September First

It’s a small joy, the moment the sd card is removed from the trail cam after a long week and placed into the computer.

Husband trail cam

The first photo appears, evidence of the hands behind the curious camera and the even more curious mind of what lurks when no one is around.

bucks-eating-edit

Will a record-breaking buck step out from the shadows for a taste of sweet corn?

buck-trail-cam-corn

This hope is why the dusty cameras find themselves back in place, year after year.

buck-close-up

bucks-bluff

Another year of scrolling through the activity of the cautious, hoping something great will expose itself.

buck-fog-edit

It’s all pretty great, really.

deer-fog-edit

A new week begins, the cycle continues.

husband-trail cam

What will appear?…

trail-cam-me

Happy Labor Day!

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Walk Along the River

I don’t know about you, but we’ve had a non-dog days month of August so far.

along the river

It has been 60s in the morning and 80s at the highest throughout the day. July behaved poorly though, but August swooped in for the save. For our sake and the electric bill… not the crops so much.

along the river

By the water I seem to find myself much of the time this summer. It seems the older I get, the more I appreciate the privilege of being near the catfish and walleye (and garfish!) filled river.

Along the river

Some of my best Sundays are spent walking along the beach, helping Country Man look for arrowheads while behind us easily distracted small pups try to keep up, to later find their short legs tightly wound with burrs and weeds.

frog toad

During these excursions, we watch as the pups chase toad and butterflies along the riverbank until something else becomes more alluring. The sounds of fish splashing can be heard in the background.

butterfly

On one side of us is the water, responding to the sun with a twinkling fury, the other a lane of tall murky weeds where the sneaky ones prey. I feel them watching us whether they exist or not. In my mind a bobcat is stalking, fixating on Milo because he lags behind and would be the tastiest.

little-frog

Soon enough it will grow colder, and my boots will replace summer sandals, sweaters with swimsuits to go on our walks. It will be a different experience.

river-feather

One of these days I will find an arrowhead.

Planting Fields and Other Things

Well as some of you may know it’s planting time in Farmersville. And as we speak Country Man is in the field sowing corn, while I sit here eating a taco.

We both love tacos and tacos aren’t the same without him.

I often feel like with this blog, I talk about the same seasonal things and share the same seasonal photos.

It’s those same thoughts that both drive me mad about this lifestyle while offer up a deep appreciation for it.

The predictability of it all is nice, to see the farmers in the field, the truck drivers hauling hay, the calves discovering their legs in the open field.

I think I need it more than I love it.

We are still pushing forward with our hopes of expanding our little family. I know I don’t have to talk about it, but those of you who stick with this blog and read it are the most compassionate, kind people and I wish we lived closer so we could share a cup of coffee in the morning and talk in person.

But that’s not our option, and I am growing less and less afraid to share this part of our life, because it might help someone else and because I don’t feel bad about it anymore.

I am thankful for options. We have some neighbors, in their 70’s, who live on a five generation homestead and have never had children. It wasn’t until I met her and she said they have no one to pass their farm on to that I realized how fortunate we are to have science in our favor when it comes to needing medical intervention.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me during this season of our life. It’s my hope that whatever you are doing, you are well and happy.

Life is Good

Waiting on May Flowers

When will it be summer? We had a few nice days and now we are on day three of rain. Yes, the ground needs the rain, but I need the sun. Apparently Mother Nature is indifferent to my pleas.

We did have some nice days last week, which allowed us to get some projects done around the farm. Mostly feed and weeding the grass, mulching and so on.

Orange Kitty is a happy free cat, no longer locked away in the shed. We made the mistake of allowing a young kitty free range and he never came back.

We also spent a beautiful weekend at my parents over Easter.

We woke up late Easter morning and walked down the trail to the fort my dad built for us. My 90’s version dad was determined to build us one but he’s an entrepreneur at heart, and we abandoned it early on in fear of loose and rusty nails.

Even though it’s collapsed under it’s well-meaning craftsmanship, I like seeing it there as a reminder of one man’s attempt to create a home for childhood memories.

So yes, the rain. It will let up one of these days and we’ll have more like this:

Meanwhile, the buffalo doesn’t give a darn about the weather and runs around charging into hay bales. Something to learn from him I suppose.

Time Traveling

You are looking at my childhood right there.

One of the few memories so strong that even a hint of Wintergreen Skoal tobacco transports me back to a kitchen, where Grandpa’s round cans sat at the counter-end next to a bowl of colorful M&M’s, intentionally set out for our every giggly stay-over.

Jo-Jo in the kitchen, whipping up breakfast and Pap coming up to give her a kiss good morning, saying “My Jo-Jo” and we’d grin and greedily reply, “No, our Jo-Jo!”

Country Man and I visited the two at their Arizona home recently, and the moment my feet entered the doorway I was hit with such nostalgia that I almost cried. I was seven again, I was loved, life was so very uncomplicated. I am in tears thinking about it.

The thing that baffled me was how the smell was exactly the same. The combination of  soap, Wintergreen Skoal, and unique skin that combines into this most beautiful scent that if I could bottle it up, I would pay high dollar just for the opportunity to lift the lid and enjoy the time travel for the rest of my days.

My grandparents seemed the same to me, looked the same, too. They eagerly hugged us, lodged us, and fed us. Paps even played tour guide, a little more slowly than 22 years ago but with the same enthusiasm.

It might sound strange, but I missed them even while with them. I missed their youth, somehow jealous that I will never know their pre-grandparent selves. I miss my grandma’s beautiful laugh, my grandpa’s love for the flea market and how he called us “his girls”.

I  miss them because I have the crisp memories, and because some day, that’s all I will ever have.

Those Colorado Mountains

It’s Sunday morning, and Country Man is still sleeping off his recent trip to Colorado where the guys scoured the mountains for elk only to be deterred by the stubborn rain.

But with a view like this, was it really all loss?

His going away makes me think back on the first year, months, we were married, and how his upcoming week-long hunting trip made me sad to think about, wondering how I could survive six WHOLE days and nights without him next to me?

He would go over how to use a gun, remind me to lock the doors, and in the morning be gone before I had time to splash some cold water on my face. I remember that being a long week.

Now, six years later, there remains a quiet anxiety with knowing he’ll be leaving, mostly fear for his safety and wondering if he’ll be taken care of properly. However, those worries lay aside as my hopes for an experience only attained by time away in the mountains with no electronics or shower surface to the top.

I quickly find my own rhythm and create my own schedule, keeping busy like the independent mind that I am and thinking this isn’t so bad, I could do this forever maybe.

A week goes by and he tells me he will be in town at the newly opened coffee shop where I started working part-time, and I am so busy I forget.

It isn’t until I am wiping the counters up of espresso and spinach leaves after a hectic noon lunch that I see a tall man in a dark olive green shirt rush in, my heart recognizing him before my eyes and there was nothing stopping the grin and squeal spilling from my usually controlled expressions.

I think those Colorado Mountains brought him home more handsome than he left me…

and reminded me that while love changes with the years, it has a surprising strength and way of reminding you of what it’s all about in the end.

happy future campers we are

We (ok, me) have been wanting a pop-up camper for a long time, so when a friend was selling his at a reasonable price, we couldn’t pass it up.

I’ve already imagined all the places we will explore, and Country Man sees a fall season of more comfortable hunting trips.

pop-up camper

Oh yeah…

There are many tucked away spots to camp in South Dakota, as well as big name camping sites like the Badlands. Country Man has never been through it, so it’s high on our list for the next stay-cation.

As a kid, my neighbor took my sister and I and his daughters to the Badlands to camp, but I didn’t see it the way he did. The work, time and money invested into the travel, along with the beauty of the scenery and the break from everyday life. I’d like to go back there and see it with adult eyes.

Pop-up camper

Country Man set it up last night, and today I will fill it with sheets and blankets and kitchen tools.

The iced coffee is made, the animals are fed (including the buffalo calf, but that’s another post), the lawn is mowed, and the day is young.

Better get started. I just wanted to show off our new camper.

Jack the German Shorthair

See you soon!

South Dakota, another fly-over state (with pics of California).

“So you’re from South Dakota?”

“Yep, born and raised.”

“So… what’s there to do there?”

I was asked this often while visiting my sister in Napa Valley last week.

California Dock

And to be honest, I didn’t know what to say.

How do you answer that question in a part of the world so active, so busy and loud with the sounds of cars and people and pace?

I loved my visit, adored the city.

Napa Valley, California

But that question still lingered.

I live in the country, as you know, and none of the following are available to me, not even close.

The decision to walk down the street and stop for a beer or wine, to shop, to maintain anonymity in this fast-paced populated world I forget we live in until I see it in action.

Napa Valley, CA

Nope, not here.

South Dakota sky

South Dakota

To step into the Pacific Ocean and taste the salt, not by choice but it always happens.

Pacific Ocean

Or to hear the tales of the great whites that inhabit this part of the ocean, the sightings and stories. I didn’t go too far.

Pacific Ocean

We have the salt-free Missouri, though, full of catfish and walleye. And if you’ve seen some of the catfish that grow in there, you’d be a little scared of those, too.

South Dakota sunset

Still, how do I explain what’s in South Dakota, with all it’s inactivity or corner street cultural diversity?

No fresh oysters to seduce my palate,

oysters

or Pacific salt water to soften my skin,

Pacific Ocean

and no fancy cocktail hour on the farm.

Mercantlie

South Dakota… I think I’ve driven through there. It has the four presidents, right?

As I closed in on the end of my tropical vacation, the evidence of my good time rested in moth pockets, a sunburn and overstuffed suitcase.

My sister sent me off with a hug and a camera full of memories, heading back to reality and my humid home state.

Looking out the plane window, I could see I was getting closer by the sections of farmland growing larger as we descended into the southern Dakota.

So, why South Dakota? some may ask…

South Dakota country

husband

Some things just can’t be explained.

weeds in the field

I often walk my dogs along the trail that passes the old country cemetery, where both farm families and Hutterites of all ages sleep in eternity.

It is decently maintained, win-rowed when a farmer has the time, usually early July.

However, for now while most are in the field, this little old cemetery sits a bit neglected, surrounded by prairie grass and weeds.

My dogs run through the grass and around the headstones, in and out, round and round with no awareness whatsoever to what’s beneath their padded paws. I walk along, careful not to step on the buried, as though the skeletons six feet deep would be offended if I did.

I wonder what me and Country Man’s headstones would say, what people would think if they read the inscriptions? I know this sounds morbid, it probably is, but it gives me perspective and a connection to the past I think people of the world often crave. I do.

I like to think we’ll hold hands, as though death couldn’t stop us from touching while we sleep, no more than life could.

Most of the time I don’t know what to think about all of it, death, what happens after it.

For now I am just grateful to be among the living, to exist at all.

The confrontation of life’s briefness is both terrifying and magnificent, like each breath and heart pump is amazing and those you love you choose to love, so each opportunity to hug and kiss and be kind should be taken.

That much I know for sure.

This is what a walk along the weedy path and past a cemetery makes me think on.

The Good Old Days Now

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” – Andy Bernard, The Office

This spring has kept us busy between teaching at the Hutterite colony, planting corn, and one stretched-out-over-the-weekends fencing project.

At times it seems as though there are not enough hours in the day for him to get his work done, and too many hours for me to wonder when all our future plans will come together. For now we’re on the farm while he heads west to work on a different farm/ranch, and dreams include owning our operation and me working working along side. It will happen, but it’s the waiting that can challenge patience and trust.

It’s a lot scary to wait on something, not knowing if it will be all you had hoped when it finally materializes.

Times like this calls for perspective. I tend to lose that.

What do I know to be true right now?

  1. I love him
  2. He loves me
  3. I love the South Dakota country
  4. I love our goofy pups
  5. I am living a life to be envied
  6. I am healthy
  7. I can take photos that make my stubby fingers look dainty

While things are not the way we’d thought they’d be by this time in our life, we’re busy. He does what he loves every day. I get to sleep in and plan trips to see my family.


I get to kiss him every single day.

And for a short season, help him fence to good music, the sun on our face.

Happiness.