The good Lord is watching

The pens are now empty. There’s no more bawling calves or cows looking after their babies. The leftover bales of hay sit in the farm yard. The round top shed is a little emptier. Our souls are a little emptier too.

If you would have told me five and a half years ago this is how it’d end up I wouldn’t have believed you. But this is what it’s came down to. The cowherd is at the livestock auction as I type this. Some probably have already been sold.

There’s been an agreement reached and now we have to move on. We have to depend on ourselves more than we ever have. I took some photos on Sunday because the light was so very beautiful and I wanted one last reminder of the day. I posted them on social media and had more than a few people reach out with encouragement. One comment from a dear friend read, “This may not be the day you want, but the good Lord is watching.” She is so right. We have to pick ourselves up and do the right thing. We have to do what is right for us.

Nearly 3 months ago the ugly wildfires on the day I buried my Dad was the worst thing I’d been through in my 38 years on earth. Sunday when we hauled those cows, calves, bulls and heifers to town is squarely situated in second place for worst experiences of my life. I’ve hauled cattle to town before because of the drought, not knowing if Dad’s pasture would ever have momma cows and scampering babies in it. It did.

I was at a meeting a few weeks ago covering it for my day job. The speaker helped attendees gather the tools they needed to make hard decisions and remain profitable in ranching. One thing he said was, “those cows will be dead in 15 years, but that land will be there forever.” How true and it really struck a chord with me. It’s hard to look at life that way when the cattle who have been the center of my husband’s universe since 2012 are being loaded into a truck to be sold.

As we prepare to move on and become the people we want to be, I look toward the future. I can’t help but wonder how things will eventually turn out. Another good friend told me yesterday if this door you’re seeking doesn’t open, then maybe there’s something better coming. I sure hope so. I’ve had enough of the bad.

Dad would know

In the month plus since my Dad has died, I’ve had more than a few instances where I desperately wanted to pickup the phone and ask him something. Car is making a funny noise, ask Dad. Tires are wearing funny, ask Dad. The neighbor has a new pickup, ask Dad where it came from. He’d know.

My husband and I were coming back from the dentist office and noticed a shed along the highway getting new metal siding. I thought the property was owned by someone else, he thought the guy using it owned it. Without even missing a beat, I said, I bet Dad would know. Then I sighed. My Dad was a bit of a gossip and loved to find information out before anyone else.

The other day a coworker asked where my Dad’s name Valere came from. I don’t recall any conversation besides the one where we were told his mother came up with it. So off to Google it I go. Valere is Latin and means to be strong or be well. In French it means brave. I like the second meaning better. Dad was brave. He wasn’t always right, but he did what he wanted and lived life his way. To me that’s brave.

Lately I’ve been going through some issues in my personal life and they’ve all seemed to heap on me at once. I was looking for verses, quotes and sayings on Pinterest and the Be Brave ones just really struck me. I even created a cover photo for my Facebook page that says just that. I don’t like change. I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone. I also don’t like people who are mean and do things to hurt others. I’m trying really hard to forgive a couple of those people, but it’s just easier to forget them. I have to be brave to do that.

I’d also been sitting on a couple of voice mail messages that I couldn’t make myself listen to. Mostly because they were from my Dad. My phone has been giving me the dreaded “storage is full” and I’ve been trying to clean it up since I’m too cheap to get a new phone right now and don’t want to lose any of the 4,000-some odd photos I have on there. So one night when I was feeling particularly down, I was brave and listened to them. Same old Dad message, “Kylene, this is your Dad. Call me back.” But this time I could hear the age in his voice. I could hear the sickness. I could hear all the things I never wanted him to be. Especially gone.

Those phone messages are still there. I was brave enough to listen to them again, but I’m not brave enough to delete them. They just might migrate to a new phone when I decide to purchase another. I’ve got plenty of room for the next photos for now. I don’t have to be brave all at once.

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Dad and I during the Father-Daughter dance at my wedding, July 18, 2009.

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I don’t get it

My 3-year-old son, Chance, has been saying, “I don’t get it” for the past couple of weeks. I’m not real sure when he picked it up or why he continues to say it. Makes me think he knows a lot more than I give him credit for.

Does he understand why his Mom and Dad have been stressed?

Does he understand his Grandpa Orebaugh died and he won’t see him any more? Does he understand why Grandma is sometimes sad?

Does he know the farm burned to the ground and he won’t get to spend the time in the same places his Dad did?

Does he know his Mom and Dad are trying to continue a legacy?

I sure hope he understands these things. Well not right now, but in time. I hope he understands we are doing the best we can for him and his brother.

Families sometimes suck. Friends sometimes suck. Some people just suck. When times get tough the true colors and friends will show. Those who care will be there. Those who have nothing to gain by helping won’t. Those who care will pray. Those who don’t won’t.

I don’t get why people change face and leave behind the ones they once cared for. I don’t get how people let money get in the way of their happiness. I don’t get why our most favorite people have to leave us and leave messes behind.

I don’t get it either Chance.

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The Lord will provide

I haven’t written in some time. Work has been busy. Life has been busy. I now have a tiny bit of time so I’m going to take it to write something about what we’ve been doing, and what has been on my mind.

My Dad, Valere Orebaugh passed away early on March 1. He’d been in and out of the hospital and was moved to a nursing home where he was supposed to get better and go home. He had days where he was better, but the bad days started out numbering the better ones. The day before he died Mom called us all in and I secretly hoped my boys being there would snap him out of it. But it really didn’t. I do know he knew we were there and he was surrounded by his family at least for a few hours.

This morning I was helping Chance get dressed and he said, “that smells like Poppa.” I’m not real sure what he smelled, but I didn’t catch a whiff of it, so I wasn’t for sure. I was telling an acquaintance at lunchtime about what he’d said and she shared her own wisdom on the subject. Chance and my Dad spent a lot of time together the past 2 years, and I’m not real sure how much a 3-year-old can grasp about death, but I do know he misses his grandpa.

When I was coming into the office this morning, I paused to gather my things and make sure I had everything and realized the song I heard the morning my dad died was again on the radio. I don’t know if I’d heard it since the day he died on the station, but there it was My Old Man by the Zac Brown Band.

And while I was working on pages this morning, I had my normal Pandora radio station playing and it was Stoney Larue’s “Forever Young.” That was the song I had played at my wedding for the Father/Daughter dance. When it was time to choose a song for the dance, I really couldn’t decide on one. A friend suggested one to me, and at the time it just fit. It still does. I think I chose it because I always wanted him to be forever young.

For as long as I can remember I thought of my dad as young, even though he was one of the older parents of my classmates. Maybe it was because he was tanned and strong, spending his days on the tractor or outdoors. Maybe it was because he liked new things. More than once I remember Mom cussing him because he came home with a new pickup or a new pair of boots.

But these last few years have been hard with his health. In 2007 he had a quadruple bypass surgery and even then they told him his time was limited. His heart was pretty badly damaged and they told him he wasn’t a candidate for the transplant list because of his age and health. Admittedly I was shocked we had him for 10 more years. I’m thankful for those extra years. He got to meet my two boys and become a part of their lives.

While planning Dad’s funeral we came across his wishes for the memorial and he wanted to be buried in a small country cemetery. The land around it was farm ground he used to rent and farm when we were kids. I remember helping him switch out anhydrous tanks at this particular place and watching the hose come off, spraying the noxious gas everywhere. He yelled at me, “get in the pickup!” It was a pretty scary situation, but we were both lucky to come out unscathed.

On the day of his funeral it was terribly windy. Gusty, nasty wind. But it was also nearly 80 degrees so it was almost tolerable during the graveside service. Once we’d returned to the church we all noticed heavy smoke clouds in the south part of town. It was not a good situation. After we’d returned home my husband’s phone rang. A family friend alerted him to a fire very near the Scott farm. It wasn’t good. In fact it was awful. The farmhouse, the barn, hay stockpile and grass all burned. The cows and calves managed to survive, but there have been a few that had to be culled because they weren’t going to have the quality of life they deserve.

I work for an agricultural publication and was asked to write about my experience. You can read my post titled, “The worst day of my life” on the High Plains Journal website. After I’d returned home after seeing the devastation with my own eyes, I called my mom and said, “I don’t know if I can even write it.” She said just do it.

This past week its been read and shared a number of times. I got to speak with Kansas Senator Pat Roberts about my experience and he even read my words on the floor of the Senate in Washington DC. Yesterday, I received a letter from Kansas Senator Jerry Moran. Both were moved by the strength in my words. I’m not real sure how much strength I do have, as it’s really a trying situation. But one thing I do know is farmers and ranchers are some of the best people on the planet. We’ve gotten truckloads of hay. Offers to help us pick up the pieces. All of it, we are so grateful for. Words cannot express how much we are thankful for these people. I thanked a few of them in my second blog for work, “Only thing I know.”

At the Roberts fire tour, I overheard a woman from Englewood, Kansas who lost her home and all her belongings. She told the senator, “the Lord will provide.” And I believe her. Ask, and He will provide.

 

Promise and peace

How does the saying go? “You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.” Something like that I think. This past weekend, I tried like heck not to remember a certain date, but my Facebook wouldn’t let me forget. Neither would my Timehop app. Five years later it’s still hard not to remember the events of the last day my father-in-law Steve was still alive.

Before bed Sunday night, I was scrolling through Instagram like I do to let my brain disengage, when I happened across the words, “May every sunrise hold more promise, and every sunset hold more peace.” I thought, as much as I don’t want to write one more blog post about missing Steve and remembering the anniversary, I need to. I need to remember otherwise I just might forget.

The morning of Jan. 20, 2012, I captured several sunrise images out the patio door on the east side of my house. It was a Friday morning and I’m pretty sure I was the only one up. The sky radiated red. Now that I think about it, I should have taken that pretty sunrise as a warning – “Red sun at morning, sailors take warning.” It should have been my warning. Later that weekend our lives were forever changed.

Before my husband and I were married, I would have considered his family my friends. We weren’t officially married, but we might as well have been since we lived together for 7 years before deciding to make it official. I chose my friends to become my family when we decided to get married. As much as I hate to admit it, I got along with Steve a lot better than I did my own dad. We were a lot alike I think and although my dad and I share many similarities, we’re very different. Steve was often near by where we lived I could count on him being at the farm or work if I had trouble with something on the ranch or my way home.

The quote I found last night, “May every sunrise hold more promise, and every sunset hold more peace” makes me think that even with the red warning of the sunrise, by late that night even though we were heart broke at our loss, we had peace knowing he’d been found and didn’t suffer. I know in my heart he’s in heaven, but my head selfishly wishes he was still here. Here for my boys to get to spend time with their Grandpa Scott. Here for Chance to meet. Here for me to call when I need something or for me to tell him about the rattlesnake I killed or the tidbit of ag information I’d learned through work. Here for us.

 

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Steve Scott feeding Shaun Scott, Aug. 6, 2011.

Five years

My blog will be 5 years old on Jan. 11, 2017. Initially, it started as a way to get out the many thoughts I had swirling around in my head. It helped me get through maternity leave when my first son was born in May 2011. Same with the second in February 2014. It helped me get through the death of my father-in-law and other family and friends. More often than not, I write about subjects that annoy me or make me think, and often times others share my same thoughts and ideas.

Last week before the new year, I decided to go back and look at the statistics for my site. In 2016, I had one of the most viewed blog posts ever, I’m a rural voter. It had 6,517 views. I was completely blown away when it got shared and shared and shared again. In the history of my blog, I’d never had that kind of exposure. It also made me think about the subjects I write about on my blog and how they resonate with readers.

In 2016, I’d only written 11 blog posts, but garnered 8,415 views, most because of the rural voter post. Previously, the most views I’d gotten was 2,922 in the first year of blogging. I’d written 78 posts. So, I guess you can say, I’ve learned that less is more.

Here’s the top 6 posts in 2016:

  1. I’m a rural voter
  2. January 21
  3. Out of my comfort zone
  4. Losers live forever
  5. There’s always something new
  6. Thank you

I’d like to thank those who have taken the time to read my posts, and/or comment on them. Its amazing when people can relate to my thoughts and ideas. If you have any questions or ideas for me, just let me know. I look forward to interacting more with readers. Happy New Year!

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Who I am

I’m a mother. A working mother. Someone who puts in 40 hours a week; sometimes more, sometimes less. I spend 8 or 9 hours a day away from my boys and worry the entire time.

I’m a person who despite having a good job, where I’ve been for more than a dozen years, we still live paycheck to pay check. We have lots of wants, some means and a little bit in the bank at times.

I’m a person who wants to see her husband succeed. I want to see him have a cow herd and not having to work a job just so we can have health insurance.

I’m a mom who questions whether or not a sore throat merits a doctor visit. Not every sniffle or sneeze does so, but I second guess my choice. I’m thankful I have health insurance when I do have a sick kid.

I’m a horsewoman, who hasn’t ridden in more than a year. For years and years, my mare was the center of my universe. Ask my husband. He knew he was second place for many, many years. Now, I don’t “have time” to ride. The boys need shuttled around. I have work to deal with and they want to ride. There’s only 3 horses at the house, so when dad needs to work, guess where mom stays?

I would love to stay home and take care of cows, horses and kids, but lack of confidence, lack of experience and a little lack of patience keeps me working in town.

I’m a wanna-be photographer. I’m trying to get a few more clients after taking engagement photos for one friend and family photos for another. I absolutely love taking photos and capturing a beautiful scene. I hope people like my photos more than I do.

Last week I wrote about being a rural voter after the presidential election, and how I disliked being called an uneducated and rural voter. After fielding more than a dozen comments on my blog, I had to get away from the computer and get some fresh air. As I was feeding horses, I thought, “Who am I?” I always thought I was a writer, a photographer, a hard worker and I’m just me. I don’t like being called uneducated—especially since I’m still paying my student loans from my time at Oklahoma State University.

I came back in the house and wrote the above six paragraphs in about 12 seconds. Ok, maybe not that fast, but they came out on paper pretty quickly. The more I thought about it, the more I questioned who I was/am/were/will be. But who does it matter to who I am? Mostly me. I do my job, keep my head down and try not to cause much strife. I’ve changed over the years, and I hope the only one who is bothered by that is me. I’ve just got to be me.

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I’m a rural voter

I’m far from a political person. Never have been. Last night was the first time I’ve ever stayed up past my bed time to watch election results. The comments from one of the commentators about rural voters turned my stomach the moment I heard it. I’m one of those rural voters “forgotten” about in middle America.

I’m one of those rural voters who joined the droves to vote yesterday. I’ve voted in a half-dozen presidential elections since my first vote in 1996. This was the first time I had to stand in line and wait my turn to cast a ballot. I stood in line for an hour to vote, while others I know spent two. But I wasn’t disgruntled to do so. I was proud to let my little voice be heard.

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Rural to me, are my friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances. We love our little towns, our one stop light communities and the farmers and ranchers who are on our school boards and town committees. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being designated as rural (in my humble opinion.) What’s wrong with the rural designation is others assume by being rural, we’re uneducated and our votes aren’t as important. We’re not uneducated and our votes are just as important as someone who lives in downtown Denver.

The non-rural folks standing on the other side are unwilling to understand rural. I, however, try to see where they’re coming from. They don’t need us (so it seems.) They don’t see us. They don’t run into us on their streets or in their stores. They rarely come here. Do they appreciate all the things I appreciate of rural people? We’re mostly kind, mostly simple and most of all, we’re important. We’ve stood by the last 8 years and suffered through trade embargos, falling commodity prices and lack luster cattle markets and we’re still here. You won’t find us out in the streets destroying property and running a muck protesting. Rural folks are tough, and often can take a beating and keep on ticking.

I’m not upset by the election. I’m upset because of the words. I’m saddened people resort to name calling over something they don’t have much control over. And I too, as a member of the media, take offense to how these so-called journalists have chosen to take sides. I may be simple-minded because I chose to remain in agricultural media, but I’m still part of the media. I interview, photograph and tell the story of America’s famers and ranchers. I tell their stories in the most fair and balanced way possible. I may not always agree with what I’m listening to but I leave my bias and personal opinions out of my stories. I try to tell both sides. Truly, I don’t agree with mainstream media and all the misconceptions they’ve strewn about in this election.

I’m a woman and I’m offended by thoughts others have of my gender and why everyone assumes women should vote for a first woman president. We need a better candidate for the first woman president than we were presented with this year. I’m offended because I’m college-educated, rural and a woman and some hopped up “mainstream media” person just assumes I’m not important.

A college coach once told me don’t assume anything, it just makes an ass out of you and me. As much as I disliked the guy, he’s correct in his thinking. Mainstream media assumed their chosen candidate would win, but they were sadly mistaken when the rural votes pushed the eventual winner over the top.

So, before I fill another ten paragraphs about the election, I’m going to stop and say, if you don’t like something change it. If you don’t like what’s going on in America right now, start with your own home. Change things there, and it will snowball. We need stronger families, children and parents. We need strong workplaces. We need to improve ourselves before this country can get strong again.

 

**Edited to add: I had a comment on this post that lead me to add some more of my thoughts to the original post.**

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post and to spend the time to comment on it. I appreciate your insight! My post came about because I was fired up after listening to the commentators continually use the term “rural uneducated” out of context, out of connotation and the continued use of it during their broadcasts on election night.

I admitted in my first sentence politics is one of my least favorite things. Admittedly because of it, I don’t know all the specifics about each campaign, nor do I care to. Not once did I say whom I voted for or provide any indication of endorsement of a certain candidate. My 5-year-old son asked me who I voted for, and I told him frankly, that’s none of your business. It’s mine. He didn’t understand, but accepted it.

In my post, I made the statement, “What’s wrong with the rural designation is others assume by being rural, we’re uneducated and our votes aren’t as important.” Yes, by that, I mean we weren’t weighted appropriately in the polling data. We weren’t a serious consideration. Again, politics is FAR from my wheelhouse and I choose to be that way, because I don’t know the specifics about polling, data and the like.

I’m simple. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. What I do take case with is how our lawmakers make it difficult to live the way we want to. I’m sure others struggle with this as well, even though they’re not in agriculture.

Again, throughout my post, I was talking about how rural votes were overlooked (by the data) and mainstream media. Even though I didn’t come out and directly say that. I wasn’t discussing the polling data, bias or any other things you’ve mentioned. I’m not well versed in any of that, and prefer not to discuss something I don’t know much about and thus not comfortable with.

I don’t agree with mainstream media’s or your definition of me being less educated. I went to college and received two degrees. I worked hard to become educated, and I’m happily still paying off those student loans because of it. I’ve been out of academia since 2002, and I’ve lived life and learned from the college of hard knocks as well. I have parents who never went to college. My twin sister and I were the first in our family to graduate from college. I’ve learned from them and have common sense because of them. It takes talent, smarts and experience to operate the tractor, truck or pickup used to plow fields, haul crops to town or feed cattle. Just because many rural folks are what you deem uneducated does not mean they are unintelligent. Some of the farmers and ranchers I’ve met in my day job are the smartest, most intelligent people I’ve met and often don’t hold a college degree. I’ve also met those with multiple, upper-level degrees, and they are not someone I’d consider smart.

A friend of mine made a really good point to me about education and I’m going to steal her quote and share it here, “The minute you think that school diplomas make you educated, you come out to Kansas and help my husband overhaul a loader transmission and engine (which he did at age 14) and tell me how educated that college degree in Poli-Sci makes you feel. There are an overwhelmingly high number of dropouts in inner cities and urban areas, and a lack of good education in those areas. Out here, we have great education, smaller classes and a higher number of citizens who demand we be responsible for ourselves. Accountability is huge and part of that comes with being ‘educated’.”

So, even though, I don’t know what the president-elect will bring, what I hope is we can continue to live in rural America and prosper. Our definitions of prosper may be vastly different, but I want my children to have happy parents who work at something they love and at the same time can provide for the family. I don’t want us as parents to be saddled with debt because we choose to live in rural America.

 

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Out of my comfort zone

This past summer I was asked by one of my best friends to take her engagement photos. I told her sure, but I wasn’t making any promises on how good they’d turn out! Ha! But they turned out just fine. Better than I was expecting. I was pretty proud of them and asked her if I could share them on social media. Of course, she said. I was stoked at the reaction I’d gotten from friends, family and her contacts. I’d gotten energized about my photography again.

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So when a long-time friend asked to take her family photos a couple of months later, I agreed and again prefaced it with, “I’ll do my best.” The stars must have been aligned that afternoon. I had a babysitter. The grass was green and my subjects were stunning. Since she lived over an hour away I took my computer with me so she could look and pick out her favorites. Even though it was late when I finally got home, I knew I’d gotten something spectacular for her and her family. I couldn’t sleep that night because I was so jazzed about the images I’d captured for them. And again, I posted on social media and got rave reviews.

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After the engagement session and then the family session, I thought maybe this was something I can do to get my creativity flowing again. Something for me to do on nights and weekends to give me an outlet. Lord knows I need it.

So Kylene Scott Photography was born. For now, I’m focusing on southwest Kansas, mostly around Dodge City. I’m willing to take photos of families, kids, agricultural subjects or animals. I’ve taken baby photos of my own hooligans, but never for anyone else. And I don’t have all the neat props. I don’t have a studio either, but I do have a couple hundred acres of pasture and grasslands at my disposal. I love the golden hour and totally dig taking advantage of it.

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If you feel inclined go checkout my work that I’ve showcased on my Kylene Scott Photography Facebook page. If you know of anyone in my area, send them my way!

Be still my heart

Wednesday was the last official day of summer. I love summer time. The extra long days and warm weather. Tan lines and swimming pools. I even love the heat. I’m not as used to it as I once was, but I still like a good, dry heat with a little breeze.

The boys and I had arrived home later than normal on Wednesday because they wanted to stop and see their cousin. My husband was abnormally early that day and rode out to check the heifers and get a good count. He was closing the pasture gate when we got home and the boys begged from the backseat to go ride. Dad obliged and saddled all three horses. I started supper and went out to check on them only to be promptly left afoot since there was nothing left to ride. I went back in the house to get something and looked out the patio door to see the most beautiful light and my three boys riding across the CRP grass east of our house. I immediately grabbed my camera and shoes and headed out. As they got back to the house, the heifers had lined up against the horse pasture fence and I walked out to get some photos of them.

I couldn’t wait to get to the office the next day to see what I captured. The images I recorded made my heart swell. Of course I shared them on my social media and I’ve had way more praises than I ever wished for. I enjoy photography and enjoy my loyal subjects. I’ve also been teaching myself Lightroom, so I edited my favorites as well.

Here’s a few photos from that evening.

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