Nothing Gold Can Stay

I was clicking through WordPress this morning on my way to post something for a client, when I came across Hoof Beats and Foot Prints most recent blog post. At the top were words from Robert Frost that will forever take me back in time.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

When I was just a kid, there was a pretty core group of us that hung out. And for the most part, it was a group of boys. I was never much of one to play with dolls, worry about getting dirty, I never cared to paint my nails, go to the mall, watch tv or gossip about what may or may not be going on with any of our other friends. In no way do I mean to stereotype here or be critical of others activities. At all. But it seemed when I had the opportunity to get together with friends that were girls, these were many of the options. I wasn’t interested. Neither was my best friend, Amy who lived just a few doors up the street.

I wanted to run through the woods, build forts, listen to heavy metal, play football, compete, prove to them I could be just as much one of the guys, at that age, as any of them. Which, in hindsight, I’m wondering if it didn’t drive my parents crazy. And Amy, hers. We have laughed a lot about it since.

Anyway, our group would get together often and watch movies. And in trying to hang tough with the guys, I watched more horror movies than I’ve collectively seen the rest of my entire adult life, my first porn flick, Porky’s repeatedly, countless few films and when those got old we’d throw in, The Outsiders. The film, and what a great film that was, would rile us up in that small town we grew up in and we’d run around like somehow we had the same angst happening in our own community. I had the lines nearly memorized. But nothing has stayed with me from that movie more than the poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay.

fall leaves

I love this poem for so many reasons. But mostly because, every time I see or hear it, it takes me back. It reminds me of a much simpler time in my life and so many friends I’ve lost touch with but that will always hold an incredibly sweet place in my heart and soul. Friends who embraced me at one of the most awkward and challenging stages in my life when I was often made to feel like an outsider, because I didn’t fit the typical little girl mold. Of fall. Of the leaves turning. Of the home I used to live in and the big woods out back – that are full of memories – but that I now only get to drive by and wonder what sort of life the family that lives there now, has. Of just how much has changed since. How quickly the seasons of life pass us by ..

South Dakota Sunset

When you’ve got places to be, you’re running behind because you were just somewhere else you had to be and somewhere in-between here and there you’re hoping to get caught up on what you haven’t been paying attention to – things like email, an actual conversation with your spouse, messages and calls that need returning because, well because it’s how you get things done and it’s what others expect – how often do you simply lift your eyes to the world around you and soak it in?

It can be tough, taking the time each day to consciously just ‘stop’. Stop and soak up the scenery, or the people around you and the places you whiz by. But I challenge you (I say ‘you’ loosely here. I have only a vague idea of a few who might read this. My hope is at the very least, my kids will someday read back over my words and know this was something I felt important for not only my own life, but theirs as well) to slow down and try to notice something new in your every day. In your drive to work or back home. In the people around your office. Or even in observing your own child. So much in that snapshot of our daily lives, no matter how routine, is constantly changing. And it’s pretty awesome, inspiring and humbling when you stop to look at any of it.


In-between a series of meetings, volleyball games, dropping off the gun my daughter had borrowed from the neighbors to go pheasant hunting last weekend, trying to find a few minutes to change into something warmer, grab a bite to eat and make it on time to rehearsal for the musical in town .. I didn’t have really any time to spare as I sped down a gravel road near our home this evening. But I saw the scene above, put my foot on the brake, let it register that I did actually see a scene that awesome, turned the car around and stepped out of the drivers seat for a few moments to soak it all in.

I’ve tried to make this a daily practice most of my adult life, but it’s never been this effortless. Life here everyday in so many ways, reminds me of how fortunate I am. It reminds me again to stop. To breathe and soak it all in. I hope you have this too.

I am so in love with a state (far more than just the state) I never thought I would know .. no more than the speedy drive through on my way to wherever I needed to be next, anyway.

I’m not sure who it is ..

I’ve been wondering when those that farm the fields around us will be harvesting. The season is well underway in eastern South Dakota, yet our acreage remains surrounded by row after row of golden corn stalks.

“There are some trucks and a van on our road, I’m not sure who it is,” my daughter just said to me, having gone out for a breath of fresh air. She’s been home sick much of the day. I’m not paying any attention to the traffic, instead I’m looking her over, wondering if she may truly be getting back on her feet a bit.

Harvest Semi

A semi, combine, grain cart and some other vehicles literally just pulled up moments ago and it won’t be long the landscape around us will look very different. And, ready for winter.

While the Cowboy and I run together most of the time, he went without me this morning. I’m glad I noticed how beautiful it was. I snuck out onto the front porch as he was heading down the driveway. Barefoot, my feet seemed to burn on what was one of our first frosts of the season. But, I stood there until he turned onto the road and snapped this shot ..

Morning run


#RanchersRelief and the Atlas Blizzard Rancher Relief Fund.


We were on our way home from Rapid City and Wall last Sunday morning .. and had pulled off quick to put gas in the van and grab the kids a quick bite to eat.

We both heard someone say the Cowboy’s name, approaching us from behind.

It was an old friend from the rodeo circuit and the two spent a few minutes catching up. At some point though, in-between talking about families, jobs, roping and where each had been the past few years, the topic of the loss of livestock West River came up.

“To some extent, these ranchers had warning this was coming. I feel terrible about the loss of life but they had time to get them in. It shouldn’t have been this bad,” this gentleman said.

I was a bit taken back.

There are a lot of opinions being given right now about what could or could not have been done. Regardless of who or what may be at fault for so many deaths, if anyone, the fact exists there is still incredible, unbelievable loss. And that is where we are at. I can’t imagine anyone expected what was coming, especially this early in the year and especially because things never seem quite as bad as they’re forecast for.

Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of http://www.columbian.

After working many years in television news, I’ve seen it, I’ve taken the calls from people upset that you’re breaking into their favorite television show (not saying this happened in this situation at all. Just saying, it happens) to tell them about a pending violent storm that often barely ever touches their town with even a few raindrops. For most, the hype that goes into approaching storms rarely ever matches how bad a storm ever is. People get numb to it.

But the forecasters do know, Mother Nature is unpredictable. And when the conditions are just right, sometimes those storms will be what is predicted. And they can only pray you pay attention.

I believe this was one of those storms. And no matter what could have been done before the storm, there is this incredible, devastating aftermath.

I don’t know that I’ll continue to write about this routinely. We don’t live West River. We’re not in the thick of it. I can’t as eloquently put into words what is happening as more storms hit the area, as ranchers wake each day and try to piece their herd, their lives and livelihoods back together. We however know some of these families and communities well. And we’d like to do whatever we can to support them.

Here are just a few other writers/blogs I have come across that seem to be great resources for anyone wanting to stay in touch, know what is happening and do what you can to help. Use the hashtag. Spread the word. Donate. Pray. And if you’re so inclined to read any of the following, grab a kleenex:

A Poem: The Storm Atlas 

Down, Set, Life

Curt Pate Stockmanship

It Takes A Ranch

Tremendous Loss

“My buddy lost his best head horse,” the Cowboy says to me the other night, just shaking his head.

We’ve been praying for and thinking about all those out west left to work through the aftermath of one of South Dakota’s worst winter storms, I believe, ever. At least for this time of year.

I’ve got the national news on in the background as I sit down to get to work this morning .. and the local cut in just aired. The images coming out of Western South Dakota now in regard to the loss of livestock are just tragic .. and tough to see.

And it appears quite tough for South Dakota ranchers to know what’s ahead .. and how they’ll recover.


Courtesy – Mitchell Republic

From KBZK:

“One rather morbid story was that they could simply find their cattle by following the trail of dead carcasses,” Williams said.

An SDSU Extension Beef Specialist, Ken Olson said, “It’s devastating. I’ve had some tearful conversations. They’re having a hard time. Some of them know that it’s going to put them out of business. It’s very hard.”

Olson says the impacts of the storm are magnified because ranchers had already suffered through a drought that reduced the size of their herds and their bottom line.

But the damage caused by this storm goes far beyond economics. It hurts these ranch families on a deeply personal level.

“It’s personal. Yup, it’s personal,” Williams said.

Williams and other ranchers feel their losses one by one as they pick up the scattered carcasses. Some will be processed for byproducts, others buried or burned.

Williams said, “It’s a hard chore. And it’s only beginning.”

Officials are telling ranchers to carefully document their losses for possible financial assistance.But with most federal offices closed in the government shutdown, it’s unclear what help might come, and when.


My heart, along with so many others – I know ..  goes out to the families facing so much loss. My heart and head right now however can’t stop imagining what those cattle, horses and other livestock lost must have been going through. The Cowboy just gives me the look at times, you know the one that many of us get, because we have such soft hearts for any animal. I slept outside one night earlier this fall to watch over one of our own steers who was sick and we were worried was too weak to perhaps even make it through the night. While he does everything he can always to take good care of our herd, he wasn’t sure why I slept outside or what I could further do about it from there versus the comfort of our own bed 50 feet away. I simply wanted to be there for him if he did pass or if there was some way I could help because personally, I would never want to go through it alone.

That being said, I can’t imagine the stress and fright these animals were going through this past weekend, wandering aimlessly through the storms and essentially getting stuck and freezing to death. The images, based off of what we’ve heard from friends and family out there, just keep playing through my head. Death at some point for us all is inevitable but we now know how we die makes an incredible difference in the entire experience, for those passing and for the rest of us as family. And these cattle in many ways, are part of these families lives and livelihoods.

“Pray for the Ranchers ..”

“Please pray for the ranchers West River,” a member of our congregation said this morning when the pastor asked if there were any concerns folks wanted to share.

“I spoke with my son-in-law earlier this morning,” he went on to say. “He said a lot of folks out there have no idea where their cattle are. They’re lost. Or they’re dead. The snow was just too much… it’s going to be pretty tough going for them. A lot of loss.”


The Cowboy looked at me and just shook his head. We’ve been in touch pretty much every day with family out there getting an update. They’ve been snowed in at a Hospice Facility with the Cowboy’s grandmother.

“I never even thought about the cows,” he said. “That’s terrible. They don’t usually get as much as snow as we do here. It’s way more wide open. A blizzard like this can get pretty tough on livestock.”

We were talking with that same gentleman after church .. he said it sounded terrible West River right now for many. Especially for those with livestock. His family had told him, from what they could tell in many places, the cattle simply pushed through any fencing trying to find their way somewhere through the storms. But, the snow was so deep many either got stuck, lost or from what some were seeing, the cattle had essentially flipped over and remained where they had fallen.

Please pray for the ranchers .. they were the first of many mentioned this morning, that could use thoughts and prayers. And I know that was just within our one small congregation. Wishing the world a night of peace, of understanding, of silver linings somehow through any tragedies or challenges and renewed hope for better days ahead .. for warmer days ahead to melt the insane amount of snow dumped on part of our state and for as many cows as possible, to find their way back home.

South Dakota Storms

“I cross country skied to work this morning,” I just heard a man report on the mid-day news.

Snow is absolutely dumping on the western part of the state right now. The DOT is encouraging people to stay home with “a lot more wind and a lot more snow” slated to come. The interstate is closed. People are without power. And it comes at a time we had hoped to leave for Rapid City to spend time with family, a critical time we will never get back if we don’t get there soon.

Severe weather is scheduled for the eastern half of the state meanwhile, most likely not snow but possibly tornadoes.

It’s been a few days now of intermittent storms after months of below average precipitation. Some of it is much needed and welcomed. But too much rain or snow or wind will also create problems for farmers out in the fields right now 24/7 trying to get the harvest in.

Clouds 1

As the front was moving in the other night .. I was driving home from a few meetings in Sioux Falls. The skies were beautiful. While I was already running behind in order to get home and meet our daughter .. I had to stop and grab a couple shots. Short of the border on these, they are unedited.

Clouds 2

Harvest Underway

“My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher but everyday, three times a day, you need a farmer.”

– Brenda Schoepp

Harvest 1

The dogs are barking again. They’re not used to this much traffic past our house each day..

Grain Cart

The gravel roads of South Dakota are rumbling day and night right now under the heavy weight of combines, tractors, grain carts and semis.. whatever is takes to get the harvest done.

Harvest Semis

It’s beautiful. It’s dusty and right now it’s constant. After looking at and being surrounded by what seems to be 9 -10 foot high corn the past couple months, harvest will drastically change the view out our front door when all is said and done.

Wishing those out in the fields, a safe and wonderful harvest. This has been a dry summer but it appears a good one.


You don’t harvest hay, I’ve learned.

Raking Hay

Raking Hay

You put up hay.

Many of you already know this. But I didn’t. Not until recently. In fact, I had never really thought about it, because I’ve lived within city/small town limits in one way or another until this year.

Until I had horses, hay wasn’t a part of my everyday life. I’ve never had to know necessarily the process of how it got from the field to our alley. It’s kind of like the whole issue of people eating but having no idea where, other than the store, their food comes from. You need hay? Go to the hay store, right? Just kidding. I wasn’t that naive. But the entire process of how it was cut, raked and ‘put up’, I didn’t need to know.


It’s almost too late in the year here in South Dakota to be haying.  There is a heavy dew on the ground each morning anymore and hay needs to be put up at a certain moisture level. If it’s too wet or the moisture level is too high, it gets moldy when baled. Worse yet, it can actually start on fire.

(So can the underbelly of a hot vehicle out in a dry field when trying to fix broken down equipment. We may or may not know from experience this past week.)

Regardless, the Cowboy, his brother and dad wanted one last cutting before winter this year.

Raking Hay2

It had been quite awhile since they had cut their own hay. Typically, the Cowboy would trade it out for horseshoeing and the trade ended up being pretty fair. That was, until last year when the price of a round bale went from around $60 to $180. The drought across a good stretch of the country had much of the hay grown in the northern states going south, driving prices up.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the process: The grass grows. Whatever kind you’ve got or want; Alfalfa. Prairie Grass. Timothy. Bermuda grass. You wait until it grows tall, it gets cut, lays on the ground and you wait for it to dry/dehydrate. The sun and wind are responsible essentially for taking out all the moisture. Once it’s in the right state, the grass/hay gets raked into windrows (another new term to me) with a piece of machinery called a ‘rake’.


Hay Rake. Photo – Courtesy

The hay then needs to sit again anywhere from one to five days without any rain getting on it. If it’s dry enough, it gets baled into whatever your preference might be. Round bales, little square bales, big square bales, haystacks .. “but not many people do those anymore,” the Cowboy says to me.

Alfalfa, he adds, you want to leave a little bit moisture content so the leaves stay on it. He tells me, that’s where all the nutrients come from.

“The problem is, this time of year it doesn’t get warm enough to dehydrate it so that’s where we’re running into problems right now. You might have to rake it two or three times to get it dry enough. If it gets moldy, they’ll eat it if they have to, but otherwise the horses get sick.”

His dad just called to check on the status of where things are at .. the Cowboy tells him he hopes it’s dry enough. But he’s off to rake again one more time today in an effort to get the hay put up before the first snowflakes of the season. Forecast for this weekend…