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.

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.

 

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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One of those days

Monday was one of those days. One of those days where I didn’t want to get out of bed. One of those days where I didn’t want to go to work. One of those days where I didn’t want to be an adult. But I had no other choice so I got out of my comfy, cozy bed and faced the day showered and clean.

Over the weekend my horse had developed a strange mark/welt/spot on her neck. I don’t know how else to describe it, but it hurt her and hurt me seeing her hurt. So when I got to the office, I waited patiently until 8 and called the vet. Not the local vet, but the one who I take her to when she’s got a lameness issue or something I don’t want to waste time and money on using someone else.

Driving to Buffalo later that morning, I thought, man, I sure would like to be able to not have to work from 8 to 5 in an office. It would be nice to be at home and working outside. Dealing with the livestock and helping out where ever I was needed.

By the time I got back home at 530, I had gotten my wish to be outside. There were heifers out in the yard and my husband called and said there was more out and someone had penned them up across the road without water. Of course it was getting close to being dark, and he was over an hour away. My attempts to get the heifers across the road failed miserably, so I went looking for where they may have got out and hoped the rest that I put back in stayed put.

Wishful thinking. Cattle again greeted me when I got home from work Tuesday evening and again Wednesday morning. I was an hour late to work, and spent some time attempting to fix the holes in the fence where they were getting out.  Guess we will see how good my skills are when I get home from work tonight..

I took a few minutes to take some photos with my phone while I was working of my scenery. Enjoy.

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