Soon, The Wildflowers

Everyone looks forward to “springtime”, none more so than those who live in the north. Our winters are neither short, nor mild. Cabin fever hits us `long about late February, but we have quite a wait in front of us before relief comes. A surge of hope brightens the mood on that first warm, sunny day in March. Then, it snows and blows again. Just when our spirit sags back into winter weariness, the unmistakable song of a Meadowlark jerks you to attention! You remember what faith is all about: believing in something you may not be able to see or touch, and yet you know your hope is safe.

We begin calving in April. That means a lot of riding for my husband and I as we move cattle to pastures that are ideal for calving…good shelter in ravines and in tall sagebrush. Then, once things are situated, we ride once or twice a day through May to check the cows. Most mature cows do not need help, but occasionally there is a problem we may need to address. When a newborn calf is ‘up & going’, we move the baby and mama to an adjoining pasture. My favorite riding on the ranch is moving ‘pairs’. It is a leisurely pace since the baby generally toddles along slowly behind it’s mother.
I so look forward to riding this time of year … drinking deeply the fresh air of springtime that carries on it the scent of green things and a pungent aroma unique to the plains … Sagebrush. Every sign of spring that nature produces in this part of the world will soon be in high gear. The sights, the sounds and the smell of spring surround you.

Meadowlarks, Bluebirds and Lark Buntings flit from fencepost to sagebrush … singing as they go. No man-made symphony sounds better than a meadow brought to life by the return of spring. Wildflowers take their cue and push up through the prairie turf to paint a scene unequaled by Monet or Renoir.
I’m always on the lookout for little miracles while riding. Spying a bird’s nest with sky blue eggs in it, tucked into the sagebrush thrills me as much now as it did when I was a wee lassie. Catching sight of a wildflower at its peak of bloom is worth getting off my horse for. Actually, lots of things inspire me to dismount and set to memory whatever it was I discovered. I began carrying a camera with me a few years back and it gave me more of an excuse to linger. Setting aside the busyness of life has never been an issue. If anything, I linger too long and too often. But, thank you very much I don’t want the cure.
On the practical side of things, in preparation for the riding season, I need to curry my horses – they’re shedding heavy now. Winter hair is coming off of them like feathers out of a burst pillow. You’d think that after all these years I would remember an important detail connected with this chore: Do not apply lip balm beforehand; it results in hairy lips!

  1. Debbie says:

    I am reminded once again of my western roots…! After I read your post I closed my eyes for a moment so I could visit the sage covered mountains of my native state Nevada. I sooooo miss the fragrance of damp sagebrush…. It rains a lot in New England, but there is no "fresh smell of sage" to go with it. I was just thinking about that the other day as it rained and poured here for more than 5 days.

    On a brighter note: I remember the beauty of wild flowers in the high desert. Just spectacular! Here in the Northeast we have our own spring splendor…When the trees and shrubs begin to leaf out and blossom it is with great boldness! Neon Greens, hot pinks, bright corals, ravishing reds, royal purples, and the sunny yellow daffodils that punctuate the road to my house in spring. Having faith is easy in February, for we know what is coming! We are lucky to have such beauty to enjoy where ever we call home!
    Thank you for sharing your lovely life and photos! I always look forward to your posts here!


  2. RanchFarmgirl says:

    Hi all you farmgirls! I thought maybe I ought to mention the names of the wildflowers in the photos…in case some of you were interested. Sego Lily, Wild Sweet Pea, Bitter Root, Gumbo Lily, and two versions of Penstemmon. I’ll be posting more photos of our wildflowers later. The first wildflowers to show up here are Buttercups and Sweet Peas. I remember my Grandma holding a Buttercup under my chin and saying, "If your skin looks yellow, that means you like boys…Yep, it’s yellow." I replied, "Nuh-Uh, I’ll NEVER like boys!!"
    Thank you again for your wonderful comments and personal emails! Your fellow  farmgirls have told me how much they enjoy reading the comments left by others.  ~ Shery on the prairie

  3. Rene Foust says:

    Absolutely beautiful!! I am envious I have never lived out west but I have visited there and it is simply awe inspiring! Thanks for the beautiful pictures and words.

  4. Kelly says:

    We are even further north in Canada, and all of what you said holds true. Last week spring was in the air and this week it is snowing and cold. I enjoy your blog but really wanted to comment on what fabulous pictures you take. What kind of camera do you use? Enjoy calving!!

  5. Heather Hansen says:

    I don’t live on a ranch or a farm…yet 🙂 🙂 🙂 However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. I love animals and nature. Your pictures where wonderful. It’s like God took a small paintbrush and painted all the colors by hand. Simply amazing.
    I did visit a pen-pal in France many years ago. Her family lived on a small farm. I remember one morning seeing them go one direction towards the barn…not longer after they are going the other way with a new baby calf. Beautiful.:)

  6. RanchFarmgirl says:

    Thank you Kelly! I don’t have a ‘big gun’ as cameras go. It is just a Sony Alpha 100 DSLR. I think the Canon Rebel XTI is sort of comparable. I use the auto setting a LOT because … A: I’m too lazy to fiddle with all the details when you mess around with manual settings … and B: I’m too lazy to learn how … and C: when we’re out and about working and riding, I don’t have the time to do much more than adjust my camera from one auto setting to another. ‘Auto’ makes photography much more user friendly to someone who looks at is as one hobby among many other interests. The ‘real’ photo artist is one who focuses on photography as a singular passion. Pun intended. I’m just having a little fun with my camera as I go about the business of living. Sometimes I get lucky. Most of the time I use the delete button more than anything else.  :o)  Shery

  7. Reba says:

    Hey Shery, I so enjoyed your blog. And I could almost "smell" the sagebrush. I went out your way in 2000 for the first time. It was so funny; I came back trying to find that same smell, somehow. I found the "sage" scent by Yankee Candle Company, but it is nothing like the "real" thing when visiting out west. The pictures are so beautiful, as well as your horses! I am in awe of your landscape, the animals, and the love of life that God is able to place in us humans, to enjoy what He created! Thanks again!

  8. Jena Giest says:

    I love seeing all the baby calves in the brush and all the new happen. What a wonderful job you did showing us all that you and your husband do. It really sounds like you truly do enjoy life. What a blessing.

  9. RanchFarmgirl says:

    Hi Jena! For others reading these comments…"Jena" is my husband’s ‘baby girl’…who at this point in her life as two children in grade school and one baby boy! Thanks Jena for stopping in to say hello. I know you remember well the goings on of ranch work this time of year as you and your two sisters did a lot of riding while helping your dad.  ~ Shery, her step-mom

  10. Jennifer White-Mandujano says:

    Sherry, this blog is so wonderful! I’ve never been out west but after reading your blog and seeing the pictures I feel like I was there for a short visit. The light blue flowers on the stalk were sooo pretty ( almost as pretty as those colorful boots!!)  Take care and thanks for your blog.

  11. Grace~katmom says:

    Hey Shery,
    I have to giggle at your "Lip Balm & Hairy Lips" comment…
    I have 3 kitties, all of which are shedding like mad right now…and goodness knows you’d think I would know better than to apply anything on my lips before brushing them…
    Great minds think alike! lololol!
    Hairy lip hugz

  12. Terces says:

    While our winter hardly qualifies compared to yours, I too, experience the same thrill of Spring! Perhaps living as much out of doors as we do has me even more related to the small shifts in the seasons and the miracles you mention.
    Can’t wait for our first calf!
    Thanks so much for sharing in such an inspiring way.
    A group of college students came to the farm the other day for a tour and visit and NONE of them were interested in an agricultural life, they actually think of being on a farm as a vacation! Their sharing awoke me to how important it is that we farmers make this the "best party in town!" as it truly is!
    Thanks, Happy Spring,

  13. Linda says:

    Hi Shery – your comment on the shedding reminded me of a note from a friend a few days ago. She had been out brushing her horse and said to remind her never to wear fleece or lip gloss again when doing that.

    Love the pictures – it’s just beautiful and the babies – so wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

  14. Martha Cookame says:

    Great photos, Shery – our Hereford calves are arriving, also, a couple born each day since March 20. Wish I had a camera, as our small group of Texas Longhorn mamas are having their calves; so far, one totally brown, one with white body, spotted, with brown head, and third one all white with many spots on head. So glad we have had mild weather in the 40’s and 50’s, this spring. We hope to have all of them branded and out on pasture by May 10. Love seeing your country thru your photo lens!  Martha, near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

  15. Carol McElroy says:

    Shery, I love the way you write, I feel that I am right there seeing the eggs in the nest, grooming the horses. I would love to be that close to all the baby calves. And, note to self, no lip balm!

  16. MaryBeth says:

    Hi there—What a wonderful yet extremely busy time of the year. My daughter and husband live on the Family Ranch in Ritzville, Wa. And while calving is over now, the end of January to the first part of March is a mad scramble. CALVING! The babies are so cute and this year they lucked out with only one orphan baby but an older cow lost her calf and these two bonded right away. A little R&R (HA) now and branding is next. MB

  17. Terry says:

    Shery, you’re truly in your element. Blessings sweet ranch girl.

  18. Hello, everyone.

    I agree with Shery about the cold winds and snow. I live on a ranch on the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. We just had one of the worst blizzards I have seen in the last 5-6 years. It started on the 1st day of spring and blew for a week. We raise bucking bulls for the PBR (Professional Bull Riders). We don’t start calving until about May because we can have snow until June! Last year we had snow from Halloween (2008) until June 3rd 2009 a whopping 8 months. I love the cold and hate the heat so I am right where I belong. A hot summer day for us is 80 degrees just the way I like it.

    Shery, not a single flower here yet. I ride out at false dawn to check the cattle and there are a few critters, but not much else. I live on the Arkansas River and I did see a juvenile black bear a few weeks back playing in the water, but he/she is gone now. I see lots of prong-horn sheep and elk, but they are headed for the high-country before the spring comes into full swing so that they can have their babies.

    I broke my back (2nd time with my beloved horses) rescuing a horse last summer so I also use my tractor a lot these days. It has a full cab so I now have AC in the summer and heat in the winter-life is good. Unfortunately, it can’t go where a horse does! The bulls can weigh 2000 pounds and have very bad attitudes and big horns so I need to stay safe. They are pretty sweet unless you corner them and then you have a fight on your hands.

    The down-side to where I live is we only have a short season for plants. We only have from about the beginning of June (last frost) and get our first frost in late August. So, my flower and vegetable gardens are short lived. I am in a high altitude. The people in town–about 25 miles away have a 4 month growing season. But, I LOVE where I live-you just have to like solitude and the fact I am 3 hours to a big mall with fancy stores. So, I go once every 6 months and shop for everything all at once. The internet is my friend! LOL!

    I love to read all the posts here on this site.


  19. Donna Kelso says:

    I had to laugh! I was currying my horse the other day, with lip balm on, and yes, I had very hairy lips!!! I live in Montana so can relate to all you say. Love hearing that someone else sees the world as I do.

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