Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Building a Bridge: A 14th Blog-iversary

From a trip in 2020

It took 14 years for Mount Rushmore to be translated from idea to stone. Brooklyn Bridge construction took 14 years before it spanned the river, connecting New York and Brooklyn. But we don't typically make a big deal about a 14th anniversary.

And while 14 isn't a magic multiple of 5 - the hallmark of anniversary celebrations - I still want to mark this day as the 14th year since I first pressed "publish" on my inaugural Kim's County Line blog post. As I've said before, I began blogging for that reason every mother hates hearing: Other people were doing it. In my case, it was my sister, my niece and my daughter. (None of the rest of them are still blogging.) I also was recruited to write a monthly post for a women's devotional blog for a local church. Having my own "spot" to write and share photography seemed like a natural evolution. So, Kim's County Line was born on January 24, 2010. In those 14 years, I've published 2,220 blog posts.

December 27, 2023
For the past 14 years, Kim's County Line has helped me track our lives on a five-generation Central Kansas farm. Having this avenue to collect words and photos has helped me to connect with our  heritage and this life in a new way. 
And back to that Brooklyn Bridge analogy: It's been a way for me to connect with people far away from the plains of Kansas and share our story.

It isn't just my story and Randy's. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors who came to Kansas for the promise of land ownership and a desire to dream big and work hard on the Kansas plains. That seems fitting as we approach Kansas Day next week, celebrating 163 years since our state joined the Union. 
And, with our retirement from active farming in August 2022, the blog evolved again. I'm still writing, but the frequency and the content have shifted. But that's been happening my whole life. I remember "writing" my first story at a women's church meeting (WSCS) in the basement of the Byers Methodist Church. My mom handed me a little notebook and I scratched out a few words and pictures on the lined sheets of paper. With Kim's County Line, I've substituted my crude hand-drawn illustrations with clicks of the camera shutter. 
The Class Prophecy for Skyline High School's Class of 1975 predicted I'd be a writer at The New York Times by now. Since I'm a small-town girl through and through, I never bought into the vision some creative classmate penned 49 years ago.

At the time, I suppose we all envisioned that success was measured far, far away from Kansas. But maybe our 17- and 18-year-old selves were a little short-sighted. (Imagine that.) But the writing - in one form or another - has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I even chose it for my profession. 

It was a way to share the story of a 5th-generation farm family. It gave a platform for our voice telling about agriculture and didn't depend on a fast food restaurant or animal welfare group to define who we are and what we do. It was a way to record family history. It offered a glimpse of the work we were doing to our landlords and to anyone else who decided to follow along. 

And it changed me, too. The blog has given me the eyes to see how small, simple things are really the most important things of all. Even the most mundane, everyday things can cause us to pause in wonder.
 I hope it's created positive ripples in this world. 
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. 
Mother Teresa

Each quarter, I've compiled my blog posts into hardcover blog books. I got my latest one on Monday and added another volume to the bookcase.
For now, I continue to write and share photos. I continue to tell stories. And I want to thank those of you who come along for the journey - whether it's every time I post or whether you just take an occasional jaunt down the County Line.

It's my blogiversary, but to celebrate, one person will get a gift from me ...
  • a selection of my photo notecards, or ...
  •  a copy of "Count on It! Adventures from a Kansas Farm" my rhyming, farm-themed counting book, ...
  • OR a revamped version of my farm alphabet book
To qualify, either comment about this blog post in the comment section of the blog or on my Facebook page, Kim Moore Fritzemeier. If you use the blog for comments, you'll have to type in your name or it will show "anonymous." Or, if you have trouble with either of those avenues, you may email me at The winner will be chosen at random from the commenters. Enter your comment by January 31 for a chance to win.

Again, I thank you! 

UPDATE: Winner of the drawing is Jan Blasi, who commented on Facebook. She has chosen to receive photo notecards. Thanks to all for your comments and for your support!


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Snow Perspective


Changing your vantage point can make all the difference in the world. It's true for photos. And it's true for life itself.

As the snow started falling near dusk on January 8, I took several photos from both my front and back doors. The photos were pretty. But I kept looking at the wires, draped from the windmill to the house, and wishing they weren't there. (OK, if I'd really thought that through, I would be mighty thankful for those wires. Electricity is a wonderful thing.)

So, I shifted my lens to the north, trying to avoid the lines. Mission accomplished ... except that the yard light couldn't illuminate the swing the way I'd hoped. So I put on my shoes and I shifted my perspective. That change of vantage point yielded my favorite shot of our January 8-9 snowstorm.  It also made my sweatshirt and shoes wet, but they dried off.


I didn't really think about it at the time, but there's a lesson there for life, too. We get "stuck," looking at people and situations in the same old way - at least, I can do that. Sometimes, we need to shift our perspective to see those same things differently. 

That lesson was further illuminated - so to speak - when I compared snow photos I'd taken on a gloomy January morning - January 5 - and photos taken in the morning of January 9 after the sun started shining. Those sunless shots seemed almost blue. But, with the sun shining, there was less "flatness" and more dimension. At that point, I couldn't get down our road for a re-do of the shots. The January 8-9 snow and accompanying wind left behind plenty of drifts. 

But that didn't keep me from wandering our farmyard. Thankfully, I didn't step out of my boots, though it was close a time or two.

 I decided to take my dusk scene in the sunlight ... different perspective, yet again!


We have windbreaks on all sides of our house. But the wind-driven snow still made drifts on the trees and bushes, as well as the driveways.


It took me awhile to warm up after my snow excursion.

But the temperatures then entered the deep-freeze zone. It may start to get better tomorrow.

Hmmm ... I guess we're back to that perspective thing again.

Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance.
Charles Lindbergh
"I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields that it kisses them so gently? Then it covers them up snug, you know, like a white quilt. And perhaps it says, 'Go to sleep, darlings, until the summer comes again.' "
Lewis Carroll

"Snow ... blots and softens the top of every object like ice on a plum pudding. Hedges, telegraph wires, cars, postboxes, recycling bins. The world is losing its edges. Look upwards and it seems as if the stars themselves are being poured from the sky and turn out not to be vast and fiery globes after all but tiny, frozen things which melt in the palm of your hand."
Mark Haddon

And speaking of perspective ... These photos are pretty. But the wind chills that have put Kansas in the deep freeze are UGLY. I have not missed having to spend my mornings in a feed truck during these multiple days of sub-zero wind chills. (That truck never really warmed up.) I've thought a lot about the people who have been caring for livestock, fixing utility lines and doing other outside work in these frigid temperatures. 

I'm also thankful for the people who spent time in our cold attic, replacing a water pipe! Unfortunately, our old farmhouse pipes fell victim to the cold. We are thankful for the prompt and attentive service of a local business - Meyer Electrical in Stafford. Pipes to our upstairs bathroom sink burst Sunday night. Thankfully, we were still up and heard the water dripping from upstairs and through the dining room ceiling, splashing through the chandelier. We knew there was nothing they could do then, but Randy called Meyer's answering service to get on the list for first thing Monday morning. But, soon after, Jake Meyer called us back to check on us - even though it was after 11 PM. Randy reiterated that he had turned off the water to the house and that there was nothing Jake could do. We kept mopping up water and listening to it drip into the tin pans I'd placed under the chandelier. And, true to their word, Meyer Electric was out to make the repairs first thing Monday morning. 

These photos are dark, but I didn't turn on the light. You know, electricity and water don't mix!

 Thank you, Meyer Electric! We appreciate you!


Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Kansas is Closed

Taken Friday, January 5, 2024

It's been awhile since we were all that interested in the cancellations banner, running at the bottom of the local news. Back when Jill and Brent were home, that's the way we discovered if school had been canceled for the day due to snow.
Today, we were supposed to have an important appointment with Mrs. Kylie Meyer's second grade class at Stafford Elementary School. As I was writing this Monday afternoon, I imagined that I'd be perched in front of my TV screen Tuesday morning, watching the cancellation notices. 
But, in this day and age, I learned via Facebook last night that school was canceled for today. So, Farming: Then and Now - as told by Randy and Kim Fritzemeier - will have to wait for another day.

It seems that Kansas is closed today for all intents and purposes. But, I also know that those who care for cattle and other livestock will be out there, still getting the job done. (I won't miss climbing into the feed truck today like I used to do. My brother already sent a photo of feeding cattle this morning. Tye and Todd also moved some hay bales to our farm yard before the storm ever started.) I know electric crews, road crews, law enforcement officers, health care workers and lots of others have been hard at work in terrible conditions.
Back to our school gig: Every year, Mrs. Meyer does a similar unit. She invites different businesses and organizations to talk to her students. The class spends some time doing research at the Stafford County Museum. Besides learning a little local history, the students also learn about contrast and comparison and other cross-disciplinary concepts. 
Several years ago, I developed a Power Point presentation using photos that my mom and dad compiled in a family history book they made for each of their grandchildren. Those helped provide the "then" part of farming. And, truth be told, both Randy and I have plenty of "then" stories of our own from our time growing up on our respective family farms. Besides the old-time photos, I added lots of photos from our own farming operation. 
When we do get to go to school, Randy says he'll tell the students about the snow days of our youth. I know they didn't happen often. And, as I've thought about, I remember a time when the roads were drifted shut. My dad took us the 3 1/2 miles to school at Byers, driving across farm fields. And the dress code was different back then, too. If we girls wore pants, we still had to wear a dress over it. Man, I really am old!
Taken after sunset on Monday, January 8, 2024. Yard light on the windmill in our backyard.
A disclaimer: All the photos in this blog post except the one immediately above were taken last Friday. We got some snow then, too, but we didn't have the wind to go with it. 

Photos from the latest storm will have to wait.
But last Friday, we had a much kinder, gentler exposure to winter. 
So Randy and I spent some time in the yard and then drove around for our own version of Eyewitness Weather.

The wind that is usually so prevalent in Kansas seemed bedded down for a long winter's nap .. or, at least it was taking the day off. (It was back with a vengeance yesterday and today.)

The only other living thing we saw at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge was a deer, who didn't seem particularly concerned about intruders to his domain.

I wish this was better focus ...

We were surprised not to see or hear any birds on the refuge at that time.

I'll probably get some photos of this latest snow at some point. But, then again, maybe I'll read my book for awhile.