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.

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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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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.

There’s always something new

I’d started this post 7 months ago, and never finished it. Yesterday I had another idea that very closely related to this draft. So here I am, in June to finish a post I started in December.

In my house every day is an adventure with two young boys. Whether it be grandma calling to tell me “you know what your son did,” or how the boys are starting to interact (or fight) with one another.

In December it was one of those, “How did you do that?” nights. The youngest was nearly two years old, and as he was then and even now, he finds ways to keep us on our toes. On that night, I had changed his diaper and didn’t put his pants back on because bath time was nearing. In the 10 minutes we’d been back out in the living room he’d done something – probably screaming – to merit a few minutes in the corner to think about it. While he was in the corner I started to look for something to watch on TV. Then I heard a noise. I looked over there and Chance was sitting proudly holding up his diaper for me. I could do nothing but laugh. He was pretty dang proud of himself.

More recently the babysitter called right before noon to ask if the oldest went to school that day. Indeed he had, but the bus hadn’t shown up nearly 50 minutes after dismissal. I called the school (in a panic) and got transferred around, but finally found out his bus was delayed because of a parent who was late. By the time I’d gotten the babysitter called back Shaun had arrived safe and sound.

In early May we got a decent amount of rain and it filled the ditches on either side of our drive way. Even though it was still pretty cool, the boys decided it would be a good idea to play in the mud. Mom was not impressed when I opened the back door to call them in for supper and found them both standing in knee-deep mud and covered in it. I had to laugh. At least it wasn’t cow manure. (Speaking from experience.)

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And again this past weekend we had one more of those moments that merited a blog post. It was Sunday before Memorial Day and the boys and I headed out to feed horses. They enjoy going in the round pen next to the horses because it has solid metal walls that are about 6 feet tall. They can run and scream to their heart’s content. I’ve considered putting their toys in there to contain them, but after our experience Sunday night I’m reconsidering. I’d shut the gate on them and in the time it took me to dump one more bucket of grain and walk to the gate on the horse pen, Shaun was screaming, “SNAKE!” The boys have had it drilled into their heads to run if they see a snake. I went over there thinking it was a bull snake like we’d encountered a couple of weeks before. Nope, this time it was a baby rattlesnake. I instructed them (after taking a photo) to go get their dad. He happened to be outside and heard the commotion. He promptly told me to kill it. “With what?” I asked. Eventually the menace was removed from the round pen and life resumed. Although grandma isn’t quite so sure she wants to return to our house.

I’m sure I’ll have many more stories like the couple I shared in this post, and since I didn’t start the boys baby books, my blog will have to suffice. What have your kids done that left you scratching your heads? Share if you’d like!

My dear boys..

Saturday was one of those days. It started out relatively good with the boys and I, but it eventually progressed into a loud, messy mess. My youngest is nearly 20 months old and doesn’t go to daycare. It’s come time for him to get out more and be around other kids. So we’ve been going to a local Learn N’ Play group every other Saturday.

Play group went well until it was nearly over. For an hour, the kids sing, paint, explore and play. Of course, there are snacks as well. My youngest has a tendency to stuff food in his mouth like a ravenous beast who doesn’t know when his next meal may come. All the while he is running around and being, well almost two. When it came time to sing the goodbye song, Chance decided he needed to roll around on the carpet while everyone was singing around him. And of course he had stuffed a whole cracker in his mouth. Then came the coughing and eventual choking and mom having to scrape wet cracker out of his mouth. Fun stuff. He was ok with some time on my lap and a little water. Apparently the oldest didn’t like the attention little brother was getting and decided he needed to get my attention too – in a bad way, of course.

Shaun knows exactly how to push my buttons. Saturday was no different than any other day. He wasn’t listening. He was arguing and defiant to a degree. It subsided until late in the afternoon when he was seriously lacking a nap. I’d had one too many, “But, Mom, why’s” than I could stand. I yelled. I spanked and I sent him to his room. Then I felt guilty. Always with the guilt.

I really never pictured myself being a mother. Before I had children, I had my horse and dogs. Furry “kids” sufficed. They were cared for better than I cared for myself and I had no qualms about it. I loved them and they loved me. I was 30 when I got married and 32 when I had my oldest. Some may call it selfish the way things have worked out, but I can tell you this, there are reasons I waited. I lacked patience. I lacked calm. I lacked knowledge. I still feel like I lose my cool way to easily and don’t know what the hell I am doing. But I do know I love those boys and they keep me on my toes.

Saturday afternoon while they were both sleeping I had to get out of the house. I thought about saddling my old horse, but her feet were in unacceptable condition. So instead, I dug out the rope and roped the dummy. I hadn’t picked up a rope in years. It was therapeutic. Swinging (at times) the rope as hard as I could and catching the plastic calf head. I may or may not have smacked the rope down on the bale out of frustration from the day’s events. I was fed up and not happy with how this parenting gig was turning out. I wanted to be able to ride my horse whenever I wanted. I wanted to drive my pickup and go to a barrel race and not worry if I would be back late.

I have been unhappy with this phase in my life, and probably not nearly vocal enough about it. I haven’t been to a barrel race in two years. I haven’t rode since early spring. It feels like a part of me is gone. I know barrel racing and riding are always possibilities, but it feels like I’m never going to have that special horse or have the “time” to ride and actually GO. I want my boys to ride and eventually rodeo if they want to, but its hard for me to do that all by myself. It’s hard to saddle a horse when one kid is jumping around like a goon and the other one is screaming trying to claw his way up into the saddle before his brother gets there.

I’m jealous of those mothers who several weeks after they had their latest kid are back in the saddle.  They are more dedicated than I am, but in the end our situations are different. They don’t have old horses or a husband who works (what feels like) a million miles away. They are younger, have the desire to go and drag the kids along. I have hell dragging mine to the grocery store, much less a barrel race with a couple of horses. I’m sure there’s a solution, but I haven’t found mine yet. That or just come give me a swift kick in the pants.

Competing at the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association event in Syracuse, Kansas, June 2009. (Photo by Lone S Photo.)

Competing at the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association event in Syracuse, Kansas, June 2009. (Photo by Lone S Photo.)

Harvest

The very word harvest conjures up many childhood memories. As far back as my memory recollects, wheat harvest was a time like no other. Sure, there was stress, arguments, breakdowns and a rush to get the grain to the elevator, but there was also pride, hope and dreams fulfilled.

My dad quit farming shortly after I graduated from college in 2002. I really can’t remember my “last” harvest on the acres he worked, but I do have memories spanning most of my childhood. From my flip-flop that got lost in the bed of the truck and was later retrieved at the elevator, to the grape pop in glass bottles and the fights that ensued over the window seat in the truck, harvest time was special. Dad worked his butt off from the beginning of the work day until there wasn’t a speck of sunlight in the sky. He was dirty, tired and frazzled, but once the crop was in the bin he was happy.

Mom always said, “after harvest” we could get new shoes or get something special that we’d been wanting. They also got to pay bills, allowing them to farm another year. Most times, harvest was during the middle of June or sometimes later and since the Fourth of July was always so close, Dad would splurge (totally break the bank) on fireworks. He would come home with gigantic boxes – one for each of us 3 girls – and we would light stuff on fire well into the night. He’d also buy rodeo tickets to the local prorodeo. Most times for every night, getting the same row and seats if he could. Or we got a new belt, pair of boots or some jeans.

Since my husband has taken over his family’s 100-year-old farm in Clark County, the wheat crop has been less than stellar. His first crop was a failure because of drought conditions, as were the following crops. This year however, he managed to get the wheat in the ground when he needed to and received some necessary rains at the right times. It was nice to see the bin on the combine get full fast and not take quite a few acres to fill. I could see the pride in his eyes when he was crunching numbers in the truck and telling me what it made. It sure made my heart happy to see him relieved and proud all at once.

It was also the first time both boys had gotten the opportunity to ride in the combine while wheat was being cut. Shaun’s no stranger to the tractor and anytime he gets a chance to ride in the big machinery he will have to be peeled out of it, kicking and screaming. Chance was just taking it all in. Seeing them enjoy it made me pretty darn proud.

As always, I had the camera with me and found the right shot to take. Enjoy! Happy harvest!

A broken down combine gets checked out while another dumps, June 24 in Clark County, Kansas.

A broken down combine gets checked out while another dumps, June 24 in Clark County, Kansas.

Innocent projects

It started innocently enough. Last night Shaun wanted to play outside. It was the first nice night in a week. The sun was shining and there was no wind. I sat on the steps thinking about how it’d be nice to have shade in the front of the house where all their stuff is and a real chair to sit in. Off to the shopping app on my phone looking for an appropriate solution. That didn’t last long as I had to put the phone away since the youngest was heading for the mud, again.

Today, I had one errand to run at lunch time – to pickup a prescription at the store. I thought, heck, I’m here might as well go see what kind of patio furniture they have left. Not much appealed from browsing through the patio sets at the store, but that’s normal. I did see some plastic lawn chairs, and as I was snapping a pic I thought, I wonder how far the wind would take these? Then I thought, get a “snubber rubber” and attach it to the porch when the wind is going to blow. Why not? We’re pretty redneck as it is.

Driving back to the office I thought, I wonder what I could find on Pinterest to fix up the back “patio” area of our house? I had 30 minutes to kill. I use patio VERY loosely to describe the east side of our house. There’s not much time spent out there, and it’s pretty ugly. How bad is it when I feel as though I accomplished something by pulling out all the cheat grass and weeds from around the air conditioning unit? There’s a non-functional barbecue grill and various odds and ends that need to make it into the trash.

The first thing I ended up pinning was about how to make a fire pit and a cover to keep the kids out when it isn’t being used. It also can double as a table. Perfect I thought. I snapped a pic and texted it to my husband. I’m assuming his non-reply was because I had found another project for him? More looking and pinning.

My 30 minutes on Pinterest turned into 45 and by then I had sketched out a plan to build a patio cover out of pressure treated wood and galvanized metal. That turned into an idea to elevate it and get rid of the steps on the sliding glass door and have a wooden deck area under the new patio cover. Even a pony wall to block out the AC unit and have a little “wind break” for the grill. Lots of plans, lots of plans.

As I tried to get back to work, I wondered if something like this will ever come to fruition. My husband and I have talked about building a garage, and that’s a big step and most likely an expensive one because it would likely be a multi-purpose building, containing an office space, storage room, a place to park vehicles and likely a place for livestock and horse stuff. It’s a dream really.

We’ve dreamed of having a yard and now with all the rain, it’s looking like we have grass and not just weeds. Heck, my husband even spread weed and feed around the yard we do have growing and put out some grass seed in the bare spots on either side of the house. We were both pleased when the grass actually came in and continues to grow. Baby steps. Some day we will have a patio and a garage. It’s only taken us 5 years to have grass!

Looking east from the back door following a rain in early May.

Looking east from the back door following a rain in early May.

Have you noticed?

Have you noticed it’s getting light earlier in the morning and staying light until well past 6:30? I have.

(And I choose not to notice that I haven’t blogged in three months.) 🙂

They say people tend to get more depressed when there are minimal hours of sunshine during the winter. I have to agree. I get home from work and the next thing I know it’s the boy’s bed time and I have an hour of peace before I have to go to bed myself. My hour to myself is not usually productive at all. Heck, last night I spent it enjoying a beer, sitting in the dark and watching crap on TV.

I used to rush home and spend my hours to myself riding and working with my horse. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted. I didn’t have to worry about having a babysitter or that the youngest boy would implode because he was hungry or feeling particularly clingy at the moment.  Oh, my how times have changed.

I did notice that the time changes on Sunday. So maybe I will have a little more daylight to do outdoor activities when I get home from work. We will see if the boys become willing participants in Mom’s wanting to ride and if Grandma will be a willing babysitter after her daytime duties end with Chance. If not I’m afraid this momma just may implode herself!

My husband said I’m easily annoyed

On Nov. 1 I was sitting watching TV while the boys napped. Scrolling through Facebook most friends were sharing photos of their kids on Halloween. I had done the same. My ears perked when I heard jingle bells ringing on a commercial for some store. Seriously, I thought. Halloween was JUST yesterday.

Later in the evening we were watching a football game, and the same commercial I had watched earlier in the day was on, and I made the comment rather sarcastically, “And so it starts..” What starts? My husband asked. The barrage of Christmas commercials. “Oh you’re annoyed by everything,” he said. I rolled my eyes and shook my head at him.

But it’s true. Christmas commercials before Halloween annoy me. Christmas commercials after Halloween annoy me. Christmas commercials before thanksgiving annoy me. But yet, I’m planning my assault on buying Christmas gifts for the boys and family. I haven’t bought anything yet, but it’s always good to have a plan.

As a kid I don’t remember being barraged by Christmas. I do remember the excited girls who marked pages in the JC Penney and Sears catalogs with the items they wanted. I do remember participating and going to practice for the annual Christmas Eve program at church (I was always an angel). I do remember bundling up for the ride to Grandma and Grandpa Wetzel’s for a day of packages, food and fun on Christmas day. There was no telling what could happen when all my mom’s siblings got together for a day. I remember one impromptu snowball fight that ended up in wet clothes and a lot of laughter.

Now that I have kids of my own I try to make their Christmas experiences memorable. Last year we took Shaun around to look at the lights and he still asks if we could go drive through those neighborhoods in town to see the decorations. At the little country church we attend on Christmas Eve, members circle the church at the end of the service and hold candles while singing Silent Night. Last Sunday at church Shaun asked if we could blow out the candles again. I told him at Christmas time we will.

It’s really not about the packages or the commercialization of the holiday. The point of Christmas is to remember the real reason it is celebrated, and to spend time with friends and family.

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The aftermath of Christmas 2013 at our house.

 

Almost perfect

During the last couple of weeks on my Facebook feed, there have been friends of mine who have “liked” several news stories about babies that showed up on my newsfeed. Being a mother I clicked on them, even though I knew they weren’t pleasant topics.

The first one was a blog post about OB nurses and the hell they go through helping deliver babies. Just about every thing the blogger talked about I had experienced in the delivery room, except one. I read in angst as the nurse described a mother losing blood and flat lining. One sentence stuck with me, (although I don’t remember exactly what it said) but it was to the effect that the new baby will never get to be held by its mother. I about cried and I’m not a crier.

What if that had happened to me? I am a worrier and I play out situations in my head with various outcomes. With my youngest son, busy nurses didn’t get me up in a timely manner after my c-section and I couldn’t get out of bed when they finally did return. I get light-headed thinking about how hard it was to stand up and the overwhelming nausea I felt when I finally did. I nearly passed out trying to make it back to my bed. The nurse kept telling me she was going to have to give me the smelling salts. Let me tell you that stuff was awful. I was completely out of it and apparently my blood pressure had tanked. It reminded me of the time I got a lung full of anhydrous ammonia when dad was farming and I was helping switch tanks as a kid and the hose popped off.

The second link that I clicked on was about a couple who had a decided to go ahead and have their baby who had a genetic disorder, trisomy 13. Always fatal, the disorder doesn’t allow children to live more than a couple of days if they survive birth at all. As I watched the video of the couple with their final moments with Thomas, I nearly cried. The dad was so gentle and tender, explaining all the things they could fix on his little boy. I remember with my first son feeling the trepidation of getting tested for trisomy 13. I was 32 when I had Shaun and with age there are more chances for birth defects. I was relieved when we found out he was perfect as far as chromosomes and genetics go. Although I was now 35, I had less worry with Chance taking the test. I think it was because I had been through the agony of waiting before. Our second test again was a good result.

Yesterday I noticed someone had liked a page on Facebook called Prayers for Shane. Of course I had to go look. Not knowing what anenecphaly was I went searching for an explanation. I was taken aback by the photos and what the disease does to the poor babies. But none the less, the little ones were beautiful. Last week on the Prayers for Shane page they had photos of the young family and the new baby Shane. The little guy passed away within hours of his birth. My heart ached for them. Made me want to squeeze my babies a little tighter when I get home tonight.

At some point I will have to stop reading all things related to babies and pregnancy. Being a worrier, those kinds of posts will likely get the best of me. My boys are perfect in their own ways and I need to remember that. Regardless of what they do to annoy their mother, they are mine, they are here and I love them. I don’t like the word blessed because it gets overused, but I am truly blessed. My boys are healthy, happy and pure joy.

Chance and Shaun showing off their pumpkins.

Chance and Shaun showing off their pumpkins.