Calling Hot Rod Cowgirl…Come In Please…

Calling Hot Rod Cowgirl…Come In Please…Can You Copy Good Buddy? Where Are you?

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I’m here…I’m here! Life has me sidetracked and time is stuck in warp drive…propelling me into some alternative universe…a universe that I have never seen before….a universe like no other…its been a month since I blah blah blogged you…Holy Cow!

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I must be in “Another dimension…a dimension of sound…a dimension of sight…a dimension of mind.

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A journey into a wondrous land of imagination called the Twilight Zone” to not be blah blah-ing you about something!!!

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My hubby WB, had surgery mid-September that was not planned…it was another dimension called medical surgery which was over 5 hours long…a long time to wait for Ms. Worry Wart here! I hoped and prayed all would go well and it did:)

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I’m still a bit tangled up from worry but WB is already making a full recovery and will be good as new:) Having our loved ones go through medical issues is one of the hardest and scariest parts of this life we all lead.

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And summer flew by faster this year…I could not believe how fast time flew! The only way to show you our summer is to invite you to hop in and fasten your seat belts…you can hang on tight to the OS handle…and we’ll do a quick recap via pictures that I captured of the summer of 2014!

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Getting ready for the cameras…three professional videos were filmed at HSL this summer of several vehicles that we built.

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Lots of special beauties in this line up!

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WB was giving me the stink-eye as I told him he missed a spot…on my car:)

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And here comes Camera #1…

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Are we good to go Nathan?

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Stay tuned as the videos are currently in production with Chris and Corbin at CAPPS Broadcasting with the hope to have the first one done in the next few weeks! I’ll keep you posted!

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And before we move on…Thank You Chris and Corbin for believing in us and taking the time to see for yourself what Holton Secret Lab is about! CAPPS Broadcasting ROCKS!

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And then July blew in with hot hot hot temperatures! As I captured this shot, a flock of birds took off…they look like dots in the photo as it was taken a long distance away. I need to shop for a telephoto zoom lens as I often have many of our native birds show up in my photos…it’s always cool to see them take flight.

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Two weather fronts moved into the NW from different abnormal directions just as we were getting into July…they collided, creating some crazy weather leading us into record-breaking heat in July and August, triple digit temperatures lasting for weeks. Not only did we have the heat, we had nightly lightning shows and clouds that were unusual…which was great for obsessive camera girl!

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A few minutes after the first shot above, only from a different direction…you can see the layers of clouds and the two different fronts…it was all very odd to see the fronts, the massive clouds and the weather!

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We had fire in the skies from wildfires all over the West, as summer went into hyper-drive with record-breaking heat and seriously dry conditions with low humidity, which is fire weather conditions. Having lived here forever, I have never felt heat like we had this summer. It was like a hot blow torch each time you stepped out the door.

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Just as summer was heating up, good friends Kevin and Pat with their huge fifth wheel, came to help us with our patio…it was a large project to take on and was not easy to complete! The “Best” part was having old friends here to share the laughs while making new memories together…38 years of friendship is very cool! BTW Kev and Pat know how to do retirement right…they left here the end of August headed for parts unknown and a memorable adventure!

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Weird weather continued with skies gone crazy, bringing many great photo ops…

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Fire in the sky…this small cloud in the midst of the mega gray clouds was odd as the sundown colors hit it just right and was a fun capture!

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With crazy clouds, weird weather and spectacular storms my summer was busy with my camera! I would head outside to relax for the evening…only to be muttering “dang” under my breath as I tried to ignore the odd clouds, lasting only seconds before I had my camera back in my hand again, shooting wild sky pictures overhead…it was an incredible summer!

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Always with breathtaking beauty…and as I end this post…remember,

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I’m riding hard for the Cure! Saddle up and ride with me declaring war on breast cancer! Lets ride and declare war on all cancers!

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Yip-Yip-Yee-Haw And Hallelujah!!!

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Have a peaceful evening wherever you are! I am over and out for now…but not for this long!

Calling Sky Pilot…Weather Alert…Weather Alert!

Calling Sky Pilot…Weather Alert…Weather Alert…Calling Sky Pilot…Come In Please?

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This post is about weather and clouds as we have had very unusual weather here the last few years and some of it has been extreme. This is for my cloud loving subscribers…enjoy and enjoy…as these are only the tip of the iceberg!

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The photo above of the clouds was going over the house and my head…I stepped off the patio to shoot it. Kind of a WOWSERS to look up and see this or any of the storms!

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This storm showed up around 1:00pm on an afternoon in June with several individual storms….some were dropping…some were rotating and most were quite ominous!

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And then there is this…amazing to see thunder heads and clouds of this size with all the varied colors…odd beauty on camera!

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I have to include my twist and shout clouds too!

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And the rumple bumple clouds…

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Hello…Tokyo Oklahoma?

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Uh…welllll…this formation was interesting?

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And God came in with His paint brush and fluffed…then stroked the clouds a bit

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With Kingdom light and a lot of might!

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And with that said God Night…remember He always has the night shift:)

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Yee-Ha! Today is the 3rd Anniversary for HRCG!

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Thank you to my subscribers and followers….from the ever present writer and newbie photographer who sends you much thankfulness and appreciation for your support!

In The Blink Of An Eye…

In the blink of an eye…life can forever change.

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Life seconds and blink moments can knock us off our feet, with either good or bad surprises…I usually blink a few times while digging my heels in to either celebrate the good or to fight the bad…we can never give up! As I often heard growing up, “Go catch up your horse, saddle up and be ready to ride hard!”

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June 12th was a warm summer day and Ellie our Aussie pup (she is looking at me with her sweet Ellie look) was going to have her first birthday! We were so excited for her and wanted to help her celebrate with lots of love and fun Ellie style!

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However, we had an appointment to go to in the big metropolis that we live close to…and we also needed to do some much needed shopping…we would be home later that day to celebrate operation EB!  (EB is short for Ellie Belle:)

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We left early that morning heading to the city…Costco had been sending out telepathic message waves to me to come shop the new stuff…as well as various stores we like to shop…like Ranch and Home…Home Depot…the Mall…Yippppeeee!

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After months of doing without…it is very serious and labor intensive for the country cowgirl to shop ALL the stores she wants to shop in a couple of hours! I keep telling WB we need to spend a night when we do this…he replies with a grrrunt!

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It was a sunny and warm day with lots of promise for fun…we laughed and talked about what we needed to do as far as shopping.

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We knew we had to find our Ellie girl some awesome new chew toys for her first birthday. We shopped some here and there, ate lunch and ended up with Sadie Suburban packed brim full after Costco…and the day was gone!

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It was after 6:00pm when we had the Costco groceries loaded…would have loved staying for dinner but we had a birthday to celebrate! Our little country cowgirl was waiting and she depended on us to bring her home a few fun toys, with lots of love and lots of fun treats!

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Did you know that Schwan’s Ice Cream has Doggie Sundaes as in ice cream flavored like meat? Well they do and Ms. Ellie had hers for her birthday celebration! She loved it!

OK back to driving home.

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By the time we pulled onto the freeway the winds were blowing and picking up to 30 to 40 mph, we had heard on the news that morning that late in the afternoon we would have heavy winds. I mentioned to WB that wind and dust storms often delivered conditions just right for wrecks on this freeway. Thankfully the dust was not blowing yet as we could see quite a ways and it was still light.

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Less than 5 minutes later we went by an exit that had several trucks and cars merging into our part of the freeway….we were in the left passing lane as the traffic was merging into the freeway in the right lane…and then…like a nightmare, a Honda Minivan was jetting across the lanes trying to avoid being behind the semi-truck we were passing in the left lane…

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The driver was trying to cut into our lane but there was no room between us and the semi and yet, he kept coming towards us like he was trying to push us off the road, by merging into us.

Precious Life Seconds Passed…

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WB kept his cool and kept steady on the wheel…I braced for the wreck as the van came so very close…close enough that our mirrors almost hit!

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I was certain he was going to hit us full force into the side of the Suburban in front of my door…WB laid on the horn and by the grace of God we were spared. It was very serious and very close…the worst close call that I have ever been in as far as close wrecks.

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I thank God for my husband as he kept a cool head…he has always been a good driver. If the van had hit us we would have spun out…ending up between the van and the semi along with many cars behind us or rolling.

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Neither of us said a thing or emitted a sound during those eternal seconds of life…we both knew how close we came!

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Thankfully God made a way for us to survive. I hope the van driver learned a lesson on driving and how life can change quickly with impatient hot-headed driving!

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Meanwhile, Ellie Belle had a Happy 1st Birthday!

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She is so very cute…she is our kid and we love her lots!

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And I leave you with this as I love it…it is so very true…amen!

Yee-Haw! Blah Blah Days!

Yee-Haw! Blah blah days of gray have descended once again on us in Juniper Canyon.

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Almost every winter we have a couple of weeks of blahsay gray skies with fog that drifts in and drifts out.

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“Oh Mr. Sun where are you…Hello Blue Sky? Where have the two of you gone?” I bet they hooked up and went to Hawaii…I don’t blame them but “Hey…come back puhlease!”

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And with dingy gray skies devoid of character or shadows, what do you take pictures of?

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Maybe God made foggy gray days for us to know that we will go through gray times in life but blue skies are coming…hang on and trust…as the gray will disappear!

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And then…the sun shines for a few hours…Halleluaia! I LOVE seeing blue instead of gray!

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WB heard me whimpering about no blue skies, so he gave me something to do that I enjoy:)

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WB restores customer vehicles and he just finished this 1949 Chevrolet one ton pick up…the customer’s father purchased the pick up in 1949. Note: It is very rare as it is a one ton!

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A photo shoot was just what I needed, as on gray days, photos pop and photo shoots are awesome as the camera captures the shadows, the depth, the funky fun shots, with no glare, and no fade out of color etc.

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We need rain in the Pacific Northwest…we need it bad. We are way below what is the normal crop year moisture…the mountains do not have their usual snow pack and next summer will be very dry…I’m praying for good rains, nice gentle rains and some occasional snow here with a good snow pack in the mountains!

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Summer is coming sooner than we think with beautiful skies and flowers galore that are pretty in pink…hopefully with gentle spring rains and epic summer storms! Hang on tight as soon it will be a warm summer night full of country delight!

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Life Is Good! In Fact It Rocks! 8 Years Strong!!!

How often do you capture a photo of a yellow striped kitty named Morris walking across the back of our “Cat” and he is right above Caterpillar? Perfecto! Morris is a very cool cat!!!

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Have a warm comfy night wherever you are and a Totally Terrific Thursday!

HAPPY 4th OF JULY AMERICA!!! HOLY COW!!! WE HAVE HAD RECORD HOT TEMPS!!!

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Happy 4th of July America…and to all of you!!!

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God Bless America!

I use the top photo often as it is by far my favorite flag picture…seeing our flag flying full, proud and free, on a horse that is flying proud and free, always takes my breath away!!! Happy 4th of July America…I hope you are celebrating with your families and with America today as we stop once again to wish our glorious country Happy Birthday! Now where is that cake? I want the frosting….

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Holy Cow!  We have had record hot temps with abnormally hotter than hot summer days and nights the last few weeks, it was 85 degrees outside at 11:30 at night. We climbed into the 108-110 degree range daily, for over a week and the humidity was incredibly stellar…we usually do not get much humidity here as we are in a dry climate area…however, this last week day or night it was humid. It was hard to breathe as the air was so heavy and hot. We have had a dry furnace breeze blowing since last Saturday all day long until sundown hits and then it quits and the hot humid air just hangs…suffocating and nasty hot.

I love saying “Holy Cow” as it reminds me of my Dad, who said it often and taught me the same:)

Last Tuesday and Wednesday night our bedroom was 90 degrees with 90% humidity…no air was moving outside, not even a fresh Juniper Canyon breeze blowing up the canyon drifting over us, cooling off our bedroom so we could sleep…it was dead calm and weirdly quiet outside. The crickets were not crickiting…is that a word? All I would occasionally hear was the annoying bull frog and he was not doing his usual hyped up over himself 8 second ribbits.  Most nights it would finally cool down to 75 degrees about 3:00 am, which is still very hot for us and for the nocturnal coyotes, owls and our deer, and all the various animals outside.

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With the hot temps the wheat is drying out and turning a golden amber color with a touch of burnt red. It is one of my favorite colors and I use it through out my house. Our landscape has turned from green grasses and weeds into dry fuel that would burn easy with a lightning strike. Both our barn cats have moved down from the hay loft to the cement aisle floors as it is cooler down there yet and close to their cold automatic water trough.

Two weeks ago it was 55-60 degrees…cloudy…windy…rainy…chilly! That was kind of weird for here too but we needed the rain so while I complained that I was tired of gray skies and tired of being chilly…the rain was welcome. We try to be tough and sleep in our bedroom every summer but I have an idea that we will be getting that new A/C unit installed this year specifically for our bedroom. We used to not mind the heat up here but the last years we have gotten spoiled by the air on the main floor and our basement floor.

Farmers utilize a team of 14 draft animals to harvest wheat.

As I mentally turn back the clock to the 1920′s through the 1990′s when we did not have air conditioning anywhere in the house….we survived and managed. My great-grandmother Anne Marie would probably tsk tsk me for being too hot and tell me to be a big girl now. It fits with the society we live in now…we feel we have to have all the conveniences to comfort us…but I know we can survive grumpily without them:) However…hmmm…when it is 85 degrees at night and a 110 during the day…we need lots of nice cool air to cool us off to sleep at night!

My hubby is from the southeast corner of the state…so was my Mom. We read in the paper today how the ranchers and farmers are struggling with drought conditions caused by not receiving adequate rain for several years. In turn this has caused the reservoirs to dry up. For the cattle rancher who depends on the water for the health of his livestock, and for their survival out on the high desert, many of the century old ranches have only one choice left and that is to sell off their herd or a large part of it. The price of hay will be prohibitive, if they can find it, and the cattle have to have water. I have ridden horseback out to gather cattle on the high desert between Jordan Valley and the base of the Steens and there is not much feed out there under normal circumstances. Today, I would imagine it looks pretty barren and very dry as far as the eye can see. The BLM is hauling water to the various animals of the high desert, the wild mustangs, the pronghorn antelope and etc.

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The green-gold irrigation that has fed the farmers ever since the irrigation was developed and run by the BLM is running out of water too.  If the farmer runs out of water to irrigate his crops, he can not grow his crops, including the hay crops to sell to the cattle ranchers to feed their cattle. The massive Owyhee Reservoir that we have boated on for years, will drop to a third full by August…the lowest it has been on record since it was created in the early 1930′s. That is incredible as this damn is 55 miles long and 450′ deep at the Glory Hole. Hearing of the Owyhee Reservoir being low, means dire circumstances, as the farmers and ranchers have relied on growing several crops per year to support their families and the world.

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They can not grow their crops without water, and if the ranchers can not water their cattle or feed them, then they have no choice but to sell their livestock, which puts their lifestyle at risk. When the family ranch is passed on to you by the generations before you, and during your watch, a historic drought happens that may cause you to sell off your cattle and your land with all the heritage that was passed on to you, you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. When your blood is flowing in the land down deep and you can touch the very earth that was homesteaded for you, you can feel the heritage that runs through your veins…it never goes away. I saw this first hand on some of the huge ranches we managed for the new owners…it was heartbreaking to watch the previous owners pack up their heritage and history. In my own way, I felt their pain and I understood. When I ride my horse out into the fields around us here, and I sit quietly, closing my eyes, I can hear the distant teams of horses plowing the dirt that I am currently standing on,  I can hear the long ago voices of the past and I know it is my Grandfather and his brothers…the echos of my heritage come to life in my heart for a few moments in a brief time warp……

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This last week there are fires on the Owyhee that have burned 44,000 since a lightning storm moved through the area on July 2. The BLM reports as I write this, the fire is 50% contained and under control.

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Due to the dry conditions during the summer of 2012, a million acres or 1500 square miles, burned in Malheur and Harney Country, from dry fuel and dry lightning. This year 33 square miles have already burned from dry fuel and lightning. And new fires broke out Sunday night in a very remote rugged area. The drought has brought the Treasure Valley to a halt, which is unheard of as the irrigated farms around the valley were prosperous and raised incredible crops. We have miles and miles of dry land wheat acres here to support our farms…learning about irrigation from WB, as he grew up with it and knows it well, shook this dry Eastern Oregon Cowgirl up a bit as I had no idea that a mere farm of a 100 acres could do better than we could with 1000′s of acres! The drought of 2013 has placed both the farmers and ranchers in a precarious place, they need assistance, rain after rain storm and they need grazing land to feed their cattle, such as CRP, while the farmer need water to grow their crops.

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My heart goes out to them…and to the desperation they must feel. The ranching and farming families that work the land depend on God and the weather, are a tough bunch, they have lots of strength and moxie and I am praying that God gives them even more strength and moxie right now to hang on and keep going…remember them in your prayers. It is not an easy life to live, this cowboying, cattle ranching life we have lived…it’s a rough and tough life. It’s not an easy life for the farmers either, who break up the soil, planting a tiny little seed in the dirt, while praying and trusting hard for the right amount of rain and good weather to bring it to fruition. Working long hours from sun up to well after dark, farm families work together to bring in the crop, and often the farm wife is serving up a late harvest meal at 10:00 at night, due to a break down right at quitting time. Tired or not the repair had to be figured out and fixed, so harvest would not be delayed the next morning, before heading home for dinner. I remember doing dishes by hand, drying them and putting them back into the cupboard at midnight, before I went to bed, so I would be organized to cook an early breakfast four hours later for my family.

As I write this, our temp today is 90 degrees and has cooled off some, but the air conditioner is still on. Our cool weather will last over the weekend but not for long as we are to have another high pressure system move in by Sunday and hotter than normal temps will return…and where is the phone number for the air conditioner business who can install air for our room? I am not sure why the weather is changing so much…but it is. The patterns we are in currently, are not what I remember as a kid here and certainly not what WB remembers in Vale where he grew up. It will affect all of us one way or another as our food supply will drop and the price of groceries will rise due to lack of produce…and no the price does not go to the farmer.  The drought will destroy some of the family farms and ranches which to me, is very sad as these agricultural based families have been growing food to feed the nation for over a 100 years and now their land is drying up, their cattle can not survive, the irrigated row crops will begin to dwindle, if they haven’t already. Their lives and livelihood are at stake and times are tough, but if anyone can get through this, it is the American Farmer and the American Livestock Rancher. We do know how to dig deep…and carry on with determination and courage…and I applaud them!

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Tonight as we celebrate our great nation’s birthday, remember our military and their families…and pray for America! Enjoy the fireworks…we do not do that part as we have to be careful of fire here. Eat lots of good food, we do that part:) Enjoy the company of your family and friends! Together we stand one nation under God with liberty and justice for all! God Bless The United States of America!

Days Of Our Lives Drifting Through My Mind…

Days of our lives drifting through my mind…life is forever…right? Our lives were running out of time with only seconds left…run…run from what? Wait…what? RUN NOW!

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Looking back now, the images seem almost surreal. Everything that happened to us, happened in a matter of seconds. We were all players, fulfilling our roles in this real life and death drama…only it was our life and death drama and it was very real. We survived the unusual flash flood, the timing of us all being together was a blessing from above. The flood went down in history due to the massive amount of water and debris, calling it a historic 100 year flash flood.

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This post is a bit different as it picks up where the last one left off but I have added more photos of the flood’s destruction. I will tell part of the story and add a picture, describing what the picture is…hopefully you will be able to follow along as I pick up the story where we left off.

As soon as son Greg went out to see what Mike was talking to Wild Bill about, Travis and I began searching for the fuse box as our power was surging, and we worried about our computer and the microwave. We located it in the center of the house, at the base of the stairs, and we were discussing which was the main switch, when we heard Wild Bill yelling at us, something about “Get out of the house NOW!” For maybe half a second we looked at each other and Travis asked me if I knew what Dad said? I said no but whatever Dad said it is serious and we have to get out of the house as fast as we can!

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As we ran back through the house to the mud room, we grabbed our boots and ran down the long hallway into the garage, finally making it outside, running in our socks which were now wet and muddy. The above photo is the flood damage to the back of the garage we ran out of…as the flood hit the garage less than 15 seconds after we ran out…blowing the back out. Wild Bill was frantic as he yelled for us to “HURRY UP”, the pick up with WB, Mike and Greg was about 50′ away from Travis and I. Mike was in the driver’s seat of the pick up with it in reverse, Greg was on the flatbed of the pick up and WB was at the passenger door waving his arms and yelling for us to run! The moment was total chaos.

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Wild Bill had seen a wall of water, coming directly towards us…150 yards from the house…he figured we had seconds to escape sudden death. The only reason that our RV Trailer and my pick up Della did not float away was an abandoned satellite pole that wedged them up against the garage. You can see the same hole in the back of the garage…seconds mattered for all of us to survive. The amount of debris in the flood waters was as deadly as the water was.

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I remember running and feeling the pain in my stomach and the rocks under my wet and muddy feet, with Travis running beside me and the panic we felt. I saw the fear in Wild Bill and Mike…I still had no idea what was wrong. I just knew it was a life and death situation. Finally we made it to the truck, which was parked about where the red three-wheeler is in the picture above. Mike already had the truck in reverse and was moving it as we reached them, Bill was yelling at Mike to not leave us. Travis bailed on the back of the truck with Greg, and I bailed into the front seat between Mike and WB. In the split second that I bailed into the truck, I saw what we were all running from. It was the most horrible sight I had ever seen! A wall of water rolling towards us that was huge, muddy and very wide, in a blink of a second it was now bearing down on us…hitting the front of the pick up as we were backing up and out of the way. In one more frantic effort, Wild Bill tried to reach for our puppy Hank. He was right by the door of the pick up…Bill missed and I figured I would never see Hank again as I choked back tears.

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In the above picture, the ranch had a full set of working corrals, built to last using railroad posts set in concrete to anchor them into the ground…the power of the water not only took the railroad posts but also the concrete. There was a concrete runway poured and built for the cattle to go through and it was gone too…all the concrete was scrubbed off the face of the earth and only deep muddy mud and debris was left.

Mike kept backing the pick up until we were up above the water in the hay stack area, just above the road. He slammed on the brakes and we all just sat there watching this massive wall of water engulf everything on the ranch before our eyes. I don’t know how long we sat there in silence…we eventually got out of the pick up and stood there watching the horror of it all. I remember trying to pull on my boots over wet socks…I was in a panic. There are two kinds of panic…one is the panic that you react and do something…but this was a panic that you felt frozen in, unable to do anything.

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In the above picture you can see our white four horse trailer, the red and yellow bale wagon, our flatbed trailer with my horse walker on it…WB’s welding trailers…balers and lots of expensive equipment. None of it was parked out there when the flood hit…all the equipment was parked at either the shop or the house about a 1/2 to 1/4 mile away.

The raging water looked as wide as the Columbia River. It was a torrent of water, that bubbled and boiled over everything in its path. It was deep and was moving very swift. The sound was a deafening roar…and it kept coming and coming. It appeared to be about 200′ feet wide and 8-12′ feet deep. We saw the D-5 Caterpillar tractor with the blade parked down into the gravel, come bobbing out of the equipment shed, floating along with all the other equipment…bale wagons, balers, pick ups, horsetrailers, welders, welders on trailers, and trucks, the water kept coming and sweeping everything away in front of us. The Caterpillar floated/bobbed along about 20 yards…with the water going underneath it…moving it and then dropping it. I saw the horses behind the equipment shed go under the water as the water went over the top of the shop roof…I saw the five yearlings next to our house get tossed away with the powder river steel panels…they were gone along with several other young horses in the corrals behind the yearlings. When the water hit them, it hit so hard that it swept the horses upstream…up the Crooked River.

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The house would be to the left of this photo…where you see the green grass with the yellow tin etc. next to it is where we set up the individual horse stalls with our steel panels, for the 5 yearlings that I was working with. When the force of the flood hit…the yearlings in the 5 paneled stalls, and the other horses in the corrals behind them vanished…I did not know if they would swim out or if they would be lost.

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Then we noticed the big 50′ by 50′ barn was gone, none of us saw it go down…it was completely disintegrated. All the vehicles were floating, our crew cab flatbed one ton pick up was floating and our crew cab one ton dually was floating with it….our four horse horsetrailer was gone already and on the way to the Crooked River. The water washed one of the Freightliner semi trucks some 200 yards and it took the bale wagon, flatbed trailers, welding trailers, balers, tractors, the huge cattle trailer…everything on that ranch either moved or disintegrated. Three 500 gallon barrels filled with fuel were tossed about like they were empty….

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The entire corral system was gone…cement foundation and all. The two chutes that were set in concrete…were gone like it had never been there before. The force of the water wrapped the powder river steel panels around the harrow bed…if you are not familiar with powder river or noble steel panels, these are heavy-duty steel panels and gates made out of steel, the water was so powerful, the force of it bent the panels around various things like toothpicks. We watched as the ranch owner’s 12′ by 24′ tack room, that was built on skids, float away….finally coming to rest on the banks of the Crooked River…a good half mile from its original place.

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I was worried that the house would go anytime. It was a 100 year old house that was not built on a foundation. It was now surrounded by swirling, deep, muddy raging water. If the house goes we loose everything….all our family heritage…our life of photos and special things that made us a family and made us who we are. And our kitty cats Zoo and Morris and puppy Hank…they were part of us too.

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By now every horse I was taking care of was unaccounted for, about 16 horses, except the two we owned. They were in the pasture next to the house and the road was between us…I could not reach them as the road was on lower ground and under water…they kept moving closer to us as they were belly deep in the water now. They were looking and searching out of instinct for higher ground but it was nowhere to be found. It was so very hard to be so close to them and yet so far away. My mare Lottie just kind of took it in stride as to what was happening but Bill’s horse Odie was younger and was trying to fight the water…he kept spinning around in it until finally he settled down with my mare and they found a high corner close to us that gave them higher ground with more security and comfort being closer to us.

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None of us said to much…the water was making a roar and was hard to talk over. I was crying quietly, as it seemed like the end of the world had come and we were all alone, nothing made any sense. With as much water that we were seeing, we thought that one of our water reservoirs had broken up-country above the main ranch…as we had not received much rain. The fear we were all feeling now was that if the reservoir had broken, the young family that worked on the ranch lived right below it, and would be in grave trouble, as they had two small children. And the young couple breaking the polo horses staying above us at the Red House…all we knew at that point was that we had alot of deep water hit us and there were people above us that likely had been hit with it too. At that time the water over the main road was over 3′ deep and we could not get up-country to check on them yet.

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I don’t know how long we stood there trying to figure out what to do. After about an hour or so, the water receded enough that Bill and Mike decided to go back over to the house to check on things. I was not in favor of them going because the water was still mid-thigh deep. I don’t know why they went, I think it was because they had to do something and not just stand by. The boys and I waited, I don’t think we said much as there were no words to say.

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By now there were many neighbors and people gathered out on the main highway watching, I knew they wanted to help us but they couldn’t get up to where we were because the road was still covered with water. I remember how I wished I could get a message to them to get someone up in a plane to fly up-country to check on the people up there. I felt numb and cold, afraid and in shock, panicked and so deeply mortified by what I had seen. I realized then that we were very lucky to have gotten out of harms way. Things were crazy around me but for that one small moment, I was very thankful that my family was safe and we were alive.

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This is the D5 Caterpillar we saw bobbing in the flood waters bouncing and dancing out of the shop, when it was parked with the blade down in the gravel. This tractor is huge and gives you an idea of how forceful the flood waters were.

WB and Mile came back after a few minutes. They said the house appeared to be alright, but the water had blown a hole through the cement wall in the garage…the garage and mud room were under water and mud…and the front porch was full of mud. The only thing that saved the house from going down was the various pieces of equipment that had washed up against it…balers, tractors, shop equipment, trailers…and lots of shrubs.

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The large stock trailer hooked on to the red semi, to the left of the picture, had been carried with the flood water into the front of the house where it wedged itself and diverted the water splitting in two directions instead of the water hitting the house full on, as with no foundation the water hitting the house with full on force would have brought it down.

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Bill found Hank, our puppy, who was floating on a pile of debris scared to death…but safe! Kalamazoo was okay and so was Greg’s cat Morris! This picture was taken about three months after the flood…both pick ups were back on the road and good as new…thankfully we had insurance and WB knew how to clean them up and replace what needed to be replaced.

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The deck at the back of the house…can you see those tiny marigolds in my old Hitachi pot that was my Mom’s…despite the destruction…horror and grief…those flowers survived…they had not moved either as that was where I placed them the day before the flood. Seeing the flowers in the chaos gave me strength and hope that even though our lives were in chaos we would get through this flood just like those beautiful flowers.

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We found some of our steel panels…many we never saw again and some were beyond saving as they were twisted into an unrecognizable object. As you can see we had mud and debris to clean up for months…and then rebuild the ranch…fences, barns, corrals, irrigation lines etc. and bring new life into the painful memories of a 100 year flash flood.

The only loss of life was the young man who was passing through with his fiance’ for a few days of rest and also training on some polo horses from S. California. Like us, he was caught off guard when the water hit and he tied himself to a pole fence with his rope in order to swim/walk out in the water to reach three of the horses trapped on an island in the middle of the raging flood water. He was able to reach the three horses on the island and had got on one of them when the fence broke due to the force of the water and that was the last he and his horse were seen. The other two horses swam out and were okay. It was very hard on all of us but especially his fiance’ and his family…he gave his life in the true cowboy way by thinking of his horses before himself…he did not know the power of the water and tried his best and gave his all.

To be continued with the final chapter…

I’m Gonna Climb That Mountain High…I’m Gonna See What’s On The Other Side!

Climbing that mountain high took a few months of packing our lives up for the move of a lifetime! Moving from our home here to a new home 300 miles away was a huge undertaking…not only did I pack my entire life…I also packed memories and dealt with many mixed emotions. Never living far from home before, created a traumatic journey at times and yet…it was a wild at heart chapter of pure adrenaline in our spirits! Relocating our life by moving to an area, rich in cowboy culture and steeped in buckaroo tradition, was an exciting opportunity, as we would be managing a large 35,000 acre cattle ranch, doing something we both loved and knew how to do. We had many new adventures planned ahead…while some adventures were unexpected beyond belief.

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Parts of this post may be a bit repetitive from my Split Seconds introduction post a few weeks ago…please bear with me as I felt there were some blanks that needed to be filled in on our life before the flash flood and specifically the day of the flash flood.

Moving day dawns…and the epic day of moving my lifetime begins!

“I’m Gonna Climb That Mountain High” was blaring from my stereo, as I pulled up to the familiar stop sign, at the junction of Highway 37 in my truck “Della” (we name our vehicles around here), pulling my horsetrailer just as dawn was breaking into a brilliant red sunrise as I sang along with Reba…

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“Red Sun A Rising….Oooover That Hill” “I’ve Had Enough Of This Desert To Last From Now Until”….”This Could Be The Day I’ll Finally Find My Way Out!”

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Tears ran down my cheeks as I sang in a quivery voice…I had just hugged Mom and Dad as I left the house…I wiped my tears and blew my nose…telling myself “It’s time to put my Big Girl panties on!” My parents would be fine…but I missed them already, and I was only 10 miles down the road…but they would come to visit! “Now darn it MJ, be a Big Girl!”

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Giving “Della” the gas, I pulled onto Highway 37, and continued singing with Reba..while my kitty “Kalamazoo” laid beside me on his comfy blanket on the front seat..he was 11 that year…solid black, with just a bit of white on his tummy, he was my green-eyed Manx kitty with no tail of course and he had quite the “Cattitude”…he was my baby, Zippy or Zoo (as we called him) and he was given a tranquilizer shot from our vet early that morning before he left for the trip with me as he hated riding in the car…he equated it with going to the vet and he hated going to the vet!

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My trailer was loaded with our much loved horses, my 10 year old red sorrel mare Lottie…oh how she loved to cut cattle and work them! She could dance and boogie down anytime and I hung on! She was beautiful and I do still look for Leo bred horses as she was a triple bred Leo mare…incredibly smart and when you did not need her fire, she was laid back…and always was a joy to ride…she trusted me and I trusted her. In later years when my Dad was ill and in a wheelchair we would go outside during the magic hour on a summer evening so he could watch Lottie herd a small bunch of cattle to a corner and then stand and wait to see which one would try to break away and she would go to work cutting them off and herding them back…Dad laughed and got such a kick out her…I miss her and I miss her…someday I know I will see her again.

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(We had matching red hair and temperament too!)

And Odie, who was WB’s 6 year old black gelding…he was beautiful with his big eyes, very refined for a gelding and such a sweetheart! We raised him out of one of our best AQHA mares, Sally, who was a beautiful colored Grulla. Odie was a character much like Wild Bill! He set his own rules as he was due in early May and instead he was born July 9th! Both Sally and Odie had me up every night checking on them for months! His birth was normal and all was well with both mom and foal…we called him Odie for Overdue:)

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My trip to our new home took about 9 hours driving, as I had a heavy load pulling my horsetrailer and I drive slow and easy when I have my horses behind me. I stopped along the way to let them out to stretch while offering water to them and Zippy…walking them around a bit to keep them balanced and happy. I started out the trip on a two lane country road leaving here…traveled about 80 miles of freeway before climbing up out of the Columbia River Gorge to Highway 97 which was two lane all the way to the ranch…but I made it and got the horses out who had big eyes and then Zippy who had even bigger eyes…and then we began to unload more boxes. Oh my gosh, I even brought 20 years of The Quarter Horse Journal…which is a heavy, monthly, horseman’s bible…when we moved the next time, away from the ranch, I donated them all to the AV ranch!

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Moving into the historic white two-story 100 year old house above in the picture was an interesting ordeal as furniture now a days compared to 1900 furniture was a bit bigger…the house had lots of character and charm which I loved. Close to the house was a large 50′ by 50′ barn that you can see to the right with the pitch to the roof line and it also had the ranch tack room in it, where we kept several of our saddles and all of our horse tack…the smaller barn, was closer to the house and was called the Milk Barn, and we had lots of various corrals, the loading chute and a few smaller buildings, along with a small 100 year old ice house that we used to keep our vet medicines in. The historic ice house had thick walls and was without windows since its original purpose was to store and keep ice. All the corrals, barns and buildings were built on and around a dry creek bottom, called Newsom Creek.

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As you turned into the ranch complex and crossed the cattle guard, the ranch house was to the left, with a small pasture next to the house and yard, where I kept our two horses Lottie and Odie…and to the right of the turn in was the equipment shed, with the shop joining on to it and straight ahead was where the barns and corral complex sat. In front of our house was an irrigated hay field and pasture that eventually led to the Crooked River. The ranch house and headquarters complex sat back about a 1/2 mile from the main highway, where you crossed the large bridge over the Crooked River to reach the ranch.

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 The above picture was taken in 1915 of the AV Ranch, at the time it was owned by Wallace and Ida Post…whom Post, Oregon was named after. The large two story house you see in the picture is the house we lived in…and looked pretty much the same except the balcony was gone. By the way, if you get an Oregon map out, draw an X from corner to corner, Post, Oregon is right in the very center of Oregon…and it was a small post office combined with a small grocery store, when we lived there.

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 It’s taken me several years to write about the flash flood, and even today I find it hard to talk about. It was a life changing event to me, as it was the most fearful experience I had ever felt. There was nothing that I could do…there was nothing anyone could do. It was overwhelming to witness the power of the water and the course of natural events caused by it. We barely escaped with our lives…one young man wasn’t as fortunate…loosing him and his horse was very difficult for his fiancé and his family…for us and our 15 yer old son, who found him a day later. The power of the water carried his body 8 miles and took his horse 16 miles…for many months there was a cloud of heaviness over the ranch and grief in all our hearts.

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The deadly flash flood began 20 miles above us, on top of the Murray Mountains. During the afternoon the clouds continued to build and collide,  producing a cloudburst of water and energy, it was estimated that 6″ of rain fell in 20 minutes on top of the mountains behind us…which began the run off of the water down the dry canyons. And instead of absorbing the water into the dry dirt, the water ran on top of the dry earth, taking juniper brush and logs with it, along with boulders and rocks, building the deadly energy of the water into a roaring wall of water and debris that was headed down canyons that converged into Newsom Creek, about 8 miles above us. Down at the ranch headquarters where we lived, we had very little rain. By the time the deadly wall of water hit Newsom Creek it took everything and anyone in its path…there were no warnings and it caught both man and animal off guard. We had no idea waking up that warm summer morning, that all hell would break loose that afternoon and by nightfall, our lives would forever be changed.

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August 5, 1991 dawned like any other day that summer. It was hot with humidity and was hazy from the mixture of heat and dust. The summer had been unusual for us…as we were still settling in after moving our life to the ranch…I had spent the last two months unpacking, which was a huge task for me as it took time to figure out where to put things. By the 5th of August I was finally feeling like the end was in sight and the ranch was beginning to feel like home to me. I was able to look around and see our things here and there…I felt content as now I could concentrate on living the life of the ranch, helping my husband and getting to know the vast land we were on. I felt a new hope and anticipation for a new life with Wild Bill. I was finally back on a ranch doing what came natural…I loved waking up to cows and horses each day…it was pure heaven!

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We were busy getting in the last of our hay crop for the coming winter months of feeding cattle. Wild Bill was running the bale wagon in one of the hay fields, which means he drove it and it picked up the hay bales loading it, then he drove it carrying the load of hay back to the haystack yard where he unloaded it into the stack. Youngest son, was swathing or cutting hay in another field and our oldest son Travis was bailing hay into hay bales in another field. We had one more issue to contend with…rattle snakes! They often would be wrapped up in the bales with their heads sticking out of the bale still alive and they could bite…so you had to be careful.  The fields were spread out along the Crooked River for several miles and that day, Bill and the boys were all in different fields. In 1991, we did not have cell phones or two-way radios as we lived where we could not get a radio signal due to an iron mountain that was close to the house, so we had no way of communication on the ranch.

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After everyone got up and got going that morning, I decided it was time to  clean the house, doing my regular dusting and vacuuming, washing clothes and in general spiffing up the place. I was in and out of the house moving the water in the yard, watching for snakes as well, as the yard was a nice cool place for them to be! I had our two horses in a pasture next to the house, which I loved and they enjoyed the big trees to stand under for shade and being able to visit me. I often took turns on the horses, riding each of them out to find where Bill and his crew was for the day or the afternoon.

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The ranch owner had several horses that summer that needed work and training so I was working with the very young ones getting them ready for the horse trainer who lived at the ranch for the summer. I had five weanlings in five separate steel paneled pens that Bill and Mike had set up for me the week before next to the house and close to the big barn. I also had an assortment of yearlings and two and three-year olds in the corrals next to the barn and was taking care of two aged mares of the owners in the pasture behind the equipment shop/shed. I was in horse heaven delight! My only complaint was a sore tummy from a horse kick a few days before but it was a long ways from my heart…an old saying that I heard growing up.

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Bill and the boys came into the house at noon for lunch…I fixed them some sandwiches and we ate outside on the deck because it was a hot humid day and we had just bought a patio table and chairs a few days before. It was our first patio set and we all enjoyed sitting on the deck looking at the mountains, our horses and the cows…mostly we enjoyed the peaceful scenery and the quiet. As the guys were getting ready to go back out at 1:00, Bill said “You boys better pay attention to the sky this afternoon, it looks like we’ll see some lights in those clouds coming in. If you see any lightning, come into the house…don’t stay in the field. I remember thinking that Bill was right…I also thought that the clouds looked odd and appeared to be a different kind of cloud. They were moving in a swirl of sorts in a funny rotation. It looked like we were getting clouds from two different directions, and weather systems were colliding over head from the South and the Northeast. After Bill and the boys left I got busy again cleaning up the kitchen. It wasn’t long before I heard the wind picking up…never failed that after I cleaned we would have a dust storm…we lived on a gravel road as well, with lots of log trucks and traffic, as the road was a short cut over the mountains to Brother’s, Oregon.

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About 2:30 a car drove up to the house, it was my neighbor from over the mountain. She had tried to go up the road down farther from us and ran into a bit of flooding ten miles up-country above us. She called her home to let her husband know that she would be taking a different route home. I asked her if we should be alarmed about the flooding…she said “No, the storm would pass…that it was just a little run off…nothing that doesn’t happen every once in a while.” I offered her a cup of coffee and we sat at my kitchen table talking about my great view of the meadows and made our acquaintances We had never met before and meeting other ranch wives was so important as you needed each other so I was happy to have made a connection to her. She left about 3:00 for her home and by then the wind was picking up with severe lightning and I was beginning to worry about Bill and the boys. I went outside to see what was happening…it was pitch black overhead and not because of dust. I sensed something very wrong about this storm…the clouds were almost a vortex of sorts and there was a funny feeling in the air…it had a strange color to the skies above and felt eerie…by now I was really worried. I remember praying for my neighbor to make it home safe and sound with her little girl.

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Just as I was about to take the pick up out to look for my family, Travis, came in from the baler. We were standing in the mud/laundry room talking about the storm, he said it looked really bad up-country in the mountains behind us as they had been shrouded in black clouds all afternoon. I told him about our neighbor stopping in and taking a different road home due to the flooding on her usual road. We were starting to get a few sprinkles of rain by then but not much, except a nasty lightning and thunder storm. I was now feeling more panic as to where Bill and Greg were, so was Travis. It was roaring outside as the wind picked up blowing in bursts along with the thunder…it was black as coal out like it was 8:00 at night instead of  3:30. Greg came blasting through the door about then, looking frightened and said he saw the bale wagon sitting by the shop and figured Bill was with us.

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We were all feeling on edge by now and didn’t know where to look for Bill. We finally decided to make a run for the shop and the barns to see where he was and what he was doing. No sooner had we decided that…then Bill burst in through the door. He had been hiding out in the little building we called the Ice House or vet medicine room. It was a 100 year old ice house that we converted to a vet/medicine room out in the corrals where we worked the cattle. He had been waiting for a break in the storm to make a run for the house. Luckily, he came in…as that little building was the first one to disintegrate when the wall of water hit…it had no windows, so Bill wouldn’t have been able to see the water in time to escape with his life.

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Mike, the horse trainer, pulled up in the driveway about 3:45 getting out of the pick up with a serious concerned look, so Bill went out to see what was up. The boys and I were still standing in the mud room…when the lightning hit our phone on the wall with a loud popping sound and the phone was smoking…Greg started to walk over to it and I said “Don’t touch it”. He decided to go out and tell Bill and Mike about the phone. In a split second our power was surging…Travis and I decided we had better find the fuse box fast before the surging hurt our computer and blew our microwave as it was beeping away. Looking back I think it was warning us that all hell was about to break loose….

Stay tuned with me as we travel back to moments between life and death, with the rest of the story…to be continued.

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