Sunday, February 22, 2009









As usual, my "Christmas" letter is just a bit tardy, again this year! I have been searching for the perfect day of inspiration to be productive, but it has taken several months! There are many irons in the fire these days and my favorite time of day has shifted from crawling into bed after a long, busy day to waking at 3:45am to bottle feed our baby colt (Hershey) and Gus, our bull calf. A local cowboy friend gave both of them to me - their mothers had abandoned them after birth. In the past month, they have become a special part of our lives! Following the 4am feeding, I have found the time to get the laundry done, correct the last few papers and actually sit down to hear what's happening in the world, before I wake the boys for school. Dyke, of course, is incoherent and deep in his REM sleep while all of this is happening!

We made a 5-day trip to the Rio Grande country during Spring Break with 3 other game wardens and their kids! We camped out (Dyke's aunt's rustic cabin) right on the Rio and gazed into the hills of the Chihuahuan Desert in Old Mexico each day. It was SPECTACULAR! We explored some ancient Indian caves, canoed the Rio Grande and saw some gorgeous desert country! We can't wait to head back there soon! It was in the same country that the set of Lonesome Dove was filmed in! You know I was eatin' it up while I pretended to be a pioneer and think about what it would have been like around there hundreds of years ago. The caves were incredible and dated back as far as 10,000 years ago! The kids caught a 100 lb alligator gar in the Rio! Talk about PREHISTORIC!!! We all had such a blast! Dyke's brother even caught a rattlesnake,WITH HIS HANDS, so we could get a closer view! He likes life on the edge more than we do!

It was Jake's first year in 4H and he raised chickens. He started with 50 birds, and ended up with about 45. He woke up each morning at 5:45 to feed and water them and then got ready for school. It all paid off as he made the show (red ribbon) and sold them (3 of his best hens) at auction for $ 900.00!!! I wish they had an adult division...I could use the $900.00!!! He was involved in gymnastics for a few months before baseball and 4H got started and really enjoyed it! He received a trophy at the Christmas show, so we were all very proud of him! During the Country Fair and PRCA Rodeo, he was selected to participate in the calf scramble on one of the rodeo nights. He worked hard to catch a calf, but wasn't able to get one. Maybe next year! He has enjoyed his 3rd grade year and looks forward to 4th grade at my campus.

Zacky was chosen to ride in the Mutton Bustin' at the Country Fair and Rodeo. He rode "Baaaaad Bubba". For those Yanks who aren't up on the rodeo lingo, mutton bustin' is when the younger "cowpokes" ride a sheep in a timed event. With #9 pinned to his back, and a crash helmet, he was off at a dead run once the gate was slung open! He rode all the way to the center of the arena and then slid off its neck and kinda got trampled...The place was packed with spectators from all over and you could hear a big "Awww..." in symphony from the crowds! The Fair Queens and cowgirls ran over, scooped him up and wiped his tears - he loved that part, I think! The trophy at the end of the made it all worth it! YEE-HAW!! He is enjoying his daycare school and is doing well. He has to wait 1 more year before kindergarten due to his late birthday. He will be a HOSS compared to the other boys! Dyke was the same way and recalls having to stand by the wall during most recesses because he would wrestle the boys and squish the stuffing out of them! I can see it coming with Zacky too! No guts, no glory with him!

Dyke's work is still an adventure for him, as I 'spect it always will be. Shrimping season starts soon, so things will get very busy for him. It has been somewhat low-key as he hasn't brought too many gators or snakes home lately; although we caught 2 good sized ones in the pond this Fall! He continues to pester and play pranks on the local policemen by putting 'possums, snakes and other critters in their patrol cars. They retaliate by greasing his door handle, but I don't think they realize who they are messin' with!A little grease on his handle isn't going to do much to stop him and will probably just "egg 'im on". In clarification, for those PETA supporters, the wildlife is not at all harmed and are quickly returned to their habitats when the prank is complete...

His anual elk hunt to Colorado was wonderful, but unsuccessful for him this year. He said it was the closest that he has ever been to death before. They found themselves VERY REMOTE and without water. Pretty serious dehydration set in with swelling tongues and throats, so it got the adrenalin pumping in his old body. He loves a good challenge - especially if survival is involved - but he definitely wants sympathy when he gives his account of what happened.

He is perfecting his dog training skills and is VERY GOOD! He could be making some serious cash if he wasn't so humble!

I am still juggling an assortment of animals down on the farm - Dyke calls it the Misfit Farm. Sometimes I wonder how I get myself into these things. Our turkey flock has grown to 25 and they took to wanderin' once Spring hit. The last we heard, they were sighted near the next town. Haven't had a report in a few months, so I imagine they are taking up space in someone's freezer or belly by now. Only 2 gobblers remain here at the barn - a crippled one and one of the older ones. They come up for corn each night. I gutted and plucked one of the bigger TOMS for Thanksgiving supper this year. Dyke was into eating an organic bird, but didn't want anything to do with processing it. So, the boys and I had a good anatomy lesson down by the creek - removing the organs and taking about their function before we tossed it in the creek to feed the gators. Education can't get any better than that! I suggested that we each take a bite of the heart, like the Indians did, but that didn't go over too well with the boys. I just couldn't seem to convince them!

I raised an orphan squab (baby pigeon) who we called Homer. He lived on soggy oatmeal for several weeks and now he is a permanent resident of the barn rafters. He thinks he is a turkey, as those were the only bird role models that he imprinted on when he was young. It is hysterical to watch him go around with the flock, walking along side of them while they peck and scratch in the pasture. With the flock gone, he stays pretty close to home these days. The 2 turkeys that are still around don't have much patience with him!

We are down to only 7 pheasants and 7 chickens.

The nanny goats just had another batch, and the babies are off to a new home already, but as the Billy would have it, the nannies are bred again! Geeze, just like a man, eh?

Hershey and Gus are very time consuming with the bottle-feeding every 4 hours or so, but they should be on pellets soon, so that will relieve things a bit.

Sloppy Joe and T-Bone are really getting thick and have some beautiful long horns already!

I was in a Houston Hospital for 4 days following emergency knee surgery! It is a pretty strange story! To cut it short and sweet, my rooster spurred me in the knee and caused an AGRESSIVE INFECTION! About 1 hour after it happened, my knee was triple the normal size and so still that I could not walk. I fainted 4 times, I am told, from the pain. Dyke took me to the ER that night and after a tetanus shot and some Demerol, I was in better shape, but had to wait it out Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, I went to the clininc here so a doctor could drain it. Usual knee fluid is about 6cc of clearish-yellow fluid. He stuck the needle in and removed 75cc of THICK, MOTOR OIL type liquid!! It was N-A-S-T-Y! He immediately called an ortho-surgeon in Houston and the guy said, "Have her here for surgery at 6:30 tonight!" So, my bottle-fed babies, as well as the boys went to stay with 2 different cowboy friends. Dyke and I were off to Houston! Four holes were drilled around my knee as the inner bone needed to be scraped due to a bacteria created enzyme that eats cartilage. Then, they flushed it with antibiotics and let it drain. Finally after a 4-day stay, with my crutches and an I.V. still in place, I was liberated! I had to give myself daily antibiotics through my I.V. and it took about an hour to feed through. I had a small tube that was inserted in my arm at the elbow and ran clear up to my shoulder (in the vein). There was a port that I administered the meds through...I liked it because it reminded me of working cattle - ya know....syringes and medicine!

The rooster has not made it to the pot yet, and probably won't but I have a great pair of SPUR EARRINGS that I made after Dyke sawed the spurs off! I plan to wear them to my "Survivor" interview - if I make it that far! I hope I get chosen...2.5 months in some remote place surviving on rice and worms, where my hair falls out in clumps while I lose 35 pounds...that's right up my alley! I have to make a 3 minute video with my application and was planning to make a clip next time I castrate....I think they'd pick me if I ate the testicles raw, don't you? While I was in the hospital, I asked my infectious disease doctor (who better to ask?) if it would be too dangerous to eat a raw testicle. After he recovered from the shock of the bizarre question, picked his jaw up off the floor and asked who's testicle I was interesting in eating...he strongly stated that he just couldn't give me permission to do that and that he certainly would not recommend it! NO LIABILITY ON HIS PART! It's probably because he is a young, city lad. He didn't even know what a rooster SPUR was! I am going to get a 3rd opinion because my OB/GYN doctor is a rancher, didn't seem to think it would be "that bad", as long as the knife and my hands were clean and it went straight from the "sack" to my mouth! I am still searching for the answer that I want! We will just have to see. With my knee like this, I am already having to miss some upcoming cattle work, so I guess it will just have to wait until we cut calves again next year! Hopefully by then, I would have found someone in the medical profession who would support my idea.

Dyke and I head to Cozumel (Mexico) this summer for 4 nights - a much needed escape from the rat race. I am so excited and his excitement is slowly growing...this is a humungo change for him...He is definitely not the tropical island, beach bum, drinking exotic drinks in coconut cups with little pink umbrellas type o' guy! Opportunity for change is good...right? I don't think I can get him to the coconut drink stage yet, but snorkeling and exploring the island might just work! His romantic get-away idea was to be dropped off by a bush plane in the most remote part of the Canadian Arctic to hunt off the land...and fight off the Grizzlies! I was up for it, but unfortunately, it isn't caribou season and with a bum leg, it might be a tad dangerous, so we put that idea on the back burner. Maybe next year...unless I have contracted "testiclitis" by then!

Well, hope all of you are living each day to its fullest! The gate is always open, so come visit for a spell! We love you!

MERRY MILLENNIUM TO ALL!! Christmas Chronicle 2000

Y2K. The end of life as we know seems that the anal compulsiveness hexed us all this time. After de-electrofying the house, gathering a collection of seeds from the open pollinated crops, installing a composting toilet, rigging a hand-pump on the water well and planting thorn bushes under each window as a passive defense to discourage any intruders, I wondered, before we withdrew our retirement funds, if we were taking this "KY thing" (as Dyke puts it...he was never too good with acronyms) too far. With close to 300 gallons of canned goat's milk, the nannies are a rare sight when a human is outside! The canned salmon and frogleg medley doesn't activate the salivary glands quite like it used to, but at times, when it is paired with powdered tomatoes, it seems to "hit the spot"! WHAT A PILE OF MALARCHY!! If you need a good belly laugh, tap Y2K into your favorite search engine and have at it! You won't believe what you're reading!

We are all fine and dandy down here on the Gulf Coast! Jake (8) continues to break through the academic ceiling with the A-honor roll in the 2nd grade. He aces his weekly spelling tests and we seldom study for them...go figure! His grandparents have already started his application process at Williams College! He grew 3.5 inches since last January and is closely resembling his Uncle Matt - tall and slender! He has been sporting a top row of green and blue braces to correct the overbite and gap. Jake is so adaptable to change (being the only one in 2nd grade with braces didn't phase him a bit). It is obvious who's blood courses through his veins! Each day he works on honing his art/writing/lego talents and really has a strong creative flair. He's entered a new self-awareness phase, where he's working hard to stay "cut" as he puts it. Lifting small weights, doing push-ups and sit-ups and working on that perfect 6-pack abdomen. Maybe this idea should be suppressed until he at least starts to shave. Any mention of "girls" sends him into a wild frenzy of wind-ups and punches! He is on his first ever Little League team and really likes it! He has improved drastically over the past couple of months! He has an awesome swing and a great arm! The coach wants to make him a pitching star - he can't believe his natural abilities at his young age!

Zacky (3.5) continues to break through and defy all forms of discipline and structure. He is 40 lbs of raw energy, gross motor skills to the max and shows promise of a lucrative career in football or stunt work. He will eat several servings of a meal, PLUS whatever is left on the plates or floor afterwards. He has no pain threshold what-so-ever and it is obvious who's blood courses through HIS veins. He possesses a strong sense of humor and can walk into a room and set it aglow with his facial expressions and comments! It is rare that he has more clothing on his body than just his underoos! The minute he gets home, he strips down to his skivies and spends the rest of the afternoon and evening donned in that attire. Where Jake savors the taste of a lollypop or other type of candy, Zacky pops it in his mouth and within the time it takes a lamb to shake it's tail twice, he has masticated it like a Cuisenart! Zacky is never far from his pop-gun or legos and big brother's creativity and leadership has really rubbed off on him. They both LOVE to draw and have really proven their fantastic talents! So, all in all, both boys are continuing to etch their own niche in life. Zacky's new claim to fame is being bitten by an alligator that Dyke brought home...his hand got just a bit too close. He is fine and it reminds us of how tough he is!

Dyke's skills and talents in dealing with the dregs of society drive his innerman, as he persues the lawless and unlawful. Whether he's running wide open, full-throttle across the bay at night in search of illegal shrimpers or chasing hog hunters and spotlighters, he is neck-high in his element and wouldn't give it up for a million dollars! I even got him to demonstrate and speak to my students about muzzleloading rifles/muskets as a guest speaker for our Revolutionary War unit in Social Studies. With all of this filling his days, he can even get home and get supper going before the boys and I get home. I guess I will keep him around...He is currently involved witht he intensive training of our new chocolate lab pup, Cash. If he would just break out of his shell and market himself, he could have a VERY profitable side job. It is amazing to watch his skills and patience with the trainee and the slow-but-sure training progress.

My teaching of 5th grade Social Studies/Science/Math couldnt' be better as I help to guide the young minds through passonate discussions of men and women's roles in Colonial America vs. the America that they know today. I try to focus on the extreme importance of education and the reality and freedom of being able to make their lives whatever they want to! We are even able to squeeze in a bit of math theory! Their electrical projects made it into the local newspaper's website as well as their dissection of fresh owl pellets. Having a good time learning is the only way to go! They love the democratic classroom and the power of student decision-making and not always teacher directed.

Working cattle for a local rancher is still and will ALWAYS be a part of my life as I strive to round up enough saddle time to keep me satisfied! My principal at school has been really great to allow me to take off now and then to "do the cattle thing". Ya' just can't beat the feel of running horseflesh across the open prairie or vaccinating and castrating cattle! Nuthin' like it!!!!!

Life on our semi-microlivestock farmette (Y2K politically correct description), is cranking right along. Feeding time is still at 5:30. The ark is full. Each nanny goat had 4 babies - I need to call Guiness Book of Records, as that is quite an uncommon occurence! Instant goat farm! Cash got 2 of them and another one was denied, so it was a blessing in disguise to end up with only 5 of them.

Before they had their quads, the boys and I had to rescue one of the mega-pregnant mamas from the alligator infested creek the other evening. Of course, Dyke was not home....again. She must have slipped in while foraging on its edge and with her immense weight and inflexibility, she couldn't get out on her own. It was low tide - so there was about a 4 foot drop-off from the bank to the water surface. I had to get in the creek and get the lariat around her front legs/chest and then Jake had to pull from the bank while I pushed at the rear. It turned out successful, with nightfall close, she would have never made it when the tide rose in the night. You could clearly see the relief in her big eyes, when she saw me and realized she was going to be ok.

The chickens are laying 4-5 eggs each day, so I sell the surplus at school.

The longhorns are still completely clueless as to how good they have it. The 5 ring-neck pheasants are in full plumage and when the light hits the males, the brilliant purples, blues and greens just shimmer like sequins. They are laying now and with our incubation process, we have hatched 3 pheasants to date. We are down to only 13 turkeys. They all flew to the other side of the creek one afternoon and didn't return that night. The next day all returned, but one. The coyotes howled from that side of the creek that night, so it's pretty clear as to what happened. Turkeys are hatching as we speak. We get about 3 turkey and 3 pheasant eggs each day, so Dyke better get out there and build some more pens! At this rate, we will be overrun with birds... I am going to get my game breeder's license and try to start a mini-hatchery...I am pretty sure the Vietnamese/Spanish people in town will be regular customers...

We continue to board Tinkerbell, Dyke's partner's horse. She is very sweet and I have been giving Jake a few lessons her and there. Don't have a child's saddle, so that makes it tough, but he loves it anyway and is doing very well. Carrying the saddle is the hardest part of the whole thing for him!

We are no longer the only ones in the modern world without an internet capable computer! Life on the internet (especially Ebay) has been an unsatiable journey. To have total access to anything in this world, as we sit comfortably in our home, is far beyond my comprehension! All of you who are technologically ahead of us, let us hear from you over the wires.

Well, it seems as if there isn't enought time in each day to enjoy everything that God has blessed us with. With the retirement of my parents, we are hoping that will allow for more time together; the 3 weeks at Christmas was just the beginning. The Williams College pool will be named for my father during a 3-day celebration blow-out in May!!!

Dyke's mother and brother have both relocated back up to the country where they started out - on the Red River. Luett is a game warden and Connie works for an insurance company. Who knows, maybe one day we will all be back up there.

Well, I will close for now. We hope and pray that everyone is doing well in this new millennium. Let us hear from you. We love you all! I pray that God richly blesses each and every one of your days!


Hey Y'all,

Well, it's that time again...Christmas has come and gone, it's the new year and Valentine's Day has even passed...I guess it's time to send out our infamously late Christmas Card.(The one that Dyke calls, PROPAGANDA!) We loved receiving all of the "on time" holiday cards and photos...Thanks for showing me up, guys!
Let's see, what has happened in the last year...Jake and Zack are sprouting up like weeds. Jake is in the first grade and is soing very well (takes after his mother). He presently lacks his two top front teeth, one of which his father tied floss to on one end and a heavy object on the other. By merely dropping the object, PRESTO-CHANGO...the tooth hit the carpet! Weekly spelling tests and reading tests keep us very busy. When his father helps him with his lessons, any misspellings warrant 5 push-ups per word. He has quickly learned to remember the spellings, however, he IS the only 6 year old I know that can do 20 good push-ups without stopping!! Either way, he benefits;stronger muscles or stronger memory! His free time is consumed with legos, bike riding, wittling, drawing, playing with his brother and playing ball with his dad. Jake and Zack are close and USUALLY enjoy each other very much! Jake's eagerness to please, fills him with a very sweet aura and it saturates those around him. Our shining star!!

Zack's polarities, at times, don't compare to the "angelicness" of his big brother. At 2 1/2 he continuously keeps us on our toes. Built like a Hummer, he is a near DNA clone of his father. Strong willed, independent, with no pain threshold and always parroting his brother. Zack has pleasantly chiseled out his place in life. He likes his school and the friends he has bonded with, but everyday, I wonder how he has been when I pull up to the school...His response to most everything he is told is, "Yes, Ma'am", but somedays that is just a facade. From biting the teacher on the bottom, kicking 2 girls in the eye at naptime, and tearing away skin on the hand of a fellow student...he has had his share of timeouts! Some days are better than others, and every morning that he is dropped off, we "conference" before I leave, talking about how Zacky is going to be a good boy, take his nap and be nice to his friends. Of course he replies, "Yes Ma'am". He is quickly learning how to say what you want to hear...The priviledge of an evening bubblebath and a story comes in handy as leverage! Mmmmmm...what will I use when he hits Jr. High? It is amazing how different and alike 2 siblings can be! He's not as bad as he sounds and can be a real comedian, reducing all of us to deep belly laughter! Our shooting star!

Dyke is well and stays busy on the land and sea, trying to uphold the law in what seems like a losing battle. Things are pretty quiet during this time of year for him. The boys love to be with their "Deeds" as they call him! Shooting bows, playing ball, working in the garden, shredding on the tractor or riding the 3 wheeler. On one such adventure, Dyke was left in charge while I went to a meeting in town. They decided to ride the 3 wheeler down to the creek to look for alligators. Upon seeing a couple of them under the brush of the overhanging bushes along the creek, he put the 3 wheeler in what he thought was reverse. When he gave it the throttle, he immediately knew the truth. The three of them were shot off the bank into the murkiness. Before making contact with the water, Dyke threw Zacky away from the ATV, not wanting it to turn over on him, pinning him under the water. Jake already knew how to swim. When Dyke and Jake surfaced, Zack was no where to be seen! Frantically, Dyke turned and scanned the surface behind him and spotted Zack, trying desperately to keep his head above water. They all made it safely and quickly to the bank to safety...There were many angels that day and it is God to whom we give our greatest praises.

Teaching is going very well this year. I created a neat opportunity where my kids are involved in an "ASK AN EXPERT" program. They can go on-line to ask experts in any given field, questions that they may have on topics from entomology to physics. They love receiving their answer via the computer and it has broadened their perception of what type of jobs are out there. As a new addition to our science curriculum, I had a former chemistry teacher from the high school, teach them the beginnings of the periodic table of elements and atomic structures. It really added to our discussions of energy nad electricity and prepared them for future science classes. We are even having an "energy project day" where they make something that is powered by some form of energy. They have chosen ideas from burgular alarms to a bicycle powered oven. We will see how it turns out! I began teaching square dancing (sparked by the fun that I used to have on Friday nights in Tin Cup, Colorado) to interested 5th graders. We scheduled a spot in the anual 5th grade music program. Our practicing finally paid off in February when they performed in the show. It was a total of 40 kids (boys and girls)...enough for 5 complete squares...dancing to Garth Brooks' Calling Baton Rouge. It was a HIT and the kids had a blast swinging their stuff!

Working cattle for a local rancher is still a big part of my time away from school, when I can get away. I just worked 250 cows and 160 calves in February (see the newspaper clipping at the top). I am due to work again in May. I just can't seem to get enough!! My heart will ALWAYS be in the saddle!

I have added 2 longhorns: T-Bone and Sloppy Joe - to our menagerie. Coming from the local sale barn as 350 lb. bull calves, Dyke roped and held them while I did the castration/vaccination and antibiotic injections. Everything "pulled through" just fine and they have become spoiled 600 lb. babies! They don't know how good they have it! They are rather docile and eat their share of sweet feed every evening at 5:00.

We are presently boarding a mare for Dyke's partner's wife. She is a sweet horse, but needs ALOT of work!

We incubated and hatched 4 duckling eggs that we gathered from around the edge of the pond. The babies are now happily paddling with the others - 10 ducks total!

Several red-tailed hawks have preyed on our pen of 15 chickens, so we are down to 3 now, with basically no egg production! I think the hawks scared them so badly that they'll never lay again! Even when I stretched a big shrimp net over the top of the pen to keep them from getting in, they found a way in!

We hatched 17 guineas last summer and over a 3 day period, all but 1 disappeared...(The lone survivor now hangs out with the 3 misfit hens.)

A wild cat took 2 of our young cats, leaving the 2 older, battle scarred ones behind.

The goats are doing well and love to roam free during the day.

So...Noah's Ark has been somewhat pillaged, but with the Spring coming, we hope to make up for the losses.

We are getting a lab puppy soon. Her name will be SKEET (short for mosquito). Dixie is remarkably well for her 11 years and I know she will just "love" a bouncing, biting puppy to keep her quiet days from being quiet! Hope all is well with everyone. Stay in touch and remember the gate's always open! God Bless!