the free-spirited one

My grandmother calls her the free-spirited one.

Some days, I think she’s right.

South Dakota photography

The Free Spirit, the one who escaped small town, South Dakota and travels, drinks, lives.

South Dakota photography

Three states in under five years, they say, shaking their head in humored disbelief.

She’s a wild one, that girl. It’s gonna take a lot to plant them roots.

South Dakota photography

I think about the oceans, the restaurants, the coffee shops, the stores… so many things to do in under five minutes and I’ve got a list ten-miles long for the next trip to the Big City.

Can I remember a spur of the moment Friday night lights in my best blue jeans and prettiest jewelry, when we didn’t have to surrender to reality and now I meet my husband for a date to help build fence?

Is that option even mine?

South Dakota photography

I sit in the pickup pulling the post pounder, head resting out the window as I watch him work under this wide sky displaying our dreams in spectacular lighting.

So many things uncertain as we walk our path hand-in-hand…

South Dakota photography

And while we don’t dazzle most with our simple roots and tied-down lifestyle, my spirit soars higher underneath each splendid sky, soaring with joy and uncertainty so strong it nearly hurts.

South Dakota photography

My grandmother calls her the free-spirited one.

Some days, I think she’s right.

Most times, though, I think I’ve found what freedom really means.


Amateur Knitting and Broken Glass Jello

I have managed to learn a few things during this one year of staying home. One of these learned things is knitting. I am a knitter. Knit knit knitter.

Now, thanks to the help of my grandmotherly neighbor who taught me to knit, I am working on two projects. One, a sad, sad looking dish towel, and the other, thanks to my friend Ruth, a prayer shawl. This one is happy looking.

South Dakota knitting
A prayer shawl is a ministry outreach, one that Ruth and her crowd are a part of, for our elderly in the nursing homes. It’s purpose is to keep shoulders and hearts warm.

I am planning to make a few for my family for Christmas. I like to think anyone of all ages can appreciate a shawl during these South Dakota winters. Or Oregon winters, for my sister…

When I’m not knitting, I am making jello. We love jello in this home.

To complement tonight’s homemade pizza, I am making Broken Glass Jello, a recipe discovered from the Food Librarian’s website.

South Dakota jello
This is straight after the milk mixture was poured in, so once it’s set, it will be artistically appetizing.

South Dakota jello
I will tweet the finished look tonight.

Hope you have a great weekend. It is supposed to be in the 60’s today. 60’s! November!

South Dakota pup

My pup and me

Wander this world not alone

A pair of shoes can speak a lot about a woman. Like most of my female companions, I wear all sorts, as one does hats in the roles of life. My various styled shoes have taken me through my first steps, first dance, ballet lessons, sports, campus life, down the aisle, and now to a land far, far away. Each pair represented the place I was at in life, whether sashaying across the dance floor in a pink tutu or walking towards the man who would become my husband.

As a one time “city” (for South Dakota) girl, these old high-heeled shoes now wander a different path … and usually only graces the outdoor world once a week on Sunday, if the weather is accommodating. Which is rare, by the way.

Looking back, I am not sure these shoes expected to enter a world like this.

South Dakota gal's shoes

Into the earthy, tilled ground where I watched the fruits of our labor grow … and end with autumn.

South Dakota gal's garden
South Dakota gal's garden

To reach up for choice pick of sweet, crisp apples …

South Dakota gal's garden
Offering a boost to jump on bales, and then proceed to run across, that much closer to the sky …

South Dakota gal's shoes

My shoes have guided me through fields of cane to flush pheasants, only to pray these out-of-state hunters know how to hold their excitement long enough to run a shotgun …

South Dakota gal's a helper

I’ve went round and round this place, running from my pups as they chased my heel …

South Dakota gal

Shoes have taken me into sticky situations – and out, plenty of times.

South Dakota gal

I’ve driven a tractor to lighten the load for my husband …

South Dakota gal

And kissed him goodbye to this morning sky …

South Dakota gal

Yes, these shoes have taken me places. But for now, the shoes have been replaced with bare, calloused feet to dig beneath the dirt and flutter through the grass. And when I need something for this country life, I have a new pair to throw on.

South Dakota gal

I think I’ll be wearing these shoes for quite sometime – wherever this life takes us.

South Dakota gal

I first published this last October, and wanted to resubmit it again. It’s just so timely.

Thanks for reading (again, for some)!

Stitch-by-stitch, slowly but surely

Howdy hey neighbors. Hope your day finds you well and joyful. Before I forget, Coal wanted to express his thanks for all the kind words you had to say of him. He wishes he could accept it with great humility, but cannot deny he already knows how cute he is and that the scar on his neck is going to make him that much cooler among his feline friends and the strawberry patch creatures.

South Dakota kitty

It’s been a week of rain and house-quivering thunder on this South Dakota farm – much needed and appreciated. Last Friday I mowed like a mad woman, and while in search for a piece of wire to connect the bagger to the mower (I lost the key the first day), I nearly tripped over this passerby:

South Dakota turtle

He blended in so well that I overlooked him the first time, but my surprise turned into excitement as this ancient-looking reptile stared us (Tobi and I) down.

South Dakota turtle

The nails!

South Dakota turtle
A 22-inch 40+ year-old snapping turtle made my day.

South Dakota turtle

Looking for a pond. Can you help a brother out? (Yes)

I thought of Turtle today, driving north on the ripped up gravel roads toward my older neighbor’s home. Marlene is her name, and she’s teaching me how to knit. And like Turtle, learning this new skill has been slow going. But I am determined, because as Marlene pointed out, I need something to keep me busy during harvest and long winter months. Marlene is right.

Today marks my fourth lesson, and today my mind and fingers have clicked with understanding on how to fine motor the steps. I can cast on. I can knit. Is it pretty? That’s a big no. But I am doing it.

Plus, I have some pressure breathing down my neck, and she comes in the form of a nine-year old granddaughter next door. She’s a self-proclaimed “caster master”, and Marlene has made sure to remind me of this knitting whiz.

Learning something new is dang hard. For me, knitting is a generationally-minded skill, keeping me focused.

I cannot wait to knit cool things. Like a Christmas sweater for Country Man. He’ll love it!

What have you learned that has proven challenging? What drives you to press on? Have you been fortunate to have an older person teach you something that will last a lifetime?

Sunset fishin’

South Dakota after the storm

It’s been a long week on the farm.

The fields kept Country Man away all day, like the cattle did yesterday.

Mowing, bagging, gardening and sneezing kept me entertained. Once husband sped home, we intended to work on the garden shed; a plan to prepare it for painting. Paint it red.

It was a beautiful night. We sat down on the front steps, looked at one another, looked at the shed. Looked at one another, looked at the shed. Looked at one another again, and said…

Let’s go fishing!

South Dakota fishing

After loading up the fishing necessities, we hopped into his pickup (story of my life!), and headed down to a spot where the water is low and the fish are below (a very important aspect of fishing).

South Dakota fishing

A vacation at home.

We casted the lines and sat down in our chairs, breathing in the fresh country air.

South Dakota country man

The quick jerks of the line informed us a nibbling fish arrived.

I reeled in a three pound catfish and husband caught some nice looking walleye.

South Dakota country man and fishing


South Dakota fishing lines

You know what’s on the menu around here for a few days.

South Dakota fishing
Fish and Hutterite asparagus and spinach salad.

South Dakota sunset

After a few hours it was time to call it quits and fillet the fish.

South Dakota fishing

A home to welcome us back!

South Dakota night, after the storm

A few happy things about summertime: the fishing and the sunsets.

Country Wife’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band

I spend portions of my week catching up on blogs I follow and learning information from various sources – whichever is most imperative and crucial at the time (ha!). One writer/blogger I follow posted today about the type of people who have discovered her blog using often unrelated search terms. For example, most people are directed to my blog by typing, “the simple life of a country man’s wife.” Simple. Related. Google did its job. Swell! Other times, however, people find me using terms that cause me to raise my eyebrows in interest. Here are a few that did just that:

  • merry christmas dang it
  • red lipstick kisses on a man’s face
  • hunting in south dakota benefit of living in the country
  • signs that you’re a desperate housewife
  • grateful for my child shoveling snow

and my favorite:

  • do cowboys and farmers make good husbands?

To which I would answer, yes.

In rare cases, some lonely bloke finds me searching non G-rated terms; and because this is a G-rated blog, I’m not going to reprint them. But I assure you, they must have been sorely disappointed to land on this blog …

But if you’ve been following The Simple Life of a Country Man’s Wife for any length of time, you probably know how some people ended up on this blog using those terms. While it was I that shoveled the snow, and not my little slave child, I did write a post about it, causing someone to find their sweet little self here. Those red lipstick kisses, you ask? A post from many moons ago, sharing my new love and fascination for a lipstick’s power to change a girl’s spirit. A cow photo included, of course. And the desperate housewife one? There must have been some mistake!

I began this blog in hopes to form relationships/connections with people, from all over the world. I didn’t have a target audience in mind, but as long as people liked what they read and saw, then it was mission accomplished.

Mission successful, yes indeed. I have met some truly great people, and have received only positive, encouraging words of kindness. I so love that you keep coming back!

South Dakota Kitty
All of this leaves me wondering … As a blogger, what are some of the strangest terms that have led people to your blog? As a reader, what type of blog peaks your interest the most? For me, lots of good photos and heartfelt, solid writing keep me comin’ back for more.

A Kellogg’s Box and an Arrow … yesssssss.

Warning: Not responsible for any nightmares or anxiety attacks this post may cause.

Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

Let me just share a bit of this country wife’s life with you. And, I’d like to thank you in advance for even caring to learn about my little life out here! Pretty cool, I’d say.

You see, there are some things you learn to expect: the loud, fall season bawls of momma’s and calves after they’re weened and separated, the growling of old tractors bouncing up and down the drive, the shriek of owls and hawks in the treeline, and until lately, skunks in the man cave. That one there’s a post for next week.

Some things, however, will never cease to shock me. Like your truly humming her way into the cold, lonely basement covered wall-to-wall with European mounts, the Black Huntress in tow, envisioning what to make for supper after taking a warm shower. As I clomped down the stairs and took the corner toward the shower, something stopped me in my tracks … something green, tiny, and limbless. Can you guesssssssss?

South Dakota wife's life

It is I, Sssssnake!

Yes, a slithery little garter snake found warmth and retreat in my basement. I did an inner shriek, something I’ve learned to do because I come across these fellows from time-to-time outside, and I don’t want to be the girl who cries wolf for my father-in-law. I mean, you never know … a mangy, rabid skunk could be coming after me, and I may want some rescuing! Oh right, that’s next week.

For now, however, I gotta learn to toughen up. I come from a long line of snake-chickens … like running, arms flailing, screaming incoherently (Mom), saw-the-white-light scared of snakes. But that was outside. This snake is in my house.

After throwing a box over Mr. Snake, I called Country Man. “Guess what?” “What?” “Another snake in the basement.” “Hmm.” “This is, like, the third time in a year, you know.” “True.”  “Well! Does this mean I should be expecting more? Do they come in packs? Will they slip from the ceiling as I shower?!” “No, no, and no.” “So, you coming home to take care of it?” “Just put a box over it until I get home. It’s a garter, not a rattler.”

Fine. I walk back downstairs, Bowie still in one arm, the other holding up the towel around me. Snake was half way out of the box, assessing the dangers around him. Well this isn’t going to work, I thought. I look around at the totes of hunting gear, fishing boxes, sweet potatoes, and realize none of this will do. But in the corner, I spot an arrow. This arrow is flawed, and is being kept so Country Man can show Cabelas that it almost cost him a nice buck.

South Dakota arrow

I took this flawed arrow, and using the feathered end, tilted the box and brushed Snake inside. I then proceeded to carry him upstairs, toward the back deck.

This peaked Milo’s inner hunter dude, which led me to putting him up on the heater so he didn’t exert his awesome inner burly man on the poor little guy.

South Dakota Milo

I stayed a moment to watch Snake twirl around, and in return, I felt a little sorry for him. Naturally, I tried to cheer him up a bit. Now, don’t be afraid. It’s alright, nobody’s gonna hurt you. Aw, you’re kinda cute. Kinda.

So, was I surprised to see him in my basement? Yes. Would I be singing a different tune had I found his momma down there instead? YES.

South Dakota wife's life

But another part of me has realized I cannot always expect other people to come to my rescue. That’s just life. Maybe more so out in the country. If I allow myself to constantly be afraid, where’s the growth?

South Dakota snake

I know what kinda woman I want to be, and that kinda woman doesn’t run and scream from snakes. Skunks, yes. Snakes, no.

So I took a deep breath, set the box outside on the deck, and wiped my hands together in a satisfactory job well done. We’re going to be all right in life, aren’t we beautiful creatures of God? All but patting myself on the back, I marched off downstairs with a renewed sense of inner strength. Things are going to work out just fine, yes they are! …

South Dakota Kitty
Or, maybe not. I forgot about Kitty. This photo was taken after my shower, and she was feeling quite possessive over ‘her’ new friend. It didn’t end well for Snake.

So what was the real lesson behind all this? No clue. Maybe to just suck it up and stop trying to philosophize, because in my constant desire to understand everything, I simply won’t. Life doesn’t work that way.

South Dakota Kitty

She's a little mad about that skunk in her shed ...

But rest assure, this isn’t the last adventure I will face with Mr. Snake, or any other creature form for that matter.

This is life, in all its glory!

No shadow? Early spring? We’ll take it!

Well, that chubby little cheeker pulled through for us this year, didn’t he? I was afraid one of these local farm boys was going to make a visit to Punxsutawney and have a chat with the beloved Phil. Unlike the farmers and ranchers with cattle to feed and pipes to thaw, I sit comfortably in my warm home. Because if one thing is for certain, it has been teeth-shaking cold the past few days. So cold, in fact, that the big dogs have been sleeping in the entryway. This means it’s really cold over here, because they are as messy and stir crazy as they are Labrador.

Are you excited for an early spring this year? I know we are out here …

South Dakota Pup
It’s been bitter cold, with our famous South Dakota winds making it about -40 last night.

South Dakota Pup

It was so cold, in fact, that sometime in the middle of the night when all the covers fell off the bed, I dreamed I was cold. No joke. My frosty toes and cold nose woke me up, scrambling for blankets. Then I did a mental recap to recall if the big dogs were inside or not, and if I left any pups outside. It checked out. Phew! I’m a good momma.

South Dakota Pup

We miss the sun, can't you tell?

So after a night like that, it’s easy to say we’re hoping that little hog knows what he’s talking about … because an early spring would be mighty welcomed.

South Dakota Pup

It's a cold one out there folks ... well, so I've heard.

For sure Milo thinks so.

South Dakota Pup

Early spring, pleeasseeeee.

And this weather suspicious-minded gal (typical South Dakotan) isn’t yet convinced that a hairy hermit knows anything about anything.

I’ll believe it when I see it, you cute thing you.

South Dakota Country Wife

P.S. I shoveled that deck again. Here’s to hoping it’s the last time this year! (Just call me the Constant Optimist).

A Shrek IV Kitty

Kitty is huge now. Like Puss from Shrek IV, she doesn’t move unless food is involved, and has long left the gracefulness of sliding down trees. It’s more like a screeching thud. So when she hears the pups and I outside, she makes a “run” for it in case she might luck upon some puppy chow. Kitty would rather munchies be brought to her, of course, but she knows that ain’t happening.

South Dakota Kitty

Free food!? *Thud*

No such luck today, Kitty. Just some pups who want to lick your face off.

South Dakota Kitty

No food? I eat you?

Her funny look tells me she’s about to go into crazy-annoying mode, meowing and ramming into my legs. She’s clearly not starving, and no amount of “this is what kitties in third world countries look like” photos have convinced her that she’s doing quite well.

South Dakota Kitty

She's huge! About two of my pups combined.

The pups and I made it back into the house safely. No less than two minutes later, we heard a loud *boom* on our window. That was Kitty trying to hang from the screen outside. Sigh … even she’s not aware of her size anymore. And that can’t be good for the window …

It’s a good thing my pups have their own way of keeping in shape.

South Dakota pup

Bowie ... chillaxin on the couch

Stretching …

South Dakota pup

Yoga poses …

South Dakota pup

… and meditation, most likely. That Tobi, she’s a spiritual one.

South Dakota

Hope your weekend is off to a great start, and you’re seeing some sun and dissipating snow in your forecast.

And before I go, I want to continue a challenge from a blogger gal I follow. Her challenge is to those of you who follow this blog, but haven’t popped in to say “howdy” yet. So, it is officially de-lurker day (the day you are reading this). So please, with lots of sugar on top, say ‘hi’ and tell me a bit about yourself: why you follow this blog, what’s happening weather-wise, what color underwear you have on … anything! Just de-lurk yourself. It’s a lurker intervention.

And to those handful who do comment, keep ’em coming, friends. You make this gal’s South Dakota country life a little bit brighter.

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Bargain shopping country queen

I love to shop. Mostly, I love the art (yes, it is a form of art for those who cannot sing or paint) of bargain shopping. And online stores provide endless ways to save save save!

South Dakota tree

While we did quite a bit of in-town Christmas shopping, a portion of it was through the world wide web. Namely, Cabelas for Country Man. Where he shopped for me, I’m not sure. Fortunately, ever since I’ve known him, he’s done a supertastic job in the gift-giving department. Specifically things that sparkle, which in my case, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree when it comes to the love of all things sparkly.

Online shopping is what you gotta do when you live two hours from the nearest mall. I miss being able to walk through department stores, feel the fabric on my fingers, and even try something on. You know, to make sure it would look right on my sister.

On the other note, I don’t miss the craziness that occurs in the ‘big city’ during this time of the year. I heard there was no parking whatsoever at the mall on Saturday. That includes the far back rows. Husbands had to circle the lot until a spot became available. My husband is a kind soul, which means he’d be letting all the moms and kids take the next open spot. So, it’s a good thing we stayed home.

Shopping here included scrolling through websites and Google search pages, comparing the best deals on hunting stuff, work stuff and other stuff. It also included taking a break to step outside, adjusting my eyes to God’s natural lighting, focusing on something far away to save my computer-stressed eyes.

Like a calf in the cattle yard.

South Dakota calf

Or cattle in the pasture.

South Dakota cattle

Or puppies snoozing on their chair.

South Dakota gal's pups

Either way, my eyes can take a break because we are done with our Christmas shopping. Time to sit back and enjoy a hot toddie and figgy pudding.