Out With The Old

I hope that my next statement is as true for you as it has been for our family: Blessings in 2011 far outnumbered the trials. We also have two new family members. In fact, when I was looking around at our growing clan while at my sister’s home on Christmas day, I marveled at that fact. We were all there, no one missing and with two new additions (and rumor has it, another on the horizon). My sister told me that Dad got a little misty over it; that and the fact that all of his loved ones are happy. Years in the past haven’t always read that way and I know the future won’t either … but … as for Christmas 2011, it was one of the very best. 2011 was indeed a good one in many ways. I can’t help but look back over my shoulder before moving on toward 2012. Care to join me for a farmgirl year in review? At the end, please offer up the highlights of your year in the comments section.

Winter, early 2011. The snowiest, ‘winteryest’ winters in recent memory! It – Was – Awful. 8 feet of snowfall which in our part of the world means monster drifts up to 15 feet and mountains of snow pushed up everywhere to make way for vehicles. My husband claimed in July that he still hadn’t warmed up.

Just as soon as potted flowers become available in florist shops, I snag a few for mental health reasons :o) There was no such thing as dirty snow last winter, we just kept getting new snow!

Spring finally arrived, albeit late. It took a long, long time for all that snow to melt and finally warm up. The wild sweet peas are brave little souls, but even they were a month late.

By April, it is safe to plan a road trip to go pick up chicks. I bought half a dozen Buckeye baby-girls. My favorite color of chicken is the deep mahogany red of this breed (and Rhode Island Reds). Buckeyes were developed in Ohio by a farmgirl.

Soon, other wildflowers follow suit. Below: Bitteroot – one photo was taken from my saddle (see boot & stirrup). The delicate blossoms absolutely do not look real. The prairie is just beginning to green up when they bloom and there are HOT pink flowers everywhere … as if someone had scattered faux silk flowers all over the plains. We were riding that day, beginning to move cow/calf pairs to an adjacent pasture.

In May, ‘life’ takes off again. By June, we’re reminded why we live here. There are babies everywhere and we get to see so many kinds … birds of the air, wild animals, domestic, insects … everyone is replenishing the supply! The below photo illustrates my #1 favorite ranchy job: moving pairs. It is a slow motion affair since toddling baby calves are just getting their ‘sea legs’ under them. The natural world is so beautiful at that time, it smells SO good outside … there just isn’t a better place in all the world to be … and this job lets me take it all in at a nice, slow pace. This might be how the cliche ‘mosey along’ came into being :o)

The plains aren’t so plain anymore …

I gasped with delight when I spied a few patches of of the giant blue Penstemmon. There was enough for me to snatch one for my flower bed at home. I hope it is happy there, I guess I’ll see later this spring.

The wildflowers go crazy! Not one color is missing on the praire palate. There is only one orange flower though, Mallow, and they like to grow right along the dirt road.

At home, I planted my garden later in May. Until things got going, the violas and pansies thrived and assured me their kin would surely show themselves soon.

They say you can hear the corn grow in Iowa. Well, our version of that is you almost see the grass grow in June here.

And, by the first part of July it is time for haying.

Summer is the season when a rancher’s day ends long before the work of the day is done. My husband is a verb in the summer. Below: the edge of the hayfield at dusk when Lynn finally called it quits for the day.

My beloved …

Mornings are my ‘go on walkabout’ time … just to see what might be new in the world. In the spring, there is always something new the next morning. The dogs & I (with coffee cup in hand) head out to the back pasture.

My garden got off to a slow start, but it was a great year for root crops … beets and carrots. My junky picket fence might get replaced this coming summer. What to do with all that chippy wood? I think birdhouses and I don’t know what else, but surely something fun.

A year prior, Anita and I had ordered custom saddles from Sean Cannady (Double H Ranch Saddlery, Longmont, CO). By this past summer, they were finished and ready to come home & go to work.

My friend, Connie, gifted me with a birdnest that she found in July – after the occupants had raised their family. {I collect nests} Now, that is a golden-hearted friend – one who goes to the trouble of packing something like that home for you :o) The eggs are wooden ones that I painted to look real.

Throughout the year, I also collect natural ‘stuff’ for my birch bark basket of potpourri. In August, teddybear sunflowers from the garden were added.

The perennials that I had planted did not disappoint me. I hope to have more Black-eyed Susans this year. Below is Gaillardia, or as my mother calls them: Indian Blankets.

The first weekend in September, our little town hosts a classic car show and an art fair in the city park. The weather was a perfect ‘Indian Summer’ day. My farmgirl friend, Judy, was selling some of her garden produce to help raise $$$ for the senior center.

In October, my farmgirl sisterhood chapter members had our autumn themed craft show. We sold all kinds of homemade and handmade things.

Then, the hard freeze finally came … after a nice, long, peaceful autumn. Very little wind, a little moisture, but the friendly sort. Fall arrives like a long awaited friend – my favorite season. The grass turns tan and makes a raspy sort of whisper in the breeze.

Fall colors on the high plains are plain, subtle and quiet.

Not so quiet are my antique kitchen furniture pieces. I acquired the pieces over the last year from the same antique dealer who refinished them. I made a ‘set’ out of a small drop-leaf table, mis-matched chairs, a cupboard, a shelf, and a small cupboard-island. My kitchen now looks like a stoplight ;o)

My farmgirl pal, Michele, and I venture over to Spearfish about once a month to go shopping. We both enjoy taking the scenic route through a canyon. It is beautiful in every season (below) and we usually stop to take a photo or two. The photos below were taken in early September. Further down this post are winter photos from the same place – different season.

Fall is also when we help neighbors and friends with ranch work. Below, we were helping friends move/load cattle.

October found me working on an article for MaryJanesFarm magazine. If you’re a subscriber, I bet you enjoyed seeing Michele’s beautiful home in the Christmas issue.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, preparations for Christmas began. Usually, I’m Johnny-Come-Lately on that front, but this year I actually managed to not overwhelm myself with a holiday case of anxiety gridlock. I was determined to take it easy, enjoy a leisurely and organized pace. Whatever! I was so good at it that I thought I could do more. That is where my anxiety-free holiday gameplan ran into the ditch. But, not to worry … It all came out good in the end. I have always made many/most of my decorations, but a ‘Bethany Lowe’ snowman would not let me go home without him. He made me chuckle and reminded me of a saying I read recently, “I’m in great shape. Round is a shape.” Not so funny really, my feet would like me a whole lot better if I lessened their load by 20 pounds. MAYbe 2012 will give me success.

Right before Christmas, I went back to Spearfish to do some last-minute shopping for grocieries. The drive through the canyon quieted me. As much as I was enjoying the holiday busyness, I was reminded of the need to slowwww down and let my soul catch up. Sitting on the side of the road and listening to the creek did that very thing. Counseling from Nature is the best.

Our family’s Christmas get-together took place at my sister’s home. She’s having a fan-tabu-lous year. Love found her. The real deal, the kind that other folks smile at when they see two people so deeply in like with each other. Yes, ‘in like’. True love HAS to have that as a main ingredient. I’m so happy for her. And, if that weren’t enough, she has another new man in her life, a first grand child. Here she is below – my sister, Beth.

Beth’s home sparkled with the holiday spirit. Love does amazing things to you. No corner of your being is left untouched. Beth cooked and baked like a mad-woman the week prior! I was delighted to hear that my favorite was on the list (almond roca). The food was great. Everyone brought food to share. Gifts were exchanged after we ate. Then we ate s’more! In addition to sweets and cheese dip, I took over a large pot of Gumbo.

My sister’s taste leans heavily toward ‘shabby chic’ decorating – very feminine and cottage-y charm. I found the prettiest antique celluloid box to put her gift in. I added an antique postcard, a velvet rose, pink ribbons and a couple of bells. She did so much to make our Christmas ‘merry & bright’. I wanted to make a package for her that was almost too pretty to open (like mom made for us before arthritis wouldn’t let her anymore).

I think I mentioned earlier that my father was happy to have us all together, healthy & happy this Christmas. I must add that I am so thankful that at age 55, I still have both my parents. Beth’s sweetheart lost his father two years ago. My folks worked hard to raise us right and they deserve to see their faithful parenting rewarded. My wonderful parents, Bonnie & Vern …

And, here I am now … having decided what to make for part of our New Years Day meal: Bogart’s Black Eyed Peas. Very easy. Combine three cans of black eyed peas (do not drain), 2 cans of marinated artichoke hearts (quartered), 1/2 package of bacon bits (cooked), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp minced onion. Heat through, simmer until the liquid reduces. Serve on brown rice.

What fruit will 2012 produce? I know not, but I know He who holds my future and that is all I really need to be confident about. I’ve learned one thing by this time: Trust is needful and it is one of the best coping skills you can develop. I’ve yet to perfect it, but that is what the future is for … building a better me/you, year after year. If I live to be a hundred, dang, I’ll be awesome by then. Happy New Year to all of my farmgirl friends out there. I hope 2012 will be a good one for you, one & all.

  1. Debbie says:

    Dear Sister Shery,
    Happy New and Old Year! It does my heart good to know your 2011 was a happy one. We all know life has it’s ups and downs and that’s just the way it is. So, to relish in the years with more happy than sad is a must! You did just that here today. I would say you had a beautiful year, one of quiet reflection, many blessings and a heap of faith to go with it. New ( like/love ) is a blessing in every family! Congrats to Beth and her new man! Our highlights this year were good health all around. My hubby’s SAD, wasn’t so bad, both or our mothers were healthy, our children continue to grown and surprise us with their interests and talents. We too brought home some early spring life in our latest flock of young cottage hens. One might not think this is a blessing, but my husband was let go just before Christmas…No worries here though! We were preparing for such a time and are very excited about what HE has in store for us. It was time for a change and we are ready! 🙂
    One of my biggest highlights of 2011 is sharing the farmgirl blogging lime light with you and our other sisters and getting to know our readers better!

    God Bless you Shery. See you in 2012!!!
    Hugs from your beach/farmgirl sister…

  2. Susabelle says:

    This year’s highlights:
    Got laid off (boo)
    Got a new job (yay)
    New job meant moving across the country away from family/friends in Missouri (boo)
    Moving meant moving to Colorado within the shadow of the Rockies, a place I have always wanted to be (yay)
    Sold half of what we owned to afford the move (boo)
    Everything we brought with us survived the trip (yay)
    Family is somewhat homesick (boo)
    I’m happier than I’ve ever been (yay)

    It isn’t perfect, we are renting a house that has now gone into foreclosure, but we are protected by the law, and we’ll find another more appropriate place. My job is awesome, my husband was able to find work when he got here, as was my 18 year old daughter, my 9 year old daughter is doing great in her new school, we live in an wonderful small-town-style city after coming from a big metro area, we are getting a real winter, my asthma is gone, my knees don’t hurt anymore, we know all of our neighbors by their first names, and I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my life.


    Sounds like more yays than nays :o) Best wishes for a lot more yays all the way around in your new life by the Rockies!

  3. nameTerry says:

    Happy New Year dear Shery. This was the best year in awhile for me, for various reasons. One being reconnecting with you, moving close to Grandkids and family, and priming the pump for the creative juices to begin flowing once again. Despite the 2 1/2 yrs of joblessness, we are SO BLESSED! Love, Terry


    Oh Terry, I know it is has been a tuff pull for ya’all. I hope 2012 is a reap year for you … in which case, the blessings should be a mile high for you. xo, shery

  4. Dear Shery, You have indeed had a colorful year! As always, I LOVE your photographs, and you have inspired me to take a photography course and one on Photoshop this semester to better acquaint myself with the digital photography world. Can’t wait for it to start in a couple of weeks. What a beautiful year you have had. Congratulations, and thanks so much for sharing it with us … as usual, I have savored every part of your post. Our family can likewise look back on 2011 with gratitude. Our country inn business is hanging in there despite the sluggish economy; our oldest son Christopher married a smart and beautiful woman named Elizabeth in June, and it was one of the most beautiful and thoughtfully planned weddings the world has ever seen! Our second son Noah got engaged and we have his wedding to look forward to in 2012. Our daughter spread her wings and started college at the Maine College of Art in Portland in September, and is thriving there. We now have lots of undivided time with our remaining (homeschooled) son Joshua as he adjusts to being an ‘only’ child! I made a precious new friend/kindred spirit this fall, and we were also able to buy a little peninsula on the coast of Maine for my slaty dog hubby to dream about! It has been a year full of blessings. I wish you a very happy new year full of the same, and look forward to every one of your posts. Much love and hugs from your Mountain Farmgirl Sister, Cathi


    Sister Cathi,  I was awed at the wedding photos you shared on your blog. Beauty-full !!! I dream about a New England trip in which I visit both the beach farmgirl blogger and YOU. Ya just never know, MAYbe it can happen one fine day. As for photography, I need to take a class. The new ‘idiot proof’ cameras make it easy to skip that part, but I really ought to do that. I could do a much better job if I actually knew what I was doing rather than let the camera do all my thinking :o)  I hope your new year is everything you hope for and full of surprises too…of the blessed sort…like your new kindred spirit friend!   A hug right back atchya,  shery


  5. Joan says:

    Thank you Dear Sister Shery for the wonderful look back. Your every word brought a thought of my year to mind and yes I too was well blessed. I’m going to try do some picture taking of life this next year to help me remember at the end just how wonderful it was – yes I am looking forward to another blest year and all you Sisterhood bloggers help make it a time to live for. Happy New Year to you and yours – congratulations to your sis and her mate.
    God Bless,

  6. Jan says:

    Hi Shery, What a lovely blog to finish out the year 2011. Congrats to your sister and the new "like" in her life! It was so nice to see that you and your family had such a happy Christmas, and wonderful year with many blessings.
    The biggest highlight of the year for me was the purchase of my palamino boy, Jasper. He is a delight and him and my mare are now best friends. So glad that worked out! Another blessing was having my brother home for Christmas this year. It has been many years since we have been together at this time.

    I am looking forward to 2012 and praying it will be the year that I get my place in the country. Have been trying to settle with seller on a little place, but haven’t been able to get the deal closed yet. Being alone makes things a bit more difficult.

    Many blessings to you and your family this new year!!
    Jan in KS

    Dear Jan, Thank you kindly for the good wishes and kind words. I’m seeing you lope along a dirt road back home to your new digs in the country…and hoping that is just what happens.

  7. Janice K. says:

    Wow, Shery! Such a perfect end to a wonderful year..Now I know where you and your sister get you beautiful genes, as your folks are both so attractive! Yes, you are blessed to still have both of them and I know that you appreciate their presence…Your sister and her honey just GLOW with happiness…
    Happy new year to all!

  8. meredith says:

    Oh Shery! I am happy for you that 2011 was such a good year for you and your family! What a great way to enter 2012! This year has been full of blessings for our family, some really tough times that have proved blessings in the long run. HE knows what we need and when we need it! Happy New Year and cant wait to read more from you in the new year!

  9. Diann says:

    Well, as most of you, there have been good and bad. I still work in a stressful job (law enforcement) but I have a job! I need a new roof on my 113 year house, but I still have a roof over my head! My hog population exploded, got four little calves, my chickens and doves are happily producing and the garden was doubled this year. I am presently sitting at my desk looking out over the plains and into the Sierra Nevada Mtns. at Yosemite Natl. Park….sigh….life is okay even with the negatives. My grown children experienced very positive job changes this year after a couple of really rough years and my granddaughters are thriving. I am finding it hard to remember the lows of this past year as those I love are well and thriving. So! A roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my table…all is well with the universe. Y’all have a blessed new year. I can truly say it has been a blessing and inspiration for me to read this blog. Thanks!

  10. bonnie ellis says:

    You rock! I LOVE your pictures and words. I love seeing life as it is in your world. I am counting only the blessings this year. We are healthy and heading into our 50th year of marriage March 17.Our town in Minnesota has disappointed us with no snow this year. some think it is great but I am sure tired of looking at brown. I got the new pocket Goosebery Patch calendar and in the front it says: "This year belongs to you". Happy New Year to all our farmgirls. Bonnie

  11. Terry says:

    How could I forget? Mom and Dad look GREAT!!

  12. Brenda says:

    thank you so much shery for the look back. Love the pictures. I do hope that 2012 is a blessing for all the farmgirls. I too am blessed to have my parents at the age of 84 and 86 I know to enjoy them as much as I can. I hope that I can connect with the farmgirls for a long time reading what you and the others write seems to bless me everytime. And I do get MaryJane magazine and look forward to it so much. I don’t have any farmgirls around me that I know of but am blessed with some dear friends and family. Happy New to you May 2012 be all you want it to be.

  13. Linda says:

    I loved your pictures! I live out here in the flinthills and plains of Kansas.
    You look alot like your mother. Two cute gals.
    Now what I really want to know is what was in Beth’s celluloid box? It sounded like it was full already! I love the idea.
    Read you and all the gals each time.

    Or should I say read and look? Great photographer, too!

    Happy New Year!



    Hi Linda…and thank you – thank you.

    I made my sister a necklace and bracelet set.   shery

  14. Becky says:

    What a wonderful, magical blog. . .thanks for sharing your beautiful part of the world with us and the pictures of a lovely country Christmas

  15. Lisa Taylor says:

    Happy New Year Shery
    As I sit here reading this month’s blog, it’s early morning and I’m looking out the window at a nearly full moon. It promises to be another beautiful Colorado day.
    I want to thank you for sharing your Jeweled Chutney receipt with us. My 10-year-old niece, Brianna, and I made it to give as Christmas gifts and was it ever a hit! We did however change the name to Lisa and Brianna’s Jeweled Chutney. She made labels (in her own sweet handwriting) and tied them on with raffia. It was wonderful bonding in the kitchen with my sweet girl.
    Love, love, love the blog.
    Stay warm in Wyoming and thanks for all you do.


    Please tell Brianna that I’m so tickled that HER batch of chutney was so well received :o) Making gifts as children is a golden life-long lesson. Thank you for the kind words.   shery 

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