(Photos follow at the bottom of the page.)
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) There are moments in life when time stands still–simple words or visions that stop us all dead in our tracks and freeze time. Unfortunately, PJ and I experienced a couple of those moments mid-week with the sad revelation of news that we’ve lost people back home.
We are blessed to live in the kind of community that really is like a big extended family, complete with the ups and downs characteristic of families. Those kinds of ties are long and strong, and we pray that our hometown can overcome tragedy with love and forgiveness. Though we are hurting for our friends and neighbors as everyone copes with heartbreaking loss magnified by insufferable blizzard conditions, we’re making a pointed effort to marinate in this rare chance to reconnect with distant family and friends and make a few new friends along the way. Isn’t that one of life’s greatest blessings, after all?
There may be snow on our hearts, but we are experiencing March Texas weather that seems foreign to us, resembling Montana in July. Temps range from 70 to 90 degrees in the daytime, grass is green, and trees are budding new leaves. It makes us momentarily forget that our pastures in Montana are currently buried under several feet of blowing (but much-needed) snow.
Last week, I noted how we hadn’t seen a lot of wildlife along the road. We did finally see a lonely antelope along the road today, just after crossing the New Mexico border from Texas. It’s the first one we’ve seen since we left home, and not a herd of them–just one. This region like so much of the last few hundred miles has experienced serious drought, and it’s having an impact on wildlife. Comparing the livestock types and wildlife species has been a fun road-trip science project. The cattle are different, the deer are different, there are feral pigs, axis, sheep and goats galore, plus so many other things I’m forgetting.
We’ve really only been in two places this week, but we have so enjoyed them! Beginning last Sunday, we basked in the hospitality of Emry Birdwell and his wife Deborah at the Birdwell-Clark Ranch in Henrietta, Texas, whom we fortuitously met on our ranch a few years back. It’s safe to say that these two individuals are high up on our list of folks we admire, and we aspire to accomplish half of what they’ve been able to on their operation. Emry and Deborah, through careful planned management practices have increased the stocking capacity on their ranch to the point they can run the same number of stocker cattle (5,200 in one herd, moving several times per day) on 2,500 acres LESS than when they started a couple decades ago. That is something you can’t put a numerical value on. We’re so grateful to them for letting us tag along for a few days and absorb all the nuggets of wisdom we could.
On Wednesday, we headed for San Angelo, Texas to stay with PJ’s youngest brother Tim and our sister-in-law Meagan and their 10 of their 11 children, ages infant to young adult. What a treat it was for us, as we hadn’t seen them since they moved down from Great Falls, Montana two years ago. We were sad to have missed the oldest who’s off to college now but basked in getting to tag along in their busy lives, from baseball practices, music ensembles, shopping, playing dominoes, Crumbl cookie outings, to meeting the neighbors and co-workers who are now in their lives, playing pinochle, in addition to delivering beef to new and repeat customers. It was a busy and fulfilling time, and we can’t wait to do it again.
Today, we find ourselves headed west toward New Mexico and Arizona where more adventure awaits. Until then, stay blessed, friends… Enjoy the pics below.