Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Ranch Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!! I am so thankful for the abundance from God's hand--family, friends, a great job and the ability to work. Enjoy your holiday and all its traditions!

(This article was originally published in 1983 in Arizona Highways.)

Nine times out of 10 Thanksgivings in northern Arizona will come nosing ahead of a storm like an old lead cow going to water.

A solid front of gray will move across the high plains driven by a northwest wind whipping and slashing at the drags. It will be a full-blown storm front, shivering with snow and sleet, a storm that does what it sets out to do - puts an end to autumn. Every year is a gamble to see how long the cattle can put on weight before that first storm hits and the feed loses its strength. Fifty years ago, northern Arizona ranchers rounded up cattle in October and sold them around the middle of November. Some still do.

When fall roundup is over and the cattle are shipped, there's more work to be done. Holes in the fences and watergaps are fixed, the shoes are jerked off the horses. Mother cows go off to their favorite canyons and cedar breaks to wait out the winter. The saddle horses, turned out on the open range, will have to make their own living until they're needed again unless they decide to come in for a handout. Then, if a person listens, the coyotes will tell him a storm is on the way. A strain of urgency, a high-pitched ululation breaks with dawn. Thanksgiving Day is near. In the old days a cowboy often let Thanksgiving get by him, as the work didn't stop for holidays. Even faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had little time for celebration. On Thursday, Nov. 29, 1894, Lucy Hannah White Flake wrote in her journal: "This is thanksgiving day [sic]. The wind is blowing. There was no school this afternoon so we washed. The men folks are all working on the reservoy."

Later on, when the country developed and roads improved, ranch neighbors often came together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving dinner on an Arizona ranch is likely to have scents and seasonings never dreamt of by the Pilgrims, but cattle people have just as much to be thankful for, maybe more. A ranch family is thankful if they all made it through branding and fall roundup and lived to tell about it. They are thankful for the rain that filled their dirt tanks and made winter feed. They are thankful for the calves and steer yearlings that paid the bills. They are thankful, too, for friends and neighbors who helped with the work. Most of all, they thank God for partnering with them another year.

Women raised on ranches are likely to serve recipes they inherited from mothers and grandmothers. With every bite of cornbread stuffing, carrot pudding, homemade noodles or mincemeat pie, memories ebb and flow - back to the smell of cedar wood firing up a cookstove on a frosty morning. Doing chores before school. Bacon, coffee, sourdough biscuits. The whang of a windmill pumping water into a steel storage tank. The ring of spurs and clomp of boots on a wooden porch. Cold mornings and fresh horses.

Memories waft from the kitchen. The summer garden greens up again with each bite of bottled peas or green beans. The orchard comes to life in peach preserves spread thick on homemade yeast rolls. It may be slim pickings part of the year, but at Thanksgiving there's plenty for all. Somehow, the ones who made it possible are always there at Thanksgiving time.

And if a winter storm is biting at the heels of dark clouds, listen. You can almost hear the pounding of a herd of range cattle and the far off cries of men bringing in the roundup. Coming home. Coming home.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Close to the land

I am on a continual quest to find quotes that accurately paint a picture of the way of life that cowboy's live. I was reading Range magazine this weekend and stumbled upon some great quotes describing just this. I hope that in sharing them, you may be reminded about the way of life that is slowly being lost as farms and ranches are encroached upon by urbanites.

"Those outside of rural America need to see what is in this book. They'll be astounded to find that those who are close to the land have a startling sense of where they belong in the universe. They love their lives, accept the inherent struggles, and are surprisingly at peace for those who confront so many daily challenges. Perhaps it is because they know what it is to grow things, have worked to understand and to accept the forces of nature."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On election day

The following excerpt was taken from Beth Moore's blog from Living Proof Ministries. I think it nicely summarizes what our attitudes should be/can be during today's election and what is to come.


A few things I'm so thankful for on this election day, regardless of the outcome:

*We live in a democracy where we have the right to a vote and a voice. We have the God-given responsibility to use both wisely and in the way that best reflects what God conveys through Scripture.

*God "works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will" and "according to the plan." Ephesians 1:11

*Not only does God work out everything in conformity with His will, He has promised to work out everything for the GOOD of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

*God sets up kings and deposes them and gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21

*We, the beautifully diverse family of God, are never - not at any time - powerless. Nor are we ever victims of a system. Believing prayer takes us through doors we'll never be invited to enter and into judges chambers we'll never grace. Take a look back at Genesis 18 once again with astonishment over the dialogue between God and His servant and friend, Abraham. Rejoice that God is ever mindful of a faithful remnant. The Judge of the Earth will always do right.

*Even if persecution should await believers in Christ or harrowing circumstances hound us, God will use hardship to bring unity and purity to a people who need it desperately. The best of circumstances do not always produce the best in the Bride of Christ.

*The living God is firmly established upon His Throne and there at His holy feet we can always find grace and mercy in our time of need.

*No matter what happens today, we are GOD'S elect. He has elected us to show His heart and to walk in His ways in the culture that surrounds us. We are called to walk in the challenging balance of grace and truth.

May we be filled with Christ's Spirit today and our mouths given to praise and to believing, receiving prayer. God IS faithful and He has us firmly in His hand. We will not fear. We will not doubt. We will not hate.

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders." Deuteronomy 33:12