered in her apron pocket – see photo). Anita and Lisa are the most “gunny” of the bunch – Lisa being familiar with handling a pistol and Anita is more comfortable with a rifle. Jerry taught us the “How To” of both pistols and rifles. We each got to shoot several rounds at colorful, paper daisy targets that Anita made.

Oh, did we have a grand old “bang up” time! Jerry was such a good sport and he put up with our giggling and smartaleck shenanigans with manly grace. We laughed at each other, we laughed at ourselves, and we cheered one another on in our “2nd Amendment” inspired outdoor shootin’ gallery classroom.

WARNING: You’re now entering “brag mode”. Jerry asked if anyone was interested in trying some of his other guns. I told him, “You betchya, I got game!” Below is the result of me shooting his .45 Magnum pistol. Notice the BIG hole right in the middle of the bull’s eye!! *(The rest of the bullet holes were from .22 caliber bullets).

Our evening at the Shepperson Ranch also included a farm tour. Farms and ranches in the springtime are bustling with activity and a very common sight is a chicken house full of little ‘peepers’. Anita’s heirloom layer chicks, meat birds and turkeys were busy eating under the brooder lamps. Matilda (Anita’s milk cow) had given birth to her calf about a week before and our evening meal was greatly enhanced by Matilda’s rich milk from which Anita made fresh butter and herbed cream cheese spread. Before we arrived, Anita and her Border Collie had brought in the flock of freshly sheered sheep for the night; she mentioned that lambing is less than two weeks away. We walked past the sheep and moved on past the raised beds (yet unplanted) to see her new garden shed. She planted root crops last week. Beyond the chicken house is the orchard. Next to to the front of Shepperson’s bermed home, Anita created a babbling brook and a small pond just a week before. It is stocked with colorful goldfish that resemble Koi. After dinner, we talked Anita into showing us the basics of spinning. She really does fill every corner of the word “farmgirl”. She began her journey on a ranch in Montana. Her family produced a lot of wheat and barley. She tells of single-handedly preparing large meals for the working crew when she was just a small girl. Her mother was out working alongside the men.

Have I mentioned that when we have our farmgirl get-togethers, we laugh and laugh and laugh … and laugh. Please look for the photo in which Lisa demonstrates one of the many uses of a farmgirl’s apron…wiping away tears…tears of laughter in her case.

It is the duty of every farmgirl to provide her sisters with a regular dose of Vitamin J (for joy). Pleasant socializing with A-Grade people creates a setting for replenishing. You nurture and give and you get it right back. The more you give, the more you get until you reach “critical mass” and then with nowhere else to go, the excess froths over the top … looking for all the world like uncontrollable giggling. Silly? Maybe, but we don’t want the cure.

Anita is busier than a June beehive, but she managed to make a wonderful 100% organic meal for us. Here are the details: Thai chicken salad (yep, she raised the bird), buttery rich crackers (MaryJane’s recipe), herbed cream cheese and butter (yep, she milked the cow), and home-brewed Crabapple wine (yep, she grew the apples and made the wine). As little party favor gifts, she started ‘pink parfait’ geraniums quite awhile ago and gift-wrapped them in tissue for us (setting on the table).

When I planned the content for this blog article, I didn’t foresee the effect the photos would have on me. As I reviewed them, it hit me like a bullet (pun intended)…just how much my farmgirl pals enrich my life. Jenny – Her smile is like sunshine, mischief sparkles in her eyes, her sense of humor is a 10 and she’s ‘good black dirt’ all the way through. Michelle – 110% sincere, sweet as honey, kind to the core, artfully industrious and she is a living lesson in “giving from the heart”. Lisa – Caring is her middle name, her heart is as big as her love of laughter and she’s one of those very rare birds who really listens, I mean really listens; anything she puts her hands to…She Does It Right. Anita – If there is someone who lives every minute to the fullest, it is her. She squeezes the most out of a day on the ranch, yet she always makes time for helping others. Always. In everything … she’s 100% ‘git er done’. I’m awed by the unique goodness of each of my farmgirl pals. I’ve done nothing to deserve such comradettes and I’m so grateful that I can say they’re my friends. Oh, gimmee a hanky. I hope you have such acquaintances. If you find yourself hankering for some and you haven’t gotten involved in a farmgirl group … Do It Right Now! If there isn’t a sisterhood chapter at the ready, make one! I did.

Much can be discerned about a person if you look at the company they keep. I’m not talking about exteriors, I’m talking about looking at the marrow of people. Having said that, I’m encouraged and inspired. Some of the natural forces in this old world can gang up on you from time to time and make you feel wilty, weary and short on what it takes to shine. Then, like magic, a caring friend scoops you up and lifts you out of that ooky barnyard mire … you know the kind that sucks you down into it. As I pondered these things, I heard a whispered challenge … Be the woman my friendships suggest. Humility is appropriate here. I don’t feel proud to be me, I feel blessed to have them.

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  1. Debbie says:

    I’m still chuckling over your bulls eye! You go girl! Woo hoo! I love this post because it is such a reminder that we all need our " gal pals"… Sisters to laugh with and just plain have fun with! Beautifully expressed here! The fun and friendship just pours out of these photos…
    Wonderful and inspiring … as always :)
    Thank you!

    Deb~

  2. Brenda says:

    Wonderful post and some great pictures to go with it. Guns and aprons – that is a first for my eyes. I have only shot a 22 and it has been many years ago; target practice with a grandfather in-law. It took some talking to get me to even handle the gun since I grew up in a house that did not have any. I have to admit it is was a rush to get anywhere near the center of the target. Spent the evening with a long time girl friend today. We went to a large nursery and filled the back end of my little Sportage and the back seat with plants. We just kept saying "we better stop" and then we would see just one more "that is a great price". Had to stop for ice cream even though it is cold tonight and had a great time. How could we live without our friends? I have a new post and it includes the hen house! Have a great weekend!

  3. Paula Spencer says:

    I want to move to Wyoming! (:

  4. Grace~katmom says:

    Oh Shery,
    What fun ya’ll had…& if you had some good ol’ Don Williams music…Id’a been there in a heart beat! lol!
    Glad you gals got to have beautiful weather for your rootin’ tootin’ play date…
    A bunch of us got together last weekend for camping in our vintage trailers by the Yakima river, a good ol’ fashioned barn dance and pot luck food fest.
    Aren’t girlfriends the best!
    Warm Spring Hugz to all you WY MJF gals.

  5. Cindy says:

    Shery

    How fortunate for you and your gals to have each other! I’m hankerin’ for friendships like that, I need friendships like that especially now that I’ve been hit with an unexpected divorce. Aarrgghh! Anyway…"be the woman my friendships suggest", yes, I need to be the friend I want to attract. Good lessons here, thank you. Wish I lived back out West where I belong…if I make it out that way someday, I’m still bringing a blueberry pie with me, and it will have your name on it! Lovely blog, a joy to follow!

    Cindy

  6. Rebecca says:

    Just wonderful! I recently returned back to the Northwest but was able to spend three years in Colorado prior. Learned a lot about farmgirl life and enjoyed the company and knowledge of those near and far. Your comment on the "marrow of people", proves just that…it’s literally beyond the heart and soul that you find depth of a person. Loving a definition of Humility…"The state or quality of being humble; freedom from pride and arrogance; lowliness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth; a sense of one’s own unworthiness through imperfection and sinfulness; self-abasement; humbleness". Priceless!

  7. Teri Personeni says:

    Shery you have added yet another talent to my admiration. What an impressive target shot. I am envious of your "class" and sure wish I had something like that here. All the guys around here handle guns like a chef with a whisk. They are so comfortable and relaxed. I have shot quite a bit over the years, but never really got comfortable. As for you and your gal pals and your immeasurable talents I am in awe. It reminds me of an old commercial [I don’t remember what for] that showed the woman who worked to make the money to buy the bacon and came home to fry it up in the pan. It went on to express all the things women do without even thinking. To make butter or sew or especially make wine from my home grown apples is astounding. I am so pleased that you have such friends with whom to share your joys and sadness.
    Teri

  8. linda sears says:

    Hi, love the blog is that a red Holstein that Anita has? That’s my dream team of oxen if she breeds them, I may have to get in touch. Thanks again for the blog.

  9. Michelle says:

    How fun! :) I love the aprons, and the flower targets are fabulous!

  10. Suzy says:

    I was one of the last people to interview Marty Robbins before his untimely death, and I think he would have LOVED seeing you girls in aprons with your guns, and then listening to his music!!! Those photos were just the neatest things! And yes I too might want to move out there! :)

  11. Bonnie Ellis says:

    Oh Sherri, What a stock tank full of fun you girls had! Our little henhouse Farmgirls Forever here in Minnesota will meet for the first time June 4. I really can’t top that kind of REAL farmgirl experience, but I’m glad for all of you that you found each other! Bonnie

  12. Nothing better than good friends, good times and good laughs. Congrats on the bulls eye, you’ve earned the right to brag. I myself am a rifle lady.

  13. Connie Tarplee says:

    This makes me home sick for my grandparents farm. I had all the horses I could ride. Learned how to shoot a rifle at the farm. Love the smell of my horses. I just put down my last old horse a few weeks ago. The smell of my horse and smell of the barn, nothing better. Makes me want to move out west to a ranch and work with horses and livestock. I am so glad to be able to watch this site. I have my mother’s apron, and I have my grandfather’s pistol. I am ready to go. Looking for a new horse that I can trail ride and pack. I know how to pack and took my training with the US Forest Service in CO. last year. It felt like I had been doing packing all my life, but that was a past life I am feeling. It could be a new life to come. So we shall see what God has planned for me. I don’t live out west, but I would love to live there. I am now in Indiana, longing for the ranch life.

    Connie

  14. RanchFarmgirl says:

    Hi Ya’all,

    Just wanted to pop in to answer a few questions and address your comments.

    Becky asked which month… August or September …is a better time to visit this area. August would be hot. Mid September would be ideal in my opinion…depending on what you’re planning on doing and where in Wyoming you’re going. You’ll get to see autumn color in some places – not here on the plains of course. The change of colors here is very subtle…the grasses mostly.

    Grace, it sounds like you’re gonna have a blast with your friends. WooHoooo. I’m REALLY envious of those gals who have cute, tricked out vintage trailer. I SO want one of my own.

    Cindy, I’ll be looking for that blueberry pie!

    Linda, Anita’s milk cow is a Guernsey. As for her wine recipe…I’ll have to suggest that she submit it for publication. Good idea! She makes several kinds of wine, but Crabapple is my favorite.

    Suzy, You interviewed Marty Robbins???!!! Awesome. My favorite song of his is "Continental Cowboy".

    Bonnie, I am loving to hear that other farmgirls are gathering together. It is such great fellowship for like-minded "wimminfolk".

    Thank you again girls for taking the time to read my blog and correspond. I love hearing from you and I hope that wherever you are, springtime is all over you!
    Shery

  15. Leslie says:

    What FUN! Thanks so much for the fresh idea. I’d like to copy this get-together. Must find a local sisterhood! I just found your blog and although I’m a eastern farmer can relate to so much… Will look around more. Your post about setting realistic goals hit home for sure. Have a great summer,
    Leslie

  16. RanchFarmgirl says:

    Linda asked how she might find out if there is a Farmgirl group or chapter in Georgia. If’n I was you, I’d go visit the Farmgirl Connection website and start asking around in the various chat topic folders. I bet ya a donut there are lottsa farmgirls in GA!
    shery

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