Saw two coyotes head over the rimrock this morning, unhurried, curious, yet wise enough to leave the territory.

Dally must be locked up the past few mornings, or she follows us, eager to learn and I am unable to watch her carefully around the hay trailer, yearlings, and soon-to-be momma cows.  She must learn to remain at home as well, and I hope that some good comes of kennel training.

I have been leaving either Elsa or Lucas home with her…they are put out, but I actually can “top off” these dogs when I have them one on one.

Cows are much like people.  Some are content with the first flake of hay that comes their way, and stand and patiently munch away.  Others follow for a while, nudging each proffered flake until they settle on one.  Some cows share larger flakes, others are pushy and demand single ownership.  Other cows continue to follow the hay trailer ever seeking something better…greener, softer, grassier, alfalfa-ier, weedless, thistle-less, moister, drier…  Some are never content until forced to become that way.  Their choices all exhausted, they return to formerly visited piles, and force less lucky cows off of their final choice.  Some take bites of one pile, and amble to the next, and the next, and often bucking their way to another flake, enjoy it all.  Are they not like people???

Elsa minds tremendously better when a long line is attached… is she not like people???  If I knew someone could give me an immediate swift jerk when I do wrong, I would rarely risk any unruly behavior either!

When cows have crisp white snow blankets on their backs, often you can tell how little they have moved overnight because the blankets don’t have those “earthquake cracks” created by movement.  But they rarely shake themselves as horses and dogs do…why?

The squeaking of snow increases as the temperature decreases.  Anyone ready for spring yet?

The zillion stars overhead tempt me much more in winter…the lights are brighter, the skies clearer… and I look… and head inside to warm up!

I glimpse my buddy in my rearview mirror.. he keeps an eye on me, guarding, watching, listening, and smelling for the Dangerous Unknown.  His job is serious and he can’t wait until he can brush his big head against my hand, waiting for a reassuring touch that says “all is well”.  He’s a Good Dog.

A Different Calling

Today Lucas and I finally got a chance to be something else besides stockdog and owner.  We became a Therapy Dog Team at Ten Sleep School.  I have worked towards this day for over a year.  We began when Lucas was a puppy and not yet old enough to be registered as a Therapy Dog.  We were practicing with full understanding and cooperation of Ten Sleep School, teachers, parents, and children.  Unfortunately, someone had to bring a lawyer into the mix, and we were banned from school until we became fully registered.  We then had to wait for Lucas to turn one year old.  We had to pass the Canine Good Citizen test.  Lucas had to be proven disease free with all the tests and costs of those tests.  We had to have 3 letters of recommendation written for us.  We finally had to join Therapy Dogs, Inc. of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  And today, yes, today! we entered the school, Lucas wearing his blue vest, and visited children!  We are listening to children read out loud.  Lucas lies quietly, the kids pet him, their blood pressure and stress levels drop, and soon, the words are flowing out to Lucas’ unjudgmental ears.  We will go every Tuesday.  Every Tuesday we’ll have a different calling… a chance to help some children learn to enjoy reading.

For an Interesting and Enjoyable View

For those of you interested in coyotes, those whispers of grey, my friend has an amazing blogspot.  Please visit, you will be amazed.

Whispers of Grey

They appeared quickly through the dry trees…running grey whispers going flat against the dingy white snow.  One shouldered into another and sent him rolling…but he quickly regained his feet and the whispers continued on.  They were fast.  Low and stretched out, the ground they covered passed quickly.  There were four.  One is seen frequently, two is not unusual…but four together…I wondered at what instigated the occasion.  Celebrating a kill?  Sharing in the spoils?  Chance?  Padded feet on hard snow couldn’t be heard but the movement had caught the attention of my dogs.  Instantly, two canines began to chase four canines.  Worlds apart, and yet so similar.  The greys retreated in haste, and my two red tinted canines were in a retreat themselves…one dictated by my yelled commands.  I was greatful for the lack of contact.  The odds were not in my dogs’ favor.  Their fighting instinct unproven except in play.  Though thoroughly willing to guard against invaders, I had quickly called them back to safety.  Their job may be to protect, but so is mine.  Letting them put themselves in that precarious position would not be allowed.  The whispers returned to the trees and I thought the short story over.  But they returned.  Whispers became echoes.  They again ran across the field accompanied this time by my dogs’ frantic barking.  My dogs minded me, and stayed on the hay trailer, but couldn’t help themselves from alerting the world that intruders were about.  Deja vu.  The whispers returned to the trees, this time in a relaxed manner, bounding across the snow.  What was going on?  I had no chance to contemplate it further, when two of the four appeared again.  Half-heartedly they crossed the snow and this time achieved the other side of the field and sagebrush covered camoflage.  I calmed my dogs.  I returned to my tractor and sighed.  I thought of those four whispers of grey in the morning light…and wondered…

Sundog Morning

The sundog hung above the cedar topped hill.  We were feeding our replacement heifers when I noticed it, a glaring bite of rainbow lonely in its attitude. As my tractor lurched and thudded over frozen chunks of manure, I reached for my camera.  Pausing the tractor’s progress, with my husband’s questioning look, I opened the door of my tractor and aimed.  The reasssuring beep of the camera was followed by a brief glimpse of the photograph I had just snapped.  Unfortunately, like many full sized rainbows, sundogs are hard to capture, often because of the bright radiance that surrounds them.  My sky was almost flat white, my colorful sundog had run away from digital capture!  Proceeding through the routine of feeding cattle and horses, I began to wonder… why is it a sundog?  Returning later in the morning to the house, I reached for my trusty computer to search “sundog”.  I could find the cause, I could find references in literature, I could find lyrics containing the words, I could find a band and a computer program and many other references to “sundog”, but nowhere was there an explanation of why it is called a sundog.  Aha.  I have it.  The next topic for my next children’s book.  My first book (not published, except on my computer!) was written for my children and it is called Red Dirt in my Soul.  A child’s view of his great-grandfather settling this ranch, I hope to create a version for next year and our centennial of ranching celebration.  The next book is a story of 3 Indian sisters who dance their lives away and run off to continue their dancing, but run so far they turn into the northern lights.  Another idea is to have just photographs capturing an ever increasing detailed view from satellite to home.  But now I have “Sundog”… thanks to a frosty morning, feeding cows, and trusty dogs to inspire me!