After a couple of hard fall freezes, many of the world's colors have faded like fabric left too long in the sun. But during the past few weeks, as I rushed from one "go-fer" activity to the next, I sometimes paused for a snapshot.
While the autumn scenes are fast fading to the more sepia tones of winter, I'm glad I took the short detours to capture fleeting beauty.
Several of my daily emails from Guideposts have urged me to relish my surroundings:
A Time to Think
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns. —George Eliot
A Time to Act
Autumn is a beautiful time of year—the crimson hues of fall foliage
are awesome proof of His presence.
Notice this amazing gift that is Jesus’ signature
and praise Him for His glory.
A Time to Pray
Dear Lord, my spirit cries out for You. I praise You for this beautiful world
and Your presence in it.
A Time to Think
Imagination is what convinces us
that there's more to the world than meets the eye.
And isn't that the first principle of faith?
—Jonathan Rogers, author
A Time to Act
Treat yourself and relish in the beauty of life.
A Time to Pray
Dear Lord, I praise You for simple pleasures.
A sunrise. A walk through the woods.
Remind me to take the time to notice the aspects of Your handiwork
that thrill my soul.
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge
A Time to Act
Look to the trees and the scattered leaves on the ground
and be inspired to let go of the weight of past hurts and disappointments,
forgive yourself of any mistakes.
A Time to Pray
Heavenly Father, help me release feelings and thoughts that are holding me back
from becoming all I am meant to be.
That morning started with a parts run to Hutchinson. I was heading south to Highway 50, but a glance to the east had me turning down the road to my "sunrise tree." I snapped a couple of photos, not my customary dozen, turned around and resumed my duty.
Later that evening, I had to pick Randy up from the field around sunset.
The view as I crossed Peace Creek was worth another stop. The camera's eye couldn't seem to capture the scene, no matter how many adjustments I made. It ended up being one of those moments when you just have to "be there."
But as I turned away from the sunset and toward the eastern skies, the scene took my breath away.
The sunset light had shut down my camera lens when looking directly towards it. But that same light bathed the clouds in the eastern sky, highlighting them in diffused, pastel light.
My go-fer job doesn't pay particularly well ... unless you count the sunrises and the sunsets. Then I am a rich woman indeed.
(I was looking for the terminology for the eastern sky at sunset. I didn't find that, but I did find a fascinating interview about the science of sunsets from National Geographic.)
The white gravestones march across the landscape, lined up in the military precision familiar to the soldiers who rest there.
The Black Hills National Cemetery is located just off I-90 between Rapid City and Deadwood. The the sounds of 18-wheelers and the rush of cars fade away as you drive through the gates to the cemetery.
Randy and I visited on a September day, a short detour as we traveled from the Rapid City Hospital, where his brother was being cared for, and his apartment in Deadwood.
I decided to save my blog post and photos until this Veterans Day weekend.
It was in 1947 that Congressman Francis Case endorsed the concept of a national cemetery in South Dakota. With the active support of South Dakota veterans organizations, the site was chosen just outside Sturgis in a portion of the Fort Meade Military Reservation.
The 105.9 acre parcel of land was transferred to the Department of the Army in 1948 for national cemetery purposes. The cemetery was designated the Black Hills National Cemetery in recognition of its location within an area of historical significance.
There are more than 29,000 members of the Armed Forces and their eligible dependents buried in the shadow of the Black Hills.
It's a solemn and quiet place.
One of the plaques at the cemetery reads:
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.
Because Randy's dad was a Korean War veteran, we stopped to pay our respects at the memorial for that war.
The American flag is flown 24 hours a day at the Black Hills National Cemetery. It stands in silent vigil honoring the lives and deeds of those who answered the call of duty in their nation's service.
On this Veterans Day, I thank all of those who have served our country in the past and those who continue to protect us as active duty personnel today. I also thank their families, who sacrifice their time with their loved ones to benefit us all.
This nation will remain the land of the free
only so long as it is the home of the brave. ~Elmer Davis
For a look back at other Veterans Day tributes from The County Line, check these out:
"I'm sorry, but this is a prototype, and you can't take pictures."
"No, ma'am. I'm sorry."
OK. I'm up for a challenge. I can take pictures and not reveal your super secret MacDon draper header, Mr. MacDon Salesguy. (For the record, I asked our local harvester, and he said it was OK if I didn't show details of the header itself.)
It personally think it was more of a challenge to get the silage in the truck. The wind was blowing 90 mph from the north. (Well, maybe it wasn't that bad, but it sure seemed like it!) Naturally, that's the day the silage-cutting crew showed up to cut of 25 acres of silage.
The silage wasn't standing tall either. While we waited for our turn from the custom-cutting crew, the tall stalks succumbed to gravity. It was definitely a different scene than last year, when the stalks towered over Randy's 6-foot, 1-inch frame.
By the time the harvesters reached the second field, the sun was on its way down. Even though the lighting wasn't ideal on the photo below, I still liked the image of the four silage trucks waiting in their own mini version of a silage traffic jam.
Opening the field was challenging, since the silage was down and the wind was howling.
But, eventually, they were rolling, though the pace was slower than is sometimes the case.
Silage cutting is another one of those choreographed farm "dances." The silage feeds into the cutter and is chopped. An auger carries the chopped silage into the truck.
All this happens "on the go," with the truck and the cutter continuing in sync through the field until they get to the end of the rows. They then move into position for the next swath down the field.
As they cut, another truck follows behind, ready to move into position when the first truck is full.
By design, Randy plants the silage in fields fairly close to the silo so that it doesn't have to be trucked so far.
Once it's full, the trucker takes it to the silo.
I give the truckers an A+ for their backing skills.
The silage trucker backs into the trench silo, dumps his load and takes off for another load-on-the-go.
Between trucks, the tractor driver packs the silage into our own "Green Mountain."
Once in the silo, the silage goes through an "ensiling" process. The silage goes through chemical changes and heat builds up. It raises the pH of the silage so that it doesn't spoil or ferment any more. About the top 6 inches of it will rot, but then it forms an airtight seal, protecting the silage underneath.
After we brought the cows and calves off the summer pastures, the guys started feeding the silage to the feeder calves. For them
Randy adds about 3 to 4 pounds of vitamin- and
mineral-enriched grain per head, since they need the additional energy
to grow to get ready for market. After the mama cows are done dining on milo stubble and volunteer wheat, they, too, will get the
It's good to see the cattle's "pantry" full and ready for Old Man Winter.
Ultrasound images of babies typically mean the pitter-patter of little feet will join a family. Yes, we're expecting! We're expecting 25 babies with four feet each from 25 heifers! That's a lot of pitter-pattering.
Preg-checks for our 25 heifers went high-tech this year. Veterinarian Dr. Dayul Dick arrived with an ultrasound machine to evaluate our 25 heifers. All 25 were expecting, though one will be a very late arrival.
This was the first year Dr. Dick used the ultrasound for our heifers. In the past, he or his associate Dr. Harder have manually examined the first-time moms. These heifers are the female cattle born on the County Line in early 2016 who are expecting their first babies, beginning in January 2018 and into February 2018.
Dr. Dick inserted the ultrasound probe and then looked on his headgear to determine whether the heifer was pregnant.
The majority were in the 5.5 to 6 month stage. Determining the sex isn't an option with a quick check at this stage of pregnancy, Dr. Dick said. It's actually easier to determine sex at 2 months when the fetus isn't taking up as much "real estate" in the uterus.
After the preg-check was done, veterinary assistant Liz gave four vaccines to each heifer.
The heifers (and at a later vet visit, the cows) are given a blackleg
booster shot. Blackleg is a highly fatal disease of the skeletal and
heart muscle of cattle. We also give a combination shot that
prevents leptospiriosis and BVD. Leptospiriosis is an bacterial
infection that may cause abortion or stillbirth. BVD stands for Bovine
Viral Diarrhea - 'nuff said. They also gave a shot as a dewormer
to control parasites like worms, lice and liver flukes.
The heifers also got a shot of Scour Bos. The vaccination helps
prevent scours (diarrhea) in their babies. Cattlemen want to produce
healthy cattle. It's better for the cattle, and it's also better for the
bottom line. Just
like we gave recommended vaccinations to our children, we believe it's
important to give our cattle every medical advantage to have a healthy
Don't ob-gyn appointments just want to make you hide?
But the appointment was soon done, and we hauled the heifers to the pasture, where there still seems to be quite a bit of green. They also have access to an alfalfa field for grazing.
It was a high-tech day on the County Line with the veterinarian's ultrasound and the silage cutters using a prototype draper header. (That story will come up on Thursday.) Who knew we were on the cutting edge?