My First Jack Bauer Moment

Since my sister’s birthday is coming up this weekend AND Jack Bauer will soon be returning to television what better post to kick off my relaunch than this one? I’ve taken a little time off but I hope to be back up and running in no time. Enjoy!!!BekandIsleeping

As children we were always finding ways to get into mischief. It’s really all my parents fault. They were the ones who encouraged my siblings and I to be overly creative farm kids. Summer vacation is when my creative genius was at its finest.

Long summer days with 4 children home all day left my mother in a state of exhaustion. As we got older “nap time” slowly morphed into “be quiet for one hour while mom regains her sanity”. During this time the kids had two options: one, we could play outside for one hour. Or two, play upstairs quietly and don’t bother mom who was napping on the couch. Basically, you could either go outside and stay there or be upstairs and stay there but you couldn’t have it both ways.

The boys would retreat to do whatever boys do outside. While my sister Bekah and I opted to stay upstairs and play quietly. This arrangement worked well for a couple of days. But by that third day I grew bored. About 20 minutes into the quiet time I decided that I wanted to go and get the baby kitties from the barn and bring them into the house. However, there was an obstacle. Mom was napping downstairs right next to the front door. There was no entering or exiting the house through the only door. However, this would not stop me and my mission. My creative juices started flowering. There had to be a way, right? In all honesty, my sister probably tried to talk me out of my devious plans, but my plan required team work. I successfully convinced her that she wanted to play with the baby kittens too. And so my accomplice was born and I could execute my fool proof plan.

For whatever reason, my dad had taken the screen off of one of the upstairs windows on the 2nd floor of our 3 story home. I went into the linen closet and found an old mismatched sheet that my mom wouldn’t notice was missing. I slowly and quietly opened the window and hung the sheet out of it. Then I tied one end of the sheet to the couch leg; I asked my sister to hold on to the sheet for extra support and I lowered myself down. It worked! Bek threw one of our school backpacks down to me and I made my way down to the barn. I loaded the baby kittens into the back pack and climbed back up the sheet. This was our daily occurrence for several days. Mom and Dad would never find out. We were like secret operatives on a top secret mission and no one would ever know our secret.

That is, until the day Bek asked if she could be the one that was being lowered down. I opened the window and threw the sheet out just like every other day. However, my sister was small and my pride was as big as the state of Minnesota. I decided that I could just hold the sheet and not tie off the end to the couch.

Carefully, my sister made her way out the window. She began to climb lower and lower on the sheet. Then all of the sudden she looked up at me and her facial expression turned to panic…and then her hands let go. The shock of her letting go caused my hands released the sheet and both my sister and the sheet went falling to their doom.


All I could do was watch as my sister fell flat onto her back. To my relief her head was inches from the cement opening of the cistern and she landed on the grass. To my detriment, my dad was working in the yard that day and saw everything. Well, he didn’t see everything. He saw my sister climbing out of a window, and me dropping a sheet. Let’s just say my dad was none too pleased with me that day, and yes Mom did wake up from her nap. And yes, I was punished for dropping my sister out of a second story window, but really, she let go… It doesn’t matter no one will ever believe me.

Happy Birthday!!! It’s a miracle you survived this long….

A Cattle Barn Love Story

There were many years when my brothers would be around to help my sister and me with the cows at the fair. However, in the later years, my brothers would go off to start practicing for college football season in early August so we were on our own. Sure, we could get the help of the 4-H boys in the barn if we really wanted. The other boys were always eager to help damsels in distress. Not to mention, they were just good, homegrown, country boys who were raised right and knew when to help a lady out. My sister and I would capitalize on our feminine wiles during fair week.

We were both pretty good at getting beef burgers from the beef stand or milkshakes from the dairy booth, without paying a penny for them. But, if it were a competition, I would have to give first prize to my dear little sister. Nobody could do it up like she did. She could bat her eyes and then a milkshake from the dairy farmer’s booth would just appear. A little wink and a smile from dear little Rebekah and BOOM a beef burger from the cattlemen’s beef stand would be in her hand. A small girlish giggle and seconds later I see one of the boys leading her heifer out to the water trough. A sad puppy dog face complete with a protruding lip and WHAM one of the boys has volunteered to “fit” her heifer for her the night before the show. It was miraculous to watch folks. She’s a talented lady.

Bernie as a calf… Nice fanny pack Bek!

There were other times when the assistance of the boys was a life or death situation. After all, we were dealing with large animals. One year my sister decided to show a cow/calf at the fair. She chose to bring Bernie. Bek had shown Bernie as a feeder calf a few years before and she was the sweetest little calf. It was no wonder that my sister felt a special bond with her. Then she brought her back to the fair again as a breeding heifer, and well why not bring her again with her calf? However, as Bernie got older she got meaner and meaner. Bernie was no longer that dear sweet little calf that followed my sister around like a puppy. She was a red 1,000+ pound mean machine. She was strong as an ox and knew how to throw her weight around.

At this point in time when you brought a cow/calf as a 4-H project you wouldn’t have to halter break either of them. However, if we had to, we could halter break her to show her at the state fair. Bernie had a halter on before so she should be used to it. We learned otherwise quickly. We thought we would just put a halter on her to transport her to the county fair. When we put a halter on Bernie she would buck her head up and down like a rodeo bull until we took it off. Like I said, she was a mean old b—–. So we would just put Bernie and her calf in a pen together and locked the gate behind them. They were free to roam freely in their little pen.

One night, Bek and I stayed at the fair a little longer than my parents. They had gone home after a long shift at the Cottonwood Cattlemen’s beef booth selling hamburgers and left my sister and I at the fair. Before they left Dad said, “Be sure those cattle are watered and fed before you come home.”

My sister and I made our way to the cattle barn. We led our breeding heifers out to water and my sister filled Bernie’s water bucket through the gate, if my tiny sister had stepped foot in that pen Bernie would have swallowed her whole, spit her out and then trampled the pieces. We were all set to go when Bernie decided it would be a great idea to not only step in her water bucket but tip it over and trample it. We knew we couldn’t leave her with no water so like the brave sister I am, I said, “I’ll go in and put the bucket back where it belongs.” My sister replied, “No don’t go in there. Joe (a 4-H boy) is sitting right outside the barn. I’ll go see if he can help us.” Looking back, I know that my sister was wise beyond her years. Yes, her idea would have been the better choice, but because I have too much pride, I replied, “Oh it will be fine. We don’t need boys to do EVERYTHING for us. You stand in that corner outside the fence and feed her some hay. I’ll sneak in the opposite corner by the gate and fix the water bucket. I’ll be in and out fast. She won’t even know I was in there.” The plan seemed to be a good idea. For the first half a second, it actually worked! My sister agreed and did her best to distract the old cow for as long as she could.

I swiftly opened the old yellow gate and slipped inside like the ginja ninja I am and then shut the gate behind me to ensure that the calf wouldn’t escape. Then it happened. As I wrestled with the water bucket trying to stabilize it against the gate, Bernie made her move. My back was turned to her and I was bent over wrestling with the bucket, trying to get it to stand on its own after the brutal trampling. She quietly yet quickly turned her body around, I heard my sister say “Joanna…” But I almost had the bucket back into place so I ignored her. “Joanna…” she said a little louder this time. Finally, I got the bucket untangled and put back into place. Oozing with pride that my plan worked I stood up and SLAM! Bernie had turned around and positioned herself behind me. She hooked her nose low under my bum and whipped her head straight up. She had me pinned up against the fence, my feet dangling off the ground beneath me. My face and body were pressed up against the gate. She knocked the wind straight out of my lungs so I couldn’t make a sound. She held me there, pressing harder and harder into my lower back with her long face. “JOANNA!” My sister screamed as she ran past me and headed towards the front doors of the barn screaming for help. Joe had already heard my sister’s screams and rushed to the pen. He flung the gate open and I could feel Bernie’s body shift slightly from side to side as Joe threw his whole body into her shoulder like a line backer trying to get her to release me from my pinned up prison. Finally, he was able to shift her off balance and I came tumbling down onto my bottom in the middle of the cow pen. Heaving, trying to catch my breath I realized I was sitting in the middle of an angry cow’s pen. I crawled as fast as I could out of the gate and Joe ran out shutting the gate behind us both.

As I lay there on the cold dirt floor of the barn, clinging to my life, coughing still trying to catch the last and final breath of my life, I looked around to find that I was alone. The bright sun light from the evening sunset showed through the large open barn doors, burning my pupils as I squinted and tried to make out the picture… there they were, side by side walking away from me as if nothing happened. I could see two silhouettes walking into the sunset, gazing into each other’s eyes. Of course, she was only 10 and he was 18 so the love story only began that day. (HAHA just kidding Joe I know you aren’t that much older than her) They were married on May 27th, 2006 and now have two beautiful boys.

Ok so, MAYBE the story is a little dramatic. But you know what, it’s MY story told from MY perspective. This story is a true story with only some SLIGHT exaggerations. I guess there’s something irresistible about a guy who comes to… your sister’s rescue? But who am I to judge? Jesus clearly knew what he was doing that day. He let me live and He sprouted an epic cattle barn love story.

The Case of the Rolling Bull

I found this little gem from my college years. It was written sometime before May 2005.

Our families cows breaking out of their “fenced in roaming area” is nothing new. I remember such experiences as a child when death felt near. It is those times when your heart beats fast and panic sets in, then your mind and body come together in that short instance that saves your life.

My family had just gotten home from vacation. We notice many footprints on our lawn. These were not any ordinary footprints but they certainly were familiar to my family. They were the kind of footprints that we all dreaded to see. They were cow footprints. My whole family was so tired and did not want to deal with the cows wondering all over our lawn. Dad took it upon himself and said that he would go out and see what’s going on while the rest of us unloaded from the trip. We were all laughing and reminiscing about the trip when we all turned to see my dad running towards us. It turns out that my neighbor’s cows had gotten into the very same pen with our cows and we would have to separate them. This is a HUGE job. My sister, mom, dad and I went and put our clothes on and got ready to go.

When I had finished getting changed I went down the hill to where the cows were. Naturally, the two bulls had found each other. I made my sister round up the herd while I stayed up by the house. My life all of the sudden became slow motion. The two bulls were coming towards me in a not so orderly way. Rolling, rolling towards me. I looked around for somewhere to hide, but unfortunately this was the open plain of the Midwest. There were no trees or anything to hide from two fighting, 2,000 Pd bulls. I screamed and looked at my sister. To my shock she was laughing hysterically at me. I did not think that this near death experience was very humorous at all.

I looked back at the bulls. The neighbor’s bull was running towards me looking for protection because our bull was winning the fight. This only worsened my situation. Finally, I did what I had to do; the only thing there was to do. I ran. I out ran them. After all I was only 140 pounds and they weighed only about 1,860 more.

Well, that’s what I remember. During the rest of the day I had two more near death experiences. If you would like to know “the rest of the story” just ask. It is quite amusing.

Freckles on the Pasture

I found this little gem from my college years. This was written sometime before May 2005.

As I walk

I hear the peaceful sounds

The wind massages my skin

And I keep walking

I wonder far away

Not knowing where I’ll end up

I keep going

Through the woods and paths

My freckles are burning

The suns rays hit

They are stinging

Like they’ve been bit

I think of all the feet that have been before,

Walking my very steps

Wandering away

From everything

I wonder what reasons they had




Their mind becomes important

What did they think?

Why were they here

What did they do?

I’m here




Why I came here

What I’m doing

How I got here

And if they thought of me too.

I love this poem and can’t believe I wrote it way back when… This sums up a lot of why I started writing again. I love knowing the history of our family and knowing who lived in our house before we did. There have been many times when a walk on the pasture is all you need to calm your nerves, share you happiness, feel the peace of the prairie, or just to pray. I’ve walked that pasture for many different reasons over the years but most of the time it’s to escape the chaos that can be normal life. The pasture at my parents house is where I go to breathe…


The Squeaky Fan

Every once in a while the oscillating fan in my bedroom starts to squeak. Well, it’s more like little chirps than squeaks, but you get the picture. When it makes this glorious noise, most human beings (like my dear beloved husband) would be annoyed however; I fall into a deep sleep that is full of memories and comfort from a far off land…

My room was that very top window. This picture is before my parents repainted and sided and filled cracks….etc. They did A LOT of work to the outside.

When I was 14 years old, my mom and dad agreed that it was time for me to have my own room. I begged them for years to clean out the old storage room on the 3rd floor across the hall from my older brothers shared bedroom. I’ve always been the independent type so sharing a room with my little sister was cramping my style. My brothers liked to share their bedroom and had no need for their own space, and it helped that one of them was heading off to college soon. So, my mom agreed that as long as I did the work with her, she would allow me to have my own room. FINALLY!

As I recall, cleaning out the storage room was a “family affair”. My dad grew up in this house so there were many boxes of things from his childhood as well as items my aunts had left behind from their early years. There was also a home gym system my brother put into the room to prepare for each football season, along with old furniture and other little treasures the mice had left behind.

I had dreamed of this room being mine since I could remember. It seemed like such a waste to me to have it as a storage room, but in all fairness, with 4 kids my parents had to wait for the right time to decide who got the extra room. I used to love to hide and be by myself. I remember sneaking up the stairs, climbing over the exercise equipment and boxes, until I could finally reach my destination of the old wooden chair in the fair corner of the room. The old chair was an antique with broken wooden back spindles and a broken spring in the seat. I would sit on my “princess throne” for what seemed like hours dreaming of the day this room could be mine.

After weeks of hard work, and my parents teaching me how to wall paper, paint, and lay carpet, the room was finally mine. I felt like a queen in her castle. Mom had taken me shopping for wall paper and sure enough, right by the front of the store was the clearance wall paper. If you know me, you know I headed straight for that clearance section. I was trained at a young age to check those bargain bins! Sure enough I found the perfect wall paper stuck in the bargain bin. It was yellow with blue flowers. As luck would have it, my Grandparents put new carpet in their bedroom so the old carpet was laid in my new room…

Wait a minute… What was this post about? OH RIGHT! This post was about a squeaky fan… how I digress….

Every night as I was falling asleep in my bedroom, I could hear the “critters” inside the walls and roof. At first, they would wake me up. But after a while I got used to the sound of them leaving their homes that they had made in the cracks and crevices of our old house’s outer shell. I could hear the birds swooping and then landing to feed their young. I could hear the tiny chirps of baby birds feeding. I could hear the bats scratching, cooing, and squeaking. After a while, those little noises became a comfort. So now, whenever my fan begins to squeak it takes me back to the time when I was the queen of my imaginary castle… That is, until I’m awakened by my beloved violently ripping off the covers and smacking the fan until it stops squeaking, then proceeding to slam his body back in bed. I guess the squeaky fan does not bring him the same feelings of joy that it brings me. Perhaps I should buy a new fan?

The end of my favorite season…

As I close my eyes, I feel the cool air on my face in the basement of the old barn. I remember sitting on the old wooden fence  just waiting for my favorite spring activity to begin. I try to keep warm as the smell of hay and animals fills the air. “Shhh… you kids have to be quiet and sit still” my mother whispers, both of those things not easy for 4 children under the age of 10 especially on this cold evening. I hear the soft moans of the cows and the vicious scratching the dogs are making on the barn door. They are not allowed in for this wonderful event. We wait and wait for the glorious calf to emerge from his mother. The miracle of child birth is about to begin. I still remember the smells: the straw my dad was throwing around the pen to keep the new born calf warm, the cows, and the old barn. Takes me back to those wonderful days of spring time on the farm…

I remember my dad spending so many cold days and nights in the barn tending to his “ladies”. Most of it was just sitting on the fence trying to be quiet and stay out of the way. If we had to leave the farm, he was always headed right back down to the barn when we got home. If we wanted to see him, we had to go to the barn. I remember the first time I ever saw a cows water break I was in my 20’s “EW I didn’t know that happened!” To which my dad replied, “I left you kids in the house until after the water broke so you wouldn’t get so restless waiting for the calf to come out.” 

My dad has a small herd of Red Angus Cross ladies that he pays special attention to every spring. To this day, I look forward to my weekly phone call with the “calving updates”. “How many did you have this week dad?” Now, it’s getting more exciting as I not only get his calving update I get my brothers and sisters as well. The stories will never get old. There’s always a new and exciting story about having to “pull the calf”, “stupid cow keeps jumping over the fence to get away from her calf”, “that one can never find her calf”, “oh I think this might be her last year calving”, or my personal favorite “have to perform a C- section. Want to help?”  (This experience will be another blog post entirely)

At one point in time my dad decided my brother needed to own some of his own cattle when we were younger. A small herd of baby dairy calves was purchased and Matt started on his quest. One of the best things about baby calves: they will suck on anything. I remember this particular instance my siblings and I decided it would be a fun game if we all tried to get a calf on each of our fingers.  While the 3 older siblings were having a ball tempting the babies with our wiggling fingers, no one was watching my baby sister. She thought the game would be fun too! She was old enough to understand the game; however, she was not physically large enough to participate. the older kids were all having a ball stealing each other’s calves from the other because there weren’t enough for all of us and then we heard it, a loud blood curdling scream from the corner of the large calf pen escaped my sisters lips. My head jerked to the side to look at the tiny creature it came from. As I looked closer I realized I couldn’t see her arm… Only one baby calf had decided to suck on her fingers. However, she was too small and the calf decided her fingers were not pleasurable enough for its “needs”. He had sucked her entire hand, forearm, and elbow down its throat. All the way up to her tiny little shoulder! OOPS! My brothers raced over to her rescue and yanked her arm out of the calf’s mouth. She was fine. Just a little shook up. Definitely a story her children will be hearing!

I have so many fond memories from the years of calving season. I remember being woken up early in the morning to my mom’s voice saying, “another calf is being born, get out to the barn if you want to watch!” I also remember coming downstairs for breakfast only to see a little baby calf on the living room floor shivering from cold covered in my mom’s old rugs and blankets. I remember racing down to the “calf huts” to help bottle feed the calves whose mom’s abandoned them or died during delivery. I remember getting to the basement of the barn and trying to avoid all the “mud” so I could get to the cattle pen and see the newest member of our herd. I remember running so fast to get to the basement of the barn that I fell down the steep steps, only to get into trouble for making too much noise and spooking the cow.

These little creatures were the instruments used in shaping my young life of responsibility. A very wise man once said to me “Think of it like this, you’re holding $200 in your hand. If this baby isn’t taken care of and dies, the money is gone too” Those are pretty profound words for a 5 year old to hear. The long hours spent working to keep each little calf alive was exactly what I needed in my young life. I’m thankful for the opportunities that I had growing up on the small farm. They have shaped me into the responsible woman I am today!

The calf that was born on our wedding day. Unfortunately, the momma wouldn’t let us get closer than this.