Two Old Critters

Monday, the day after Sunday and usually it hits with a roar. get done with the Sunday evening service and pray I can get some sleep and manage the Monday out here without being too shot. Today was a good one, had a good sleep, was very thankful for the service last evening going well cause you never know. I had absolutely nothing prepared for it, was deader than a doornail all week, no inspiration what so ever. Walked up to the pulpit, praying for the Holy Ghost wind to blow through and it did. Preached the Alamo, how’s that for you? Believe it or not, it came out good. Today besides a ton of cattle work we were getting ready for the corn harvest. Everything is finally ready and I hope to get it in before winter hits. But one thing was on my mind today while working and no it wasn’t church or anything like that. It was my old friend Ug. She’s the oldest cow on the place by a longshot. Born in 95. She’s been the subject of allot of sermons, both here in the Northland and also in Honduras. She was the impossible!


I know I wrote about her before, and I have preached about her practically everywhere I preached. The calf in 95 that got sick, who’s mother lost her milk to boot, the calf went into a coma for a month, I fed her twice a day with a stomach tube, she lost all of her hair and was ugly and stunk from rot. Three times I drug her out of the warm pig nursery where I had her laying in straw, and also covered with it for warmth, to haul her to the brush and give up on her, but I’d drag her back into the barn and keep on trying the impossible. Then one night at a 2 AM calving check I opened the door to the pig nursery, turned on the light and a stark naked, ugly calf was standing there looking at me. I will never, ever forget that night. After that she never had a problem, except being so ugly.


I couldn’t sell her with the rest of the calves that fall, she was so ugly, so I kept her. She was runtier than anyone else and ugly yet to boot. So months later I figured being that she seems to be a permanent resident here I’d put her with the replacement heifers and see if she would get bred and have a calf. Well, she did, over and over and over right up to this year. In fact she has the record for amount of calves produced on this outfit that I don’t think will ever be beaten. The most worthless calf became the best cow we ever had, bar none. She broke every rule the big brains come up with as far as beef cattle go.


But today was different. We’ve been taking cows to the salesbarn, cull cows that aren’t producing good and now all the culls are gone. And Ug is alone in that pasture, although quite content. Late this afternoon I rode out to her and almost had tears welling up in my eyes. Me and Ug, oh we had some times for almost two decades. Probably the only cow I never cussed at over the years. Now she can barely walk she’s getting so old. Stiff legs, hump back, but alert. I truly understand that most people will not get this but at that moment I knew that me and Ug had shared a good portion of our lives together. All of her’s in fact. Its been a privilege really. A few years back I made a promise to never sell her or have her butchered, she earned the title to live out her years here and die with respect.


I truly don’t know how to explain it, me and Ug together out there for a while today. She taught me many a lesson, especially in the faith department. What the world see’s as worthless can become the greatest. I reckon I’m getting a little stiff legged too compared to 18 years ago and there we were, man and cow, all those memories as the world hurries on to its insanity. It was quiet out there and I just told Ug that it was a good ride we had and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I swear she understood. I guess if your not a cattleman you probably don’t know what I’m talking about but that’s OK. An aging cattleman and an old cow that shared so much together. My time is coming too, don’t know when but there ain’t no getting around it. Two veterans of this cow outfit, knowing time is running out. Living a life most can’t even imagine. But we did it! We beat the odds!


When I preach or teach I always stay away from the subject of animals going to heaven. Believe me, that’s the number one question in Children’s Church that I taught for five years. But this one time, just this one time, I’m gonna say it, I do believe I’ll see Ug in heaven. She’s special!

Published in: on November 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Moving Along

Moving Along

Its raining out this evening and I’m in the house satisfied. When spring finally hit so late the work has been getting done and I can safely say we are on schedule with the work around here. Its warmed up enough so I don’t have to worry about the calves having a hard time when they are born which makes it a whole lot easier for a fella like me! I’m just prasing the Lord even when the muscles are sore and I’m shot. It feels good to be out and about again after such a long and tough winter. This weekend will be the last time our family is together for a long time with our daughter heading to Asia on a multi month mission. Going to fire up the grill and have us a good time this weekend for a bit.

Published in: on May 8, 2013 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bull Fighting Sunday

Calving is picking up steam out here and I just wished it would be about twenty degrees warmer, cause it sure is a below normal year temp wise up here in the north country. There’s still a few snow drifts hanging tough as I write at the end of April and the pens have plenty of mud in em too. But you gotta do what you gotta do in this business or else get out. And being that I have no intention of getting out just yet I gotta just get out there and do the job. It seems like if something out of the ordinary is going to happen it’ll happen on a Sunday and yesterday was no exception to that. Got some of the cattle feeding done and was going to haul out a few loads of mud out of the main cow pen. They don’t live in that pen, just come in there every morning for some silage that I haul in there from the silage pit a ways away. While loading swill into the manure spreader, which can handle swill, I noticed my cur dawg looking intently in the direction behind me and I knew something was up for her to stand at attention like that. And there was.

The bulls, five of them, were fighting and wouldn’t you know it, they were tearing down our old post and plank fence at a fast rate. Now being a preacher on the side I was dreaming up to that moment about the Sunday evening service I was gonna preach over at the county seat, but that dreaming got cut short right quick! Typical bulls, have to wait till Sunday morning to destroy the place. Well, I got on my $12 cell phone and called in for help and was trying to decide what to do and all I could think of was to haul em across the county road to a large pen we have over there that wasn’t being used at the moment. Help came a while later and then the bull fighting began, human verses bulls but somehow the humans won, with the help of a skidsteer loader if I might add. One thing about bulls, every time you move em to a new pen, or even a cattle trailer for that matter, they just gotta bore down and fight each other. That old rusty cattle trailer was really bouncing with them in there, but we got em hauled over to the other pens after about two hours of muddy work. By those pens there was still snow drifts so we even had to put chains on the tires of the four wheel drive Chevy flatbed in order to haul them over to it. More work!

But today, Monday, all was peaceful out there and they were calmed down and in allot less mud than they were before. I was calmed down a whole lot too. Its sometimes strange after a day like Sunday to have to wash up later and go preach to folks when I person was so strung up with the wild day just hours before. But its reality. In fact last night I just talked my sermon just like if I was talking to someone over the corral fence. And it reminded me, that’s the way I should always do it. Simple, personal, and from the heart with no fake in it. That’s how Jesus did it, simple, and so folks could understand it.

Published in: on April 29, 2013 at 8:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Real Milk or Milk Replacer

Fall on the northern plains and northwoods usually means calves bellering, weaning time all around in every direction. Its short lived, after about three days the only sound you hear is a stubborn calf with a raspy voice trying to get some last bawls in, but there ain’t much enthusiasm in it any more. The cattleman is satisfied, the calves are learning the bunk, the waterers, bedding down nice where its dry. All is well. There’s some late calves, a little smaller than the front runners, but they’re full of zip and no problems with them either. Another year, calves are in the backrounding pens and there’s a thankful looking back at the season, from spring till now. A large group of calves, good looking and no bottle calves this year. During spring calving a person has priorities, one is to make sure calf and cow are alive and well after calving, doctor anything that needs doctoring, and up there in importance is to not end up with bottle calves.

A person will go the extra mile to make sure there isn’t any of those labor intensive little fellas around the place. You can feed a 100 cows in the time it takes to feed a bottle calf milk replacer twice a day. One of the most dangerous jobs around here is making sure this doesn’t happen. It involves locking the cow up in a headgate and trying to get the calf to suck if its a dumb calf. Or on the other hand, the cow is crazy and mean and hates the idea of being a mother till fall, same thing, lock her up and help the calf to get safely along side the cow, close enough to the cow so when the cow tries to kick it to death, the calf is pressed along side of would be mama and is fairly safe. Mean while the person trying to help all this along gotta watch for their lives when them kicks come at lightening speed and make sure they miss by a hair. This doesn’t happen all too often anymore on this ranch, the problem cows have pretty much gone down the road to grace fast food establishments and supermarket meat counters. Every once in a while for one reason or another, it all fails and a fella ends up with a bottle calf, either that or the calf dies of starvation.

At first its kind of fun, feeding the little rascal, knowing its life is saved. Soon you become the center of that calf’s life. It’ll be ready when you come there with the bottle of milk, it’ll follow you around anywhere. Kids like to help with this, for a couple of days, then there’s some important school work to do or some other excuse. And the thrill soon fades away leaving the busy cowman to tend to it twice a day, seven days a week. The calf eats and eats day after day, but soon falls behind the calves that are getting milk from there mammas. There’s already a loss, in money that is for what ever the reason the calf is living on milk replacer, the cow didn’t do her job, the expense of the milk replacer, not to mention labor, allot of labor for so little. Come fall the milk replacer calf has a poorer hair coat, is scrawny with very little meat compared to the pastured calves who were with their mammas. The calf can’t be sold in a large group because it doesn’t fit in at all. Most of the time, when selling, they’d get sold alone for allot less than what they would have brought if they’d a been normal.

Christians are like those calves. Some will grow up on mama’s milk, grow fast, have shiny coats, and be able to take right off growing fast after weaning. They had the real milk. The real milk is God’s Word. It builds strength and endurance, it has everything needed to grow healthy and fast. But some end up on formula milk, something that isn’t real milk, has additives and is different from the real thing. Formula milk, or milk replacer, is full of additives. Programs, works, reading Christian book, but not the Bible, following ministries because they’re popular and entertaining. But lacking the immunity building ingredients of the real milk, the Word. They’re still Blood bought Christians just like that milk replacer calf is still a calf. But they end up as spiritual runts, and have very little defense when the world’s problems hit em.

A person has a choice, get into the pure, true, sincere milk of the Word. Or a synthetic “formula” from a bag, that man has produced, instead of God.

Published in: on October 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm  Comments (8)  
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I Will Pass Over You!

Where the northern plains meet the northwoods a warm fall is hanging on for a day yet. Then its back to more normal temps in the lower sixties and fifties. I’m looking forward to that. Seems like when the fall gets warm, every kinda bug there is tries to have its last hurrah. A cool down takes care of that. Snakes are looking for some place to hole up for winter too, and there was a little one in the basement the other day that ended up under the heal of my boot. Such is life. Calves are weaned and have quieted down, getting used to the new way of living, without their mamas. They’re starting to eat more and more and now instead of running away when I come to feed, they’re waiting on the other side of the gate, waiting for me to open it so they can hit the bunks and chow down. Another three weeks or so life should settle down here, the corn will be harvested and stored in the bins. Many times that’s not a fall job here, because everything gets chopped into silage for the cows and calves, but this year it took less than half of the acreage to fill the huge pit and anything not chopped is turned to cash. Its nice when that happens.

“When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Exodus 12:13

Last evening while reading my Bible I came across this part of a verse and really hung up on it. All day its been speaking volumes to me. God saying when He sees the blood He’ll pass over me. By passing over you gotta remember, it ain’t like He’s ignoring you, nope, it means He will pass over you and you do not face His judgment. Which is a pretty good deal as far as I’m concerned cause there ain’t one person on this earth “good enough” for God. We’re all fallen, we’re all sinners. But those who believe Jesus, believe what He done for them, are washed in the blood, and judgment will pass over the believer.

Now, the Gospel ain’t really all that complicated when you get right down to it. God made it simple and even a fella like me can understand it. He made it so simple that little kids can usually figure it out without a problem while older folks are trying to come up with some rules to make em feel like the accomplished something on their own. But no one accomplishes anything remotely good in God’s eyes. That’s why we need the blood. Which works out fine with me because I fail and fail. I remember in religion, years ago, when I was in a religion totally based on work, our own works to get us to God, how I failed and how miserable I was. A fella just knew he was headin for hell, there was no doubt, and I never heard the Good News,  just heard church doctrine. Never heard about a loving God that don’t want any to perish, just heard about a god that gave total authority to the big wigs of the church to lord over us as we tried to accomplish the impossible.

But you know how God got in this house? And it took a long time to sink in, believe me. Way back in 1991 I was paging through a cattle magazine because that’s what I read, cattle and ranching, and there was this ad about this cowboy organization that believed Jesus and they’d send anyone a free newspaper. Back in them days there was no internet, at least not out here, so a person did it the old fashioned way, wrote a note requesting the free paper, included the name and address, and mailed it off in the mailbox. Weeks later I got the first issue, still have it 20 years later, and there was a story about this rancher that was going down and down, drinking hard and all, and how he found Jesus and how his life changed from that time on. I betcha I durn near memorized that article, read it over and over, wondering about such a thing like I’d never really heard of before. A God that loved you, and a way to Him. Oh Lord, that caught my attention. Month after month, year after year, the paper came and I read it from front to back over and over, this really was something I could understand. And I knew, way back then, a person headed for hell, that there was only to things that I wanted to accomplish in this life. One was to ranch and the other was to be a cowboy preacher. Many years later I surrendered to Jesus and haven’t looked back. I was washed in the Blood, finally! God’s judgment would pass over me! I was His!

But there is work for the Lord to do. Not to get me to heaven, the blood did that, but to work because of what He did. To spread the gospel to folks like me, cause I do understand folks like me. I see em all the time and I know how they feel. It was a cowboy ministry that had a huge part in leading me to the Lord over the years, and it is in a cowboy ministry that I’ll do my part, its just plain natural to preach the gospel where your at. If God ever wants me some place else, than so be it, but for now and as long as I can see there’s gonna be a cowboy ministry in the livestock country of central Minnesota. I have never been so at peace with anything in my life, although there are plenty of unknowns in it. I just am so durn thankful to folks like Kevin Weatherby of Save the Cowboy that allow me to hook up with such a good outfit. Now there’s a job to start, and its going to be a quite a ride. Riding by faith in Jesus!



Worry Ain’t Healthy

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Matthew 6:27
Amen and that’s what Jesus is asking us. I’d bet the herd that them worries probably take away quite a few days from a fella. Not only the lost days worrying, but run ya down earlier in life than it should’a been. You know, when you get right down to it, worrying is simple unbelief in Jesus. I don’t need that. Out on the land, running cattle, a person can get over burdened with worries if you let it take root. Besides raising a family and making sure everything flows smooth there, the cattle, the pastures, the crops, and hundreds of other things are on a fella’s mind every day. Battling the weather, which we sure can do in the northern plains is another thing to throw into the mix. And how worry can creep up on a person, basically its fear taking root. Its all relative though. Funny how there’s times when I start to worry and I do believe its God talking to me all of a sudden, telling me, “what are you worrying about?” Now this ain’t the normal message that tells a person to trust God in the face of everything and anything thrown at ya. Cause I don’t care who it is, there’s going to be a little worry or fear in many a situation. Its what you do despite it!

God has a way of telling every person in a way that person understands. Might be way different for me than for others, but God can figure anyone out and He’s always right. I remember going to the doctor’s office and the news wasn’t really the greatest on earth, in fact they were suspecting something real serious and I remember giving it to God in them times. I worried a bit, yes I did, but I did have a calmer reassurance that surprises me to this day. And God sure does use that to remind me in my day to day worries that pop up around here running cattle and land. That reminding voice in my heart will tell me, “remember in the doc’s office how you thought, I’ll never worry again about the day to day stuff if I can get out of this situation OK?” At that time I’da given anything for the day to day worries around here which in reality are absolutely nothing in comparison to what I was going through at the time.

God takes care of us in different ways, at our own levels and there ain’t a one size fits all solution coming from heaven the way I figure it. He is in control and all we have to do is rely on Him in simple faith. Church today is way to complicated in my humble opinion. Guess that’s why I love the simple cowboy way of doing church. Keep it simple, keep it in faith, believe Jesus and live for Him. And I ain’t going to worry my life away. Would rather talk about Jesus and what He did for a fella like me.

The Stone Was Rolled Away

Sometimes a fella has to put a song up cause its just plain good!

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Like Calves Let Out To Pasture

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” Malachi 4:2

The calves around here ain’t exactly what you’d call leaping for joy today, they just got weaned off their mamas and its a noisy one for sure on this place. The yearly ritual of weaning em off, get em going on some corn silage and second crop hay, back round em till late January or February and take em to the salebarn and get em sold. Hopefully the whole bunch gains some good weight by that time but don’t get fat. The buyers want a good frame that meat will grow on easy and fast. Those calves just have a shine on em in February and the buyers go wild bidding em up.

But looking back over the season I gotta admit, one of my favorite times of the year is about in May when the calves for the most part are just a few weeks old. They might be in the calving pasture yet which is a lot that’s seven acres of mostly well drained land, or they might’a just been put out on fresh, lush pasture with their mamas and enjoying every minute of it. Either way, many times on those really nice, calm, quiet spring evenings, just before the sun is going down for the day, they many times do what I call the “calf dance”. To me its probably on the top ten list of things that make life worth living. Now if you’ve never experience it you probably won’t get excited about reading about it, but for me its one of the most joyess things in creation!

By that time of the spring there’s quite a few calves on the ground, (that means born for those who ain’t living out here and don’t really understand the language). They’re little yet, but putting on some muscle fast, bones toning up and they are getting down right quick. Mama’s milk does wonders fast in those young calves. They’ve learned a bit about herd life by then, they follow along fairly good when the herd moves, but they also have friends, the calves around them. Come near sundown and those calves are prancing around, butting heads with other calves, sparring with each other and having fun. I don’t know what touches it off, but all of a sudden they will do what I call the “calf dance”. A group of them will all of a sudden take off in a run, all together, tails up in the air, hooves looking like they aren’t even touching the ground. They run fast, weaving in and out of the cow herd, then breaking free of the herd they just take off in the open land, all together like a flock of birds, making the same turns, running together so free spirited. The cows watch from the sidelines, probably chewing their cud, keeping one eye on their kids but letting them have the fun. Soon the sun will be going down, the calves get settled back with their mamas, the show is over for the day. I’ve watched from a distance, sometimes up close, right in amongst the herd. In the later part of calving the cows are so used to me I can be anywhere right among them and they don’t even get up. I can hear the calves breathing hard when the shoot past, feel the little hooves pounding the earth. There’s just something about it that brings a person closer to God, like no church could ever do. Life, newer life, celebrating life!

Its just a memory now, a memory until next spring starts the cycle over again. Those dancing calves are growed up allot bigger than they were back then. My cattleman’s handbook, (the Bible), says,  “And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” That’s a promise when we believe the Son, when we believe Jesus and what He did for each and every one of us on that old rugged cross.

The Stubborn Calf

It seems like a fella just got thrown right into fall around here, summer came to a screeching halt, got cool and rainy for a bit and now there’s a good run of dry sunny weather predicted for a week or more. So one adjusts. The lowland meadows couldn’t get the hay cut and baled off of them this summer because it was too wet. Now it carries the tractor fine so today I was down there cutting and tomorrow too. There’s the meadow hay to cut and bale, there’s firewood to make, (allot), there’s cattle to work, fall is busy on this outfit. There probably isn’t anytime of year I like better than right now with the fresh and cooler air and most of the summer work a memory. Looking at the cowherd, the calves are still with them a bit longer, I start thinking back to all the adventures and misadventures of the season and one thing comes to mind that taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.

This spring I was recovering from a rather painful operation and wrestling calves was out of the question so I was just praying for an uneventful calving season. Now our cows are some pretty good cow and the trouble makers have long since passed through the food chain. All was going pretty good considering the muddy season we had for calving. One Sunday after going to our little church in the morning I came home and was looking over some of the new cow/calf pairs and all looked good at first but a fella has some extra sense or something and a good looking pair just kept bothering me. I started to wonder if that calf sucked his mama yet and couldn’t quite be sure. Usually I can tell but I had some doubts with this one. I had help that afternoon so we walked the pair through the mud to our smaller loafing barn where I have a pen with a squeeze chute and headgate just for these occasions. Got em in there but didn’t lock mama up right away and I sat there watching the calf with its mama and after some time I had to make the decision to lock up mama and teach that stubborn calf to suck. He’d be right there, at the fountain of life, but would not open his mouth and take er in.  Locked mama up, and we cornered the calf, which by the way, was one loaded cannon! All the while I was praying that I wouldn’t rip myself open from the surgery which I was told would not be good news. First thing a fella does in this situation to get the calf thinking of milk is the old cowman trick, stick a finger or two into its mouth. Well, most of the time a light bulb lights up between their ears when a person does that, they start to suck one the fingers and then you just get em wrestled over to mama’s milk supply and bingo! But not this beautiful Angus calf. It just put that four wheel drive in reverse and he’d have no part of sucking at all. Plan “B”, milk mama a little bit, put milk in a bottle and shove the big rubber nipple into calf’s mouth as he was being held in place. Milk was pouring out the side of his mouth, but not one thing that resembled a sucking action. By this time I’m getting a little perturbed.  I knew this was the only time I’d have help for quite some days so then we went to plan “C”, which meant getting the stomach tuber out, mix up some milk and force some food into its stomach to buy a little time. I truly thought I was done for wrestling that 90 some pound calf so much, not to mention milking the Angus cow a short while before. Ain’t like milking ol’ bossy back on the dairy farms, no sir. These have kicks that could out pace lightening and then the cow will hold back her milk just to make things more interesting to boot. By the time we stomach tubed the calf I was soaking wet from sweat, shaking from over exertion having just spent weeks in the house doing nothing recovering from surgery. Allot of pain in my lower abdomen to worry me sick too. Got the calf fed that once and my help had to leave and I said maybe the calf would figure things out itself, which they many times do even in this situation. Kept the pair in the pen, hoping there’d be no more problems with other pairs and left them. I knew I couldn’t be wrestling any more and figured it was either the calf or me, so I decided me.

For the next week I checked on them all the time. The mother was a perfect mother, did everything right, been with the herd for years and never had a problem. The calf stuck with his mother, did everything right, except that is, to suck and get that life giving milk. The mama always was licking the calf, standing in the right positions, nudging the calf back to where the milk was like them real good mothers do. But that calf would have its nose right against the milk supply and wouldn’t take it. The days went by one after another, and i watched but didn’t have help around and the calf got skinnier and skinnier. When its mama got up, the calf would get up and they were the perfect pair, except that calf never took that free gift of life that was offered it day after day. On day nine the calf died, starved to death and I felt bad being helpless to really help. When something like this happens, when a calf dies, I never get used to it and always feel bad about it. This time more so because I was so helpless to wrestle life into it. The rest of the calving season went pretty good, there were some screw ups, but nothing like the calf that refused the milk.

A few weeks later I was thinking about it, about that time in spring and its like God spoke direct to my heart and said, “you were like that calf for years, and you’da ended up like him too, but near the last moments you grabbed onto the free gift of life.” I was stunned! It was so true, all those years Jesus was offering me the free gift of eternal life and I never took it. I was starving down, getting weaker and weaker, and not even realizing that life was right in front of my nose. Just like that calf I did allot of the right moves, I went to church, I followed along, but I never took that free gift of life till October 19, 2005. Life came into me from then on and I ain’t letting go. And let me tell you, from durn near starved down to growing by leaps and bounds. Yep, God musta spoke to me and showed me one incredible story, my story, the story of the stubborn calf.


Published in: on September 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Old Lew and the Pot Bellied Stove

It was cold out. In the north country that doesn’t mean freezing, it means maybe 60 degrees colder than that. The wind was howling outside and when the work is done you don’t linger around. Dark out by four thirty in the afternoon and a fella just heads for cover. Take off a good twenty pounds or more of jackets coveralls, boots, gloves, fur caps and wonder if any body parts froze up. The cows were hunkered up with plenty of hay in front of them at all times to stoke their fire in the gut. The night before I checked em and the thermometer said 47 below, those cows never even laid down, they got in a tight group and kept lifting their legs in order to keep some blood flowing and not freezing. I do remember those days in my younger years and there’s one special memory that keeps running through my head during weather like that. Its about a guy named Lew, an oldtimer that was born in 1900. A friend of mine and I miss him. He died in the year 2000, made er to a hundred and never went to an old folks home, just stayed out on his small ranch and had himself a few Herefords near the end. By the end he couldn’t drive a car any more so he drove around on his little Ford tractor when ever he wanted to go some where close by. I used to visit Lew, and my favorite times were those cold winter nights. I’d have to go out every hour or so and start the pickup so it would still turn over because of the cold, but a feller didn’t think anything of it. Those evenings around Lew’s old potbellied stove are some of my fondest memories.

Being born in 1900 a person was in a world not all too much different that the time since creation. Lew never seen a car till he was a teenager and a little later for the first airplane. He was from a large family and sometimes in those days that meant just taking off when you’re in your mid teen and make a go of it on your own. Lew and myself would sit pretty close to that blazing hot pot belly stove because that old time house wasn’t exactly weather tight and they had no insulation. He’d get that stove where it would turn red on the side, had a huge pile of hard maple limbs cut up outside the porch just for the evenings and later he’d put in a night block or two when it was time for him to get to bed under a thick feather tick. Sittin close to that stove a fella would almost start on fire on the side close to the stove and probably be freezing on the other side. Typical back then was the curled up wall paper in the close area around the stove, curled up from the intense heat in that corner of the kitchen.

When Lew struck out on his own as a young teenager he was in practically every state west of the Mississippi at one time or another working for cattle outfits or grain farms. And his stories held me spell bound. At that age he worked mostly in Arizona and western North Dakota, both not having been settled all that many years before. Most of the time when you signed on to an outfit the owners were the original settlers from a few decades before and seen the opening of the west. They knew open range, they knew how the land was when it was first settled. The stories were amazing and one thing about Lew, he didn’t stretch the truth. Personally my favorite stories were when he was working for years on different outfits on the hi-line, which is mostly Montana, but I always put northwestern North Dakota in that too. A new land that was opened up by the Great Northern railroad. Making it possible to ship out cattle by train and get supplies in to and from Minnesota. I know the area well and could just see what he’d be talking about in my mind.

Another thing that struck me years ago was Lew’s faith, something I didn’t even have at the time, but he planted some seeds in me faithwise and some memories as well. Lew was a simple man by all appearances, but held allot of knowledge inside of him. He’d know about me screwing up, but never ran me down or condemned me for anything. Always calm, always deliberate in what he’d say, I knew I was in the presence of a man with wisdom. He’d tell me about “wolfin” in the winter in the very early days on the hi-line. Large packs of wolves, hungry, and they were reeking havoc with the livestock back then. Earned extra money in winter doing that, both from the ranchers and the county bounties. He’d talk about how the packs would come circling as he’d be riding his horse, or be driving a wagon, always with rifle and pistols. And they’d use em.

Sitting here tonight I miss old Lew. Knew him for a few decades, went to his funeral and remember with a smile how he’d tell his stories. I know Lew is in heaven, without a doubt. He trusted Jesus in everything. There ain’t nothing new about cowboys trusting Jesus and I know that for a fact. They see His creation all around them every day. I think I might start looking arround for an old pot bellied stove to sit around come winter.

Published in: on September 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm  Comments (6)  
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