Every farmgirl is a farmgirl every day because the whole concept is a state of mind. We all have various ways of living the farmgirl life … depending on our circumstances. Our gardens aren’t identical in size or appearance, neither our homes or our “farms”. Some of us hang our country’s flag off the fron’t porch while others fly Old Glory high on a pole in their yard. Me, well, an old wheelbarrow handle is a make-do option. The farmgirl way is all over the map. C’mon in and see how my farmgirl pals and I do our own thing … and then share how you express your own unique farmgirlness.
When I began taking morning walks in our back pasture, I noticed that “A rose is a rose by any other name”, however, not all wild roses are created equal. Even within the same species, there is a lot of variation … true in all of creation really. And, so it is with farmgirls. My farmgirl pals and I have much in common, yet we’re so very different in many ways. It is the sameness and the differentness that makes it all so charming and special.
Anita played hostess to our most recent farmgirl get-together (pink blouse, below). Some of the hens in our flock couldn’t make it to her last basket-making lesson, so she repeated the workshop for our group project this go around. We also got to tour the ranch and her huge garden etc. She prepared a lovely meal and in our wine glasses (see in several photos) she poured homemade rhubarb wine. Here, I’ll take you through our time spent together.
The beginnings of our basket class …
A little further along …
After they were made, we dipped them in black walnut stain and then hung them on an Aspen branch to dry.
Anita’s house is a bermed home that she and her husband built themselves.
Anita’s husband, Jerry, built a nifty little fountain from “ranch junk” and an old chicken waterer. The tom turkey followed us around during the farm tour. He loves visitors and struts and gobbles for everyone. His mate is raising her next batch of babies.
When Anita’s Jersey milkcow had her baby, Anita was thrilled to get a heifer and more so to get a rare piebald beauty like little Miss Victoria.
Dinner and drinks …
Back at home, I’ve been trying to do some in-house organizing – a long overdue project. Whilst doing so, I rediscovered a huge elk antler that I found a few years back while riding and gathering cattle.
Had to find places too for my most recent craft projects. These are things that you, too, can build if: you’re a MaryJanesFarm sisterhood member and if you’re a handy woodworker (or know one). Both designs (below) will be published in the next newsletter (The Cluck). One is a birdhouse and the other is a smaller scaled bank. I designed them and then my farmgirl pal, Michele, made them. She’s a one-woman birdhouse factory!
Since it is “glamping” season, little camper craft projects came to mind.
Even though we have few birds that are ‘house’ birds, I still like to have several around for the bluebirds and swallows to choose from. Most of our birds are varieties of sparrows that inhabit the plains. They make their nests in the tall grass and sagebrush.
One of the other resident birds we have – since a seepy creek and a reservoir is nearby – is the killdeer. Over the last two weeks, I watched with keen interest a nest made in the pebbles. I checked it every morning and night in the hope I could get photos of the babies. But, they can practically run out of the egg and I missed both their arrival and departure. Poo! When I would check the nest, the parents would do what killdeers are noted for: the broken wing act to lead possible predators away from the nest site.
I noticed the other day that my young mare, Ribbon, finally looks like a mature horse at age five. She’s all grown up now.
Some things in your life don’t get as much attention as others … and maybe it is because they like it that way. My kitty, Smudge, isn’t a lap sitter or a cuddler and she doesn’t like to be picked up. But, she has to find me and say hello when she comes inside in the morning. She follows me allllll over when I go for walks in the pasture and she loves to hang with me in the garden. She’s my reserved, but loyal, little friend and I like her independent ways. We’re not so different, she & I.
My other kitty looks very much like Smudge. “Be-Kay” (for barn cat who wanted to be more) is her diametric opposite. She doesn’t know a stranger, she’s eXXXtremely affectionate, won’t leave you or anyone else alone, talks back if you begin a conversation. She is on you, near you or next to you and she begs to be held. I should have named her Velcro. Another lesson in seeming sameness that is only superficial.
Well, in the ranch sector, we’re almost at the end of branding season and we helped with probably the last one on the radar.
The other morning we gather the cattle for our friends and then some of us waited around while the rest of the crew worked the cow/calf pairs apart in preparation for the branding. Our young friend, Jessica, relaxed on her horse while we waited.
Soon, the branding stoves were turned on and we went to work. My job this day was to photograph the goings on for the ranch owners. I do that quite a bit if there is enough help to handle all of the other jobs.
Below is another friend, Ellis – 88 years young and still in the saddle!
Two of the ropers visiting while the calves they’re tied onto are being branded and vaccinated.
My young mare, Ribbon, pulled a “Houdini” that morning — meaning that she let herself out of the corral I overnighted her in so that she’d be handy to catch in the morning. So, since my ‘old reliable’, Dolly, has been in the diet center pasture by the house, I rode her instead. What a luxury. With a young horse, you have to think about every little thing you do. Not so on a ‘been there, done that’ horse. Dolly is now 23, not retired, but I don’t take her on long, hard rides (several hours and miles). Toward the end of the branding, I asked my husband to ride her for a bit so that I could get probably what will be the last pictures of her dragging calves at a branding. As far as horses go, she is THE love of my life. We began our journey together 21 years ago and my life would not be my life withour her woven into it. She IS the best horse in the universe. Damn straight. She’s kept me safe, worked willingly under me and when she wasn’t working on the ranch, she had seven babies for me. Seven! She owes me nothing and I love her with my whole heart. She’s a beautiful horse from the inside … out.
So loving, so kind, so gentle, so willing, so fun, so active and in addition, she is ten kinds of tuff. She is a farmgirl with hooves :o)
Below: The human love of my life … Lynn … riding his own horse, “PI”. I bought him as a yearling for my husband and I named him too – after the simple-minded cowboy in the movie, Lonesome Dove. PI (the cowboy) was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he was a loyal friend, a hard worker and honest to a fault. PI, the horse, is exactly the same. He is the most polite gentleman you’ll ever meet and so affectionate. In the photo below, he and Lynn are “fishing” for a calf. Sometimes roping a calf is more action oriented, but ideally, keeping things calm and slower paced is much more efficient. That is actually true of working cattle in the general sense. You can get more done and get it done faster if you work slower (and more patiently).
As the morning wore on, it got hot … really hot. Jeri (the ranch owner) poured water from the stock tank on her shirt to keep cool.
Afterward, we ate lunch and went home. I love to be outdoors, but I draw the line when it is really hot. I retreat to the great indoors.
In the heat of summer days, I do inside things … those things I put off until either winter or heat make me stay inside. This summer is desperatetly dry, tinder box dry … and UGLY. What little grass there is, is crunchy and it is only the end of June. Thank God for my garden oasis. I’ve lost a few plants due to such dry conditons. Blast furnace winds and flowering plants don’t mix. So, I replaced some of the flowers (like lobelia) with moss roses. I should have just bought them to begin with. They thrive on heat and intense sun. Towards dusk I water things … my garden and flower bed. We often don’t eat supper until late in the evening in the summer. Just too much to do while it is yet light.
The horses are relieved when the sun drops. They leave high ground where they loaf and avoid bugs during the heat of the day … and go out to graze at night. If it weren’t for the mosquitos, I’d love to lounge outside in the evening. Hopefully that screened in porch that I’ve been dreaming about will soon be a reality. Maybe you have one? Well, stay cool my friends and I hope you have a great celebration of Independence Day. God Bless America … and may He bless you too.
So love the comments about your horse. I too have one, only a gelding. I refer to him as Checkers "The Wonder Horse". My kids don’t always agree. We are having a wetter than normal summer. More grass than you can imagine. Would sure send some rain your way if we could.
Shery, I enjoy your blog and your photos. I was wondering what kind of camera do you use for taking all your photos?
Hi Sherrie, I have a Sony A 100 DSLR. It isn’t a camera for an advanced photographer. It is very much a middle of the road model and very affordable [for me]. I would love to get a Canon D series camera someday, but at this time I can’t justify the expense. Also, my camera is one that I carry with me a’horseback and I don’t baby it at ALL. If it bites the dust (literally) while I’m out & about … Oh welllllll. She’ll die with her boots on! :o) I wouldn’t have near as much fun doing what I do with a camera if I had a fancy "big gun". Thank you. shery
I loved your pictures and stories, again! So much of what you are doing parellels what is going on in my corner of the world. It is nice to know there are women out there with the same loves as myself! Thanks for sharing!!!
Thank you for sharing your day on the ranch. I came from a small farm and now live in the city, but I can appreciate the long days and the hot summers outside. I love the horses and the cattle round ups. Wonderful pictures, hopefully rain will come your way from us here in Oregon.
I had a horse like your Dolly. His name was Captain. I got him at a police auction. He was a big, 17 hands, flea bitten grey. I trusted him like no human. If I was sad, I would put my arms around his neck and he would pat me on the back with his great head. Sadly, Captain fell on a stall mat and broke his pelvis. We got him healed up and he lived another year and fell again. He was not young when I got him, but frankly, I prefer older horses. I’m older and prefer a horse with a little common sense.
Your blog reminded me it really is summer, even if this farmgirl works in an office all day.
This week has been an especially stressful week at my other full time job. This morning though, I woke with sunrise and a lovely cool breeze. I did what I do every morning, grabbed a cup of coffee (my one a day dose) and went outside to watch the sun rise and to meditate in the beauty of the ranch. We have a myriad of birds including our very special California orioles. These birds were believed to be extinct in California until four years ago when they graced us with their return right here on our land. It is an amazing sight to see that brillant flash of bright yellow. Because the residue of stress still hung around me, I decided I needed to get moving and do some work to get it off my mind. It was during my regular chores I had to stop and honestly thank the universe for the privilege of working with my own two hands, body and mind. There is an inspiring joy in accomplishing your daily work. It is true, it is never done and I always feel like I am behind, but this morning I am so grateful for the hard work I must do on a daily basis and revel in the joy of accomplishment. It is a tumultous world right now and I cannot say what tomorrow will bring. But this moment, this day, I can rejoice in the satisfaction of a day fulfilled with a job done, truly an accomplishment that touches my very soul.
Shery, if I lived in Wyoming, you would definitely be my "bosom friend", (from "Anne of Green Gables"). My heart melted at the sight of that new baby calf. Being away from my rural past for 20+ years, I had forgot all about the Killdeer doing the "broken wing thing." Thank you for the memories! And girl!!! Guess what I have sitting on MY big cupboard? One huge elk antler drop. My DH found it while hunting and had to bring it home. We’re on the same wave length!!!!!!! Oh…and must mention one more thing. That Ellis! What a guy! He is amazing!!! Must be due to living in a pristine place like Wyoming!!! AND Lonesome Dove!!! Have watched it probably 200 times. Gotta love that Gus!
Dear Vikki, That is the thing about meeting a fellow farmgirl you’ve never met… it’s like you HAVE met and known each other. Kindred spirits don’t have to explain themselves to one another … they just all talk at the same time and splatter all that good energy everywhere :o) The elk antler —— I carried that thing around for a couple of hours until we got to a gravel road where the ranch owner could swing by and get it for me. That thing is HEAVY and not the easiest thing to tote a’horseback. We were to move cattle and ride for most of the day and there was No way I could have carried it that long. BUT, it is a huge antler and I didn’t want to surrender it. Funny that you have one on display too. Well, it would be fun to be bosom friends no doubt. You take care and keep on livin’ large :o) shery
Newbie to the Wild Windy Wyoming, I so enjoy your blog. I’ve been a guest at brandings and dockings galore this season and CAN’T WAIT to be inviting folks to our own some day soon.
We are loving Wyoming even with its tinder box tendencies this year. I’ve joined the local volunteer firefighters as a good neighbor and hope to NOT have a fire to fight, but I am sure we’ll be out sooner or later. Our Zone has sent folks to the Russell Fires and just the other day up to the fire between Sheridan and Buffalo. I’m nervous but steadfast in our need to protect our prairie grass and neighors.
Be safe and best wishes!
What a good Samaritan you are. Yes, the fires are beginning to happen around here. It takes so very little now for a fire to spark and GO. Every rancher around has their old firetruck loaded and ready to go at a moment’s notice. We can use a tank weed sprayer on the pickup for a smaller version. It isn’t much, but it is WATER. Stay cool if you can and maybe one of these days it’ll rain again. shery
Once again you hit the nail on the head of a good read – from the wonderful time had with your farmgirl friends – to the love of Dolly and the joy to be inside making your home spew forth your loving kind spirit. We have been experiencing a major fire that burned 346 homes but the very dedicated fire fighters saved many many more homes – we thank each and every one of them and all of them around our nation. Stay safe God Bless
So how many BFF’s do you have? You’re doing a great job friend.
Hi TerryGirlfriend!! Our little farmgirl flock usually rounds out to about 5-7. Other gals have come from time to time, but folks have a lot of other activities and there is only so much time. So, we enjoy seeing the visitor farmgirls whenever they can come. Thanks my old friend. shery