I received a package in the mail this week. I can’t wait to tell you about it. Seriously. What arrived is like the best thing since sliced bread. Especially for those of you with animals. That might ever mark in the house. Or on things that aren’t the lawn or the litter box.

But it’s too nice today in South Dakota (and a lot of other places it seems) to sit inside and write or work any longer. I’ve done it most of the day, working for others and I’m ready to get outside. I did want to share though, the following because it’s had me laughing all week.

We’ve got this awesome donkey, Tuko.



Tuko has been figuring a way out of the field we typically have him in, all week. None of the others in the herd have tried or found a way. He has. There is an abundance of water, shelter and food in this particular field. He’s preferred to sneak out and go hide in the barn. In the shade. Away from the heat.

When he’s rested up, he comes out and either finds me or hangs out close to the house and waits until I come out. He then follows me (or anyone else that might be here) around as long as I’ll let him. Like he’s one of the dogs.

Tuko 2

The Cowboy just laughs. “Leave him out, he doesn’t go anywhere,” he says to me. “As long as he has some water, he can eat the grass.”

I keep putting him back in. Because I don’t want him heading down the road or getting lost for days in the corn fields. Like say, our cattle might have done a week or so ago. Maybe.

While it’s been frustrating and we think we know where he’s escaping, it’s also been incredibly entertaining. And the dogs this week, I do believe, feel like they’ve gained a new bud.



The recent heatwave has brought along with it a heaviness in the air. This morning, it was almost palpable in Eastern South Dakota ..

Morning Fog

Morning Fog

While I know days like today create a lot of problems for; people with trouble breathing, travel .. oh, I don’t know, surveyors I’m guessing .. I love days like this (on occasion). There is so much beauty and almost a mystery in days like today. These are some of my favorite to visit places like our national parks. Or, just stay home.

Waiting on the School Bus

Waiting on the School Bus

Around the Water Cooler

The weather here, like much of the country right now, is hot. Our hottest temps so far, I do believe, this summer. Mid 90’s all week with no sign of rain in the forecast. The local pool is closed until next year with kids back in school. Although .. many this week are on early release due to the fact there is no air conditioning in their classrooms. A pool would be nice.

Here on the acreage ..

Water cooler

Lengthy Morning Meeting Around the Water Cooler ..

.. the herd seems to be weathering it all just fine. Other than, rightfully so, they’re thirsty. One indication of just how thirsty – these 5 seldom if ever make room for each other at the trough. I had to grab this shot this morning because this is a rare sight.

Drink up.

Sunflower Fields

Love that as I go to look up information on sunflower fields in South Dakota, one of the first hits is:

Are there sunflower fields in South Dakota? – Yahoo! Answers answers.yahoo.com › … › May 2, 2012 – Tons and tons of sunflowers!! Plus, despite what a lot of people think South Dakota is a very beautiful state!

Thanks, Steve in NC. I’m certain the Department of Tourism and the people of this great state are sincerely thrilled with that rave review. A review that again, turns up nearly first in any google search on sunflowers in South Dakota. It’s lovely. … Really.


I failed to mention yesterday in my fawning over the mini-sunflower like “weeds” as the Cowboy likes to call them, lining just about every roadway and field right now .. the actual sunflower fields that cover this great state.

Presho Sunflower Field

We used to marvel at them just about every August as we would drive from our home in Wisconsin to visit family/friends in Montana. But with such a long drive ahead of us, rarely would we ever stop to see them close-up.

Now that I live here …… there is time.

Presho Sunflowers cu

On the drive home from Wall yesterday, we had to stop and fill up the truck. Luckily for us, the tank hit E right before we came upon Presho, SD. An area mid-state where the sunflowers bloom for just about as far as the eye can see..

I’ve been wondering .. where do all of the seeds go? Who or what uses them? What is the main demand for this crop? (Hence the google search I started this with) There are some fascinating areas of research being done on just what this plant may be capable of. For now however, this article from a few years back about sums it up .. currently seventy percent of all sunflowers grown in South Dakota are marketed to the birdseed industry.

Lone sunflower

Some other perhaps interesting facts about sunflowers via the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center:

  • Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are a native North American plant, believed to have originated around 3,000 B.C. in what is now the states of Arizona and New Mexico.
  • Sunflowers are primarily grown in North Dakota and South Dakota, followed by Texas, Minnesota and Kansas.
  • Sunflowers are considered oilseeds. Sunflowers are used for their cooking oil, meal and confectionary products.
  • Within the oil varieties, oil is extracted. Meal, a byproduct of this process, is used primarily as an ingredient in livestock feed rations.
  • Demand for sunflower oil has increased as food processors search for sources of transfat-free vegetable oil. In 2006, Frito-Lay, the country’s largest producer of snack foods, switched entirely to sunflower oil for its potato chips.
  • Food-grade sunflowers are made up of the highest quality seeds, including the largest and cleanest seeds. Ingredient sunflowers are seeds that are still food-grade quality, but they do not possess the characteristics to be in the food-grade category. The sunflower seeds that cannot be used for ingredients are used for birdseed. Usually these are smaller, lower quality seeds.
  • Studies have shown that sunflower oil is healthier than most other food oils on the market.

What I want to know, is how do so many seeds make it to market if they’re so sought after by birds for dinner? Wouldn’t they just raid the fields? How does that work?

After talking about it on the drive home this weekend .. the Cowboy decided when he went in to pay for gas he’d also grab himself a pack of seeds. All the talk about them if nothing else, was making him hungry.

Sunflower seeds

Alongside The Road ..

“A weed is but an unloved flower.” ― Ella Wheeler Wilcox


“They’re just weeds,” the Cowboy replied on our drive back from Wall again this weekend. I was asking him if he’s ever paid much attention to the flowers lining almost every roadway in South Dakota this time of year.

Small Roadside Flower

I’ve noticed these beautiful mini-sunflower like blooms the past couple of years in my time back and forth between South Dakota and Wisconsin. But now living here, I’ve been able to enjoy the full season of weeds. Wildflowers. Sunflowers. Whatever you care to call them.

Millions fill the medians of major highways in this state, line thousands of miles of gravel roads and seem to sneak in just about everywhere else in-between. Almost every state boasts something seasonal like this.

Roadside FlowersIt amazes me though, how many drive by wherever they may live, not often noticing. The weeds. Is it because they’re just there, every year .. and we grow accustomed to them? The colors. Their proliferation. Or, is it that far too often, we are too wrapped up in the business of our day-to-day to notice?

Enjoy the weeds while we have them. Their passing means if nothing else, our summer days are numbered.

Plot Twist

Famous and not-so-famous quotes speak to us all in different ways and it seems they are everywhere anymore. Social media has us all sharing great insights, thoughts on emotions, responses to situations you might find yourself in, whatever. They inspire. They relate. They bring things into context. You can find a quote for just about anything and feel it somehow relevant to your exact life. You share. And, voila. You have a legion of friends and followers giving you the thumbs up because they appreciate it as well, most often not fully realizing what’s behind you posting it, but offering support anyway. I post quotes on occasion for myself. I post them often in my social media work for others. They are a great resource. That being said ..

I was looking last night for the author of the following quote, as I’ve seen it posted recently and I’ve been mulling over the incredible irony of the situation in which I know it was used:

There are some people who always seem angry, and continuously look for conflict. Walk away; the battle they are fighting isn’t with you. – Unknown

In searching for the attribution, I happened to come across another quote. While I don’t know about any of you, I always appreciate figuring out how a negative can be turned into .. well, anything but a negative. Whenever and wherever possible. And now is a good time for that in certain areas of our life. The Cowboy and I laughed so hard at this, it has overnight become one of our favorite new quotes and mantras. We thought it worth a share.


I love this guy’s page, he’s hysterical and at the very least, inspirational if you need a little bit of humor or help looking at the bright side of life or any given situation. Worth a follow. http://tinyurl.com/kvbbut4 


“You ever seen one of them in person before?” asked the Cowboy. “They’re huge. I was driving a ranch cart kind of deal alongside the road one time when we were down in Oklahoma, we had a slew about a half mile down the road from our house and I was going to neighbors or something. And as I’m going along, I thought there was a rock or something at first in the road, then I see this thing jump like 5 feet in the air right beside the cart.. I stopped and said, “Holy shit, that’s a bullfrog.” He was just sitting there croaking or whatever they do http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M02_dnl9zCA and looking at me and I thought, this guy isn’t afraid of me either so I got out of the cart and walked right up to it .. and then it jumped into the ditch. It. Was. Huge.”

He went on to add, “I saw a tarantula too when we lived there ..”


We were over at the neighbors tonight to grab some sweet corn when a friends truck pulled up. The couple quickly stepped out of the truck holding a bucket that was duct taped shut. Quite a bit of duct tape, actually, had been used to seal the lid.

“There are two of them in there. Be careful or they’ll jump right out on you.” We all gathered around ..

Bullfrogs. The couple had just returned from a trip to a place where, apparently bullfrogs are prolific and they were bringing two of them back for the neighbor boys. The couple laughed, letting them know they had named the frogs already.

Bill and .. well, Bill and something else I can’t remember.



Bill’s name sticks with me because he pretty much was the center of attention .. and not just ours. The cat’s as well. And, Bill did make a run for it at one point. Heck, what frog wouldn’t.

Bullfrog Standoff

While one might think Bill would be safer in captivity with the cat around, perhaps the cat is one the one better off with Bill having a wall between them. From what I heard tonight and from what little information I skimmed over in even trying to be sure bullfrog is one word versus two, Bill could probably eat that cat for dinner.

What I Love About Sunday

We had wanted to go to church this morning .. but the Cowboy needed to get on the road before we would have been able to return from town. He was leaving to get to a rally for a man he’s grown rather fond of, a man quite honestly we now consider a friend, who is entering officially today the race for U.S Senate.

We stayed home instead, sat down to coffee and breakfast together and logged onto last week’s service from my home church in Madison, Wisconsin. It was a poignant message for us ..

While I still feel incredibly connected to my home church of Blackhawk, a church where upwards of five thousand people attend each Sunday, where it could feel easy to get lost but I’m not sure anyone does, where there is this incredible team of pastors that I miss terribly because their message each week is somehow spot on and where the music just moves you .. finding a new home church here in South Dakota has been heartwarming. Our Sundays, when we are home, have become a mix of attending a nearby contemporary Christian church .. and this wonderful small church in Flandreau that reminds me so much of the church I grew up in back home.

I miss Blackhawk.

But there is just something about a small town church .. and Sundays here on our little acreage, that I love having dearly again in my life.

What I Love About Sunday

What I Love About Sunday

What I Love About Sunday – Craig Morgan

Raymond’s in his Sunday best,

He’s usually up to his chest in oil an’ grease.
There’s the Martin’s walkin’ in,
With that mean little freckle-faced kid,
Who broke a window last week.
Sweet Miss Betty likes to sing off key in the pew behind me.

That’s what I love about Sunday:
Sing along as the choir sways;
Every verse of Amazin’ Grace,
An’ then we shake the Preacher’s hand.
Go home, into your blue jeans;
Have some chicken an’ some baked beans.
Pick a back yard football team,
Not do much of anything:
That’s what I love about Sunday.

I stroll to the end of the drive,
Pick up the Sunday Times, grab my coffee cup.
It looks like Sally an’ Ron, finally tied the knot,
Well, it’s about time.
It’s 35 cents off a ground round,
Baby, cut that coupon out!

That’s what I love about Sunday:
Cat-napping on the porch swing;
You curled up next to me,
The smell of jasmine wakes us up.
Take a walk down a back road,
Tackle box and a cane pole;
Carve our names in that white oak,
steal a kiss as the sun fades,
That’s what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.

Ooh, new believers gettin’ baptized,
Momma’s hands raised up high,
Havin’ a Hallelujah good time
A smile on everybody’s face.
That’s what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.

That’s what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.

A Night of Nothing, Almost.

I talked with a girlfriend about this earlier today .. about slowing down. Getting caught up again. With work. With life. With getting enough exercise and sleep. Perhaps a haircut and a professionally done color for the first time in, well .. let’s just say far too long.

Summer is supposed to be a time of rest, relaxation, of naps in the shade, long afternoons fishing at the river, of camping or lazy days at the beach or the pool with the kids.


Or, are we kidding ourselves. Does that place in life still exist or is there just this bizarre fantasy of what we think summer is supposed to be that we try to live up but that doesn’t exist anymore? It seems just about everyone I know has been on the go so much, trying to enjoy summer or life, they’re exhausted.

And relieved school is once again about to start.

cartoon image of dash

We got back the other night, late .. from the Cowboy’s grandmothers funeral. It seemed that night, to be the culmination of many months on the road. Back and forth to Wisconsin, to Wall, to events, to visit family and friends. All wonderful things.

But tonight is one of the first sincere down nights the Cowboy and I have had in far too long. And there is this very grounding feeling in knowing with the start of the school year again, that means for the most part, we will be home.

He booked us both a massage. Something he has only ever done once for himself. Which tells me something about how much he needs a night to regroup as well…

It feels amazing, to slow down. Even if only for a few minutes .. some friends I haven’t seen in probably 10 years just called and said they are passing through in an hour and are hoping to catch up.

Back into the car we go ..



The view from my in-laws house to the west each night is truly amazing.

Sunset from Randy and DarlasThere is little to get in the way of soaking up an entire sky of sunset. A much needed grounding for us this evening ..

As we gathered up the kids after a long day, a long week, family coming to town for the Cowboy’s grandmother’s funeral and an unfortunate situation we all had the opportunity to discuss before heading for home, the above scene was a reminder of how small some things are .. and that the God given big picture is almost always, incredibly beautiful.