Monday, August 22, 2011

That Hat

About 5 years ago my hubby and I got a rare out of town get away when my brother and sis in law so graciously watched our kids, who were then under 1, and 3 years old.  On the trip my man bought me that hat. I loved that hat the second i tried it on.

I was still a Portland Police Officer when i got that hat. Still living on a small farm. That hat has seen some big changes, seen some dreams come true.

I have worked many long hours in that hat,  most with my best friend and our kids.

I have a lot of memories in that hat. Won a big cattle trial in 2008 in that hat.

In 2009 i won an award in that hat. An award that i am the most proud of any in my trialing.

I have spilled some blood, and some tears in that hat.  Been soaked to the skin in that hat. Cried in that hat, and laughed a LOT in that hat.

Lots of good in that hat. Lots of dirt too. That hat has seen life begin and life end. That hat is an old friend. That hat could tell some storeis...some i don't want anybody to hear.
That is hat is looking pretty beat up these day,  it has earned every stain and scuff and dent.  My friends say i need a new hat for the big trials this fall. They say " what if you make the final day are you going to wear THAT HAT?!!" 

I love that hat, but i broke down and bought a new hat for the trials next month. It is a nice hat, the same style of hat as my old hat. It looks nice, but it doesnt have any "whiskers" yet. In police work when you work the street long enough, and have seen and done some things,you earn some whiskers.

Some day the new hat will have some whiskers, but it has to earn them the hard way, just like that hat did.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wiley Wapati

I went out to irrigate this am and i noticed as i went by my sheep that they were all standing up, and my LGD was barking. My sheep are usually bedded down that time of the morning, and the dog seem upset. I thought maybe a coyote was out, so i started to look as i approached the end of the pasture.

Many morning i see bald eagles, hawks, and quail. Last week i was irrigating and saw a big buck deer in velvet, he walked out across the field in front of me, and he was in no hurry. We have lots of deer, but i do enjoy looking for the nice bucks.  The dogs some times see the coyotoes before i do, and i have to watch or they will chase both the deer and coyotes.

  At the end of our pasture land is some dry land that is at the base of tukey hill. It was no deer or yote that the LGD saw. This is what i saw runing around in the dry land. A wiley wapati( as my master elk hunter and old hunting guide dad would say) AKA an Elk! A 4 point point bull elk, to be exact. 

 We do not see elk down here in the farm land. You can find elk if you go 60 miles in most any direction as the crow flies, but to see them in the farm land is very rare.  The elk must have come through an open gate, as he was frantic, and could not figure out how to jump over the fence.  It was 645am, but i knew i HAD to call somebody and tell them.

Now most farmers and ranchers are awake at 645am, but this time of year many were up baling hay at 2am. I called four of my neighbors anyway :) I then drove the ATV back to the house as fast as could so i could get my camera. I just knew if i did not have a picture then some of these old boys would think maybe i did not know an elk when i saw one. I grew up in Montana and have shot elk, but they might not know that :)

I had Mint come up on the atv as soon as i saw the elk. When i went back with the camera the elk was still there pacing the fence line. As i got off the atv to get a better picture the elk finally went over the fence, and headed up and over turkey hill. It was a real treat seeing this majestic beast, and he was only about 50 yards away.

You know that you live in a rural area/small town when an hour after you make a few calls the road in front of your house looking up the hill looks like this.  The road has been full of trucks and farm equpiment driving by VERYYYYYYYYYYYYYY slowly all day :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


 Growing up both Marty and I were raised in families where hard work was expected, praised and rewarded. Our parents worked hard their whole lives, and by doing so, showed their children by example. Our grandparents did the same.

Both of  my grandmothers had college degrees. My grandmother Williams/Murrry( full blood Irish) was born in the late 1800's, and my grandmother Mockler/Heney( full blood German) was not much younger. For a women to earn a college degree in those days required hard work, and more than a little determination.

My grandfather Mockler went to law school when he was in his early 40s and running a cattle ranch, while raising 4 children. My grandpa Williams did not have an education past grade school, as he had to quit to work and help his family. Grandpa Williams did have his own construction company, and built many of the finest houses in Sheridan WY, including the modest home my mother grew up in.

My mother always taught me that everything we have is a gift from God. We had no choosing/say in what family we were born into, what part of the world we live in, or our mental or physical gifts.  We do get to choose how we use those gifts.

I am very grateful to God for the gift of my loving, hard working family, and the fact that my brain and body work well. Our children have to be the very best blessing that we have.

One of the reasons we moved to this area is that we wanted our children to grow up in a rural/agrarian community. We wanted our children to grow up working hard, in a community where people worked hard. In our life experience we have both seen that work ethic and discipline can take you anywhere you want to go in life. Brains and opportunity are nice too, but hard work is the key.

Two weeks ago we my friend Geri Byrne and i put on a small sheepdog trial.  Geri and are i both very busy this summer and have had to miss many of the trials we like to attend. We wanted to keep our dogs in shape for the up coming national sheepdog finals, so we had a small trial.  Mike Hubbard generously donated his judging skills for 2 days, and Bill Swan and Justin Rodriguez did the set out, with help from Amy Coapman and Angie Untisz.  I donated the sheep, and we had the trial at Geri's ranch. The trial was a fund raiser for the 2012 sheepdog finals that will be in the Klamath basin.

The weather was hot at 90 deg plus, and the set out pens were dusty and dirty. My 7 year old son James wanted to help set sheep and so did a neighbor and friend, 8 year old Colten Wright. Coletn's parents are ranchers and i know they feel the same way we do about work. The kids were both there before the trial started. I was going to have James come later in the day, but he cried when he thought he might miss ANY of the trial. Colten's mom told me he had been asking her every day for weeks to make sure he could still work at the trial.

The boys worked all day both days. They had a great time and both asked when the next trial would be so they could work that one too. We managed to raise around $2,000 for the finals, pretty good for small local trial that was a lot of fun.

Working the pens, photo by Gloria Atwater

At the end of the day these boys had earned the respect and praise of all the handlers. These young men seem to have been soaking up the work ethic just fine. I was very proud of them both.

Tired young sheep wranglers, photo by Gloria Atwater