Thursday, September 28, 2023

Scenes from The County Line

Hey, it's the Lone Ranger. 

Nope, he had a friend or two. 

These two "bandits" were hanging out in the trees near Peace Creek Sunday evening. They didn't stay long enough to visit before skeedaddling up an old tree and hiding in the upper branches. 

On first glance, they are pretty cute, but the rascals can cause some damage. They steal food from the cat bowls. For awhile, they didn't think we were offering a large enough buffet at the Fritzemeier Farm feed trough. They were bound and determined to get into the wash house to help themselves to the food. They were pulling wood planks off the wash house, so it's still hard to be hospitable to scoundrels that make such a mess (though these particular individuals were probably innocent).
They weren't the only wildlife on our drive. While at the Rattlesnake Pasture, we could hear the coyotes vocalizing before their nighttime serenade. The Rocky Mountain beeplant made for some pretty scenery shots.

After driving through our pasture, we took a detour home through Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

The light was just right to capture these two birds and their reflections.

The duck wanted in on the scene.
The setting sun seemed to be reflected in the goldenrod near the kids' fishing pond, so abundant at this time of year. 


The temperature may not reflect fall yet, but the colors are trying to convince us. The milo field across from the house is turning, getting ready for harvest.

It was almost like the colors of the sky were reflected in the ripening field.


Friday, September 22, 2023

Not a Good Kind of Rainbow


I like rainbows - most of the time. But when "rainbows" are in creek water, it's not a good thing.

We were notified Wednesday, September 13, about an oil spill that impacted our Rattlesnake Creek Pasture. The "rainbow" in the creek water was the sheen of oil floating on the surface of the Rattlesnake Creek. 

Google map
Google map - From

On September 12, the Kansas Corporation Commission notified the Environmental Protection Agency of the oil discharge to Rattlesnake Creek in Stafford County, according to Ben Washburn, Public Affairs Officer for EPA Region 7.

Google map
Google map - From

An article in The Hutchinson Post said that the responsible party reported 90,000 gallons of brine, or salt water generated during oil production, spilled from a disposal well line that transects Rattlesnake Creek approximately 0.25 mile east of NE 90th Avenue. The brine contained an estimated 600 to 700 gallons of oil.

This Haz Mat vehicle was in the pasture, and we met another Haz Mat trailer on the road as we were leaving.

The oil company and the EPA responded quickly. Once on site, the  EPA On-Scene Coordinator observed areas of sheening and small pockets of oil up to 2.1 miles from the source of the spill, including our pasture. Responsible party contractors have recovered approximately 160 barrels (6,720 gallons) of mostly brine to date. The responsible party contractors are continuing oil containment and recovery operations under EPA oversight. On Friday, small amounts of oil were observed up to 4 miles downstream of the spill location, according to Washburn. They reported no observed impacts within the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, which is a few miles away from our pasture. 

Randy talking with a Haz Mat crew after they'd built a dam over the creek in our pasture.

 To corral the oil, they placed a boom along Rattlesnake Creek to prevent further oil migration. 

The disposal well line that was the source of the spill was isolated and is no longer actively leaking, according to the EPA.

Sunday night, we were back in the pasture to see the progress made.

Ironically, it wasn't the only oil leak in the pasture. We were in Topeka and Kansas City celebrating birthdays when we got a phone call from the Millers, who care for our cattle and their own at the Rattlesnake Pasture. A different pumping unit was spraying oil. Todd got the unit shut off, but it did leave behind some oil.


On Wednesday, Randy went back to the pasture and found that the oil company had already cleaned up the site and the well was up and pumping again.

The booms are still in place on the creek, though, and he said there were plenty of Haz Mat Response team vehicles supervising the progress. (Unlike me, he didn't take any photos.) They told Randy that they'd likely remove the booms and the dam in a few days.


Thursday, September 7, 2023

Every Day Beauty

Looking west, toward the sunset

This summer, a daughter who had lost her mom unexpectedly asked people to send photos of the sunset. Her mom grew up in Stafford and had maintained her ties with her hometown, my PEO group and our church.

I made a mental note to pay attention as the evening progressed so I could go out and honor this family's wish for their mom/wife/grandma.

For awhile, I thought a rain shower was going to derail my plans. We need the rain, so it was welcome anyway. But as the sun was setting, the sky cleared enough for a beautiful sunset. Later, as I've examined the photo more closely, I'm reminded of a song that meant a lot to me when my mother-in-law, Marie, died unexpectedly. It is called Holes in the Floor of Heaven by Steve Wariner. It's told from the perspective of an 8-year-old boy, which was Brent's age at the time of Marie's death. (Jill was 11, so our granddaughters are that age right now. Brooke just turned 9 on Monday.) Anyway, when I look at the right side of the sunset, it looks like holes in the floor of heaven. I hadn't heard that song for years when it began playing as I drove to town for Brent's homecoming assembly his senior year of high school. It was like a God wink that day.

On the Facebook post, I wrote:

We had a storm a little earlier. This was as the sun was setting on the Stafford/Reno line. I thought about how you are currently going through a storm, but there is still light breaking through. I will pray that for all of you. 💜
When I turned to look at the sky to the south, I found it compelling in a different way.

As is usually the case, the view was dependent upon where and when you looked. Isn't that a metaphor for life itself?

At sunset isn't the only time you can look at things differently. In July, I noticed a sunflower field blooming south of 4th Street Road, which we take to and from Hutchinson. It was worth a short detour for a closer look.

From afar, the sunflowers looked like soldiers at attention. 

But a closer look revealed some differences. This one wasn't quite ready for its closeup, even though its neighbor was preening in the sun.

 Others were already starting to dry down and starting to wilt.

Sunflowers grown as crops for seeds and oil don't stay pretty long. These days, there's not a yellow head to be found. 

But I don't have to drive down the road to realize that beauty can be fleeting. The day lilies in our backyard brighten our days while they bloom each summer. 

But they, too, bloom in their own season and then fade until they return the next year.

 The corn field across the road looked so green and vibrant in late June.

Earlier this week, our neighbor cut the corn. All that was left at sunset were the stalks.

Not a great photo and not a sensational sunset. But I guess it still illustrates the difference in just a couple of months.

 These fleeting moments remind us to appreciate the little things as they come.

I thought about it again as I contemplated what to play on the piano at church this Sunday for prelude, offertory and postlude. I always try to tie the music with the Bible readings and liturgy. In those efforts, I look at a UMC Discipleship website for inspiration. In the materials this week, it talks about God sightings. 

We are the ones who are trying to be tuned into God’s wavelength, listening to God’s broadcast. Therefore, we look for the signs that God is at work in and around us always. ... We might be surprised by where and from whom we encounter God’s presence when we open our eyes to what is around us. We are more than passive observers, however. We are active presenters, active signs of God’s presence in the world. We commit ourselves again this week to presenting the goodness of God in the world around us. We do that best by how we care. We care for one another and seek reconciliation whenever possible. We care for God’s people everywhere by giving and helping and loving. ... We care and are called to care as a way of being a sign of God’s care for creation. What is the sign? It is us. 
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries from UMC Discipleship Ministries

 Let’s come before him with thanks! Let’s shout songs of joy to him!

—Psalm 95:2

A Time to Think

All the world is an utterance of the Almighty. Its countless beauties, its exquisite adaptations, all speak to you of Him.     –Phillips Brooks, clergyman and author

A Time to Pray

Dear Lord, please help me to see the beauty of every day. 

From the Daily Devotional email from Guideposts