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This mother’s tears

This mother wept today.. Tears of frustration.  This is the first time I have not

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been able to find some crazy solution and save the day.

When hubby got hurt this spring we needed help. On the farm and in the business. We asked our youngest to take a leap of faith and throw his lot in with ours- we offered a fair wage in return for an honest days work and cattle to boot, and if he worked hard, the prospect of taking over our generally very lucrative business.

Fast forward to just weeks before Christmas, and hubb’s drops the bomb on me that he’s going to have to lay the kidd-o off. – All winter, it looks like.- For whatever reason, business is slow in our industry right now. All over.

Guess who gets to break the news to him tomorrow??

No matter how I run numbers, there is simply no way to pay for both households.

My heart aches. We asked him to give up city life and move to the country and a goo

d job to boot, to come to our rescue. And now we’re going to throw him under the bus.

 

I have never NOT found a way to come through for the kids. And trust me- there’s been some insurmountable odds over the years and I always found a way to come up smelling roses. So- tears of hurt, tears of rage and tears of fear.

Hurt because I have to be the bad guy, rage because I can’t see a way out and fear because I fear he won’t help when business picks back up- and a bigger fear that he’ll be so damn mad he doesn’t talk to us again. Not that I wouldn’t blame him.

So- now here I am at midnight… tossing out my resume to nearly anywhere…. Maybe if I can land a town job, that will take the edge off…

This mother’s tears- tears he will never know.

-Katy-

PS…. I now know exactly how my dad felt.

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Trunk or Treat and the demise of neighborhoods

Trunk or Treat is really catching on.  This is where folks line their cars up, decorate the trunks and the little people walk around on Halloween getting their candy in one place. One street. One part of one street.17544

Now I’m not against the concept. I see it’s merits is places like San Francisco, New York City and the like, where many folks may live in high rises or such. I can also see how it makes parents feel safer if they live in a ‘bad part of town’. Or the ease of just stopping in the parking lot at your kids school. And very micro towns- this nay be a good way for everyone to get together in the evening.

But mostly I see it as the nail on the coffin, so to speak, for neighborhoods.

I just caught a local interview on the news and the young mother said she is glad it is in the school parking lot because she “recognizes other parents and children”. To me that implies that while she recognizes them, she doesn’t know  them.  It also implies that there is no value to her in knowing the neighbors on any level.

james halloween 001I am old enough to remember when everyone went door to door. Parents visited with each other on sidewalks as we ran up to “trick or treat”- Parents also made it a point to introduce themselves any new or unknown neighbors, as well as inviting them to upcoming neighborhood events and shindigs.

My own kids went house to house.  We went back and forth between country and city living- so some years we drove the kids into ‘town’ (we were 3 miles from the nearest neighbor and 16 to town) so they could go with their school chums… all of a hundred folks lived ‘in town’.

Last year I was giving a talk on community involvement in a local small town, right before Halloween. The City Auditor stated she was taking her children the next town over for trunk or treat. Why? Because there were new neighbors on the corner she didn’t know and was afraid to let her kids go up by themselves. So- my first question back was WHY haven’t you already introduced yourself? followed by Why not go up with them???  She chose to take her children 12 miles away to the town with under a hundred people from her own with nearly 500- It kinda baffles me.

Way to go- making your new community member feel unwelcome right out of the gate.  

In a rural or small town setting Trunk or Treat also takes away from the joy of the home bound who have prepared for days for little ghosts and goblins and princesses and unicorns to come to their door. Many of the older folks know every family around, whose kids have allergies, whose like nut rolls and whose love candy corn and make individual bags for them. I know Mildred (in her 90s)  would have been desolate if the kids hadn’t made an appearance- She’d been known for decades in the neighborhood.

Imagine how you would feel if you went all out, quite possibly hoarding bits of your fixed income so you could have treats for the kiddies, to have no one show up. That would probably be disheartening. And what of the new family? Don’t you think that attitude by your new town would keep  person or family  from participating in  other ‘community’ things during the year?

Trick or Treating is almost a rite of passage. It is tradition. It is neighbors being neighborly. – (And trying to out do each other!)

It is community.

It’s OK to do both- To Trunk or Treat at a location, but try  to be neighborly too. You don’t have to cover blocks… but it would be nice to knock on your neighbors door and say “Trick or Treat” or “Welcome to the neighborhood”

-Katy-

Me, Dave and Barry (Manilow)

Once upon a time in a far off land….

Little ‘ol me

I was young once. And cute. But not heartless- until one fateful day….

Way back when, there was a boy I went to school with, Dave Etchison- a nice enough boy, as boys went back then.  He pursued me relentlessly. I still have no idea what the dave etchisonfascination was. And I tried everything to get him away from me….Out right “NO” didn’t work,  I sicced my brother on him, I dated his brother, I told my friends to tell him Buzz Off… nothing was working!

This young man would walk from his place to our before school trying to catch me before I left so we could walk together… Now get this… he lived over a mile from the school one direction and we lived a mile from it the other direction… I give him props for dedication to the cause!

One day, as I was trying to sneak out the side door (I saw him waiting out front) , he busted me…. and he gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a Barry Manilow 45 ~ “I can’t smile without you”

I don’t know what came over me… But I threw his record on the ground and stomped it into a million pieces and stormed off to school.

I think he got the message. He didn’t talk to me for a couple years!

But fast forward a couple years post graduation… a mutual friend was on his way to pick me up “my friend is driving” .. Guess who the friend was??? And guess what friend tried to play with my knee like it was the stick shift???

Yeah- that’s right… I cheerfully reminded him of The Incident 

~Katy~

Moms bestest, easiest buttermilk biscuits

It’s no secret- we like bread. Any kind of breads- Sourdough, pumpernickel, garlic-y cheesy breads, bruschetta …. and that all around staple- biscuits. IMG_1641

They go so easily with every meal…

But alas- I live a fair distance to the market. So in this recipe you will learn how to make ‘fake’ or substitute buttermilk and a great cheaters trick so you don’t have to cut in the butter…

Super simple ingredients too!

2 1/2 C flour       2 T baking Powder    1 Tsp sugar   8 T butter (yes son,  you can sub margerine)  1 C milk   1 T lemon juice (trust me)  1/2 tsp salt(optional)

mix the milk and lemon juice together and put in the freezer  for about 7-10 min… while it’s chilling, melt the butter and let cool.  In the meantime mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and make an indent (well) in the center.

Here comes some magic!– Add the butter to the chilled milk and watch it make little butter balls/slush. Pour into dry and stir until just mixed. Turn out and roll or pat –gently-(I prefer pat) to about 1 inch-ish. and fold and pat..repeat like 6 times.

Cut with a cutter or glass. *tip* Do NOT twist the cutter/cup it makes the edges ‘crimp’ and your biscuits won’t rise well.

Bake at 425 10 min -they’ll be golden on top- take out and brush with some melted butter.

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Mama used a cookie cutter

Gobble up.  Eat with jam, make biscuits and gravy, dunk in gravy, make sandwiches…..

*Tips for the boy-o-s

Need buttermilk in a jiff??? 1 Tablespoon ( a generous soup spoon will do) lemon juice per cup of milk. Let stand 5 min and use.

No rolling pin? No problem- beer/wine bottles, be creative, just keep an equal pressure when rolling.

 

Yes- you can sub Margarine in most of moms recipes, though it alters the taste and these biscuits won’t be quite as fluffy.

Mama

 

 

 

 

A long overdue rebuttal “True to Washburn”

Yes- I should have done this sooner. Better late than never~

This is a rebuttal to the editorial in the Washburn Leader-News newspaper in July. ( I said it was overdue!) and gives random thoughts section by section.

Washburn editorial 001

(the True to Washburn editorial is at the bottom of this post in its entirety. )

“True to Washburn” – Not so much

As with any community the world over, they begin and then they change. Whether that change is good, bad or otherwise, there is an ebb and flow to every community. They evolve over time. New people and new businesses take the place of those that left or closed. Attitudes, economics and options dictate that change.  

To say that Washburn could become  “a mere memory” is is mis-statement. If that were truly the case, then Washburn is already a mere memory of what it was.

Opportunities, community and safety- these are some of the reasons make a home in Washburn….” So are  progressiveness and growth.  Without these the others don’t exist.

“WE came here…” We who exactly My guess would be that a door to door survey would reveal that nearly half or more have moved to Washburn for proximity to employment.

Where is our money best spent and our priorities located?“…So say the very folks that shop in other larger towns.  There is no law that says any of us owes a living to any shop owner anywhere. That is freedom of choice.  The same as the shop owner is free to choose whether to be pleasant or rude, open or closed. While I agree that ‘shopping local’ means those businesses will be there for the long haul, it is perfectly OK to spend money ‘in town’ as well. Besides- if a shopkeeper is going be rude, we’d just as soon go to town and be treated rudely anonymously and have more selection while it’s happening!

(And I quote a young employee from the grocery store in Washburn… “If you’re going to shop here, you should expect to lower your expectations” )

Not competition from a nation wide chain” …. Then why has Family Dollar been accepted so readily? The upshot is that competition is healthy, drives customer services, innovation, better products and more people stopping in town. If a national chain is what it takes to drive the 50,000+/- tourists to Washburn yearly downtown, then so be it.

toms om“…additions to the community must be done thoughtfully and over time.” It would seem the time is now.

A sense of belonging-” That IS a powerful reason to stay. But to achieve that, then don’t you think on the whole the ‘locals’ should treat newcomers like neighbors?  Belonging can be a powerful word. Act like it.

We can promote what we have”…We can clean and freshen…”  It’s been years since there was a serious effort in these departments. Thankfully there is some new leadership that is working hard at making a difference for ALL and not just some. 

We want to nurture that environment, not snuff it out.”  Enhance it, is more like it. And again.. we who exactly?

…”Becoming a different version of Bismarck or Garrison” No matter how hard anyone tries, or what new people or businesses come into Washburn, it will always  be Washburn.

Let’s think carefully as we add new things, as not to push out the old” Again- ENHANCE…. Nobody is ‘pushing out the old’…

“Locals are resistant to change.” TRUE. But remember- Always in NOT Forever! It’s a given, change is hard to accept. All things change. Once upon a time we shopped our towns exclusively. Now we are an extremely mobile society. Running to Bismarck or Minot or anywhere else is a breeze. That is change. New stores open. That is change. Are you going to begrudge AgPro because they are new? (that would just be plain silly!) Would you refrain from driving over the bridge because it replaced the ferry? (That would be plain silly too!) That is change. The way we eat has changed.  Many folks want a really quick, or a really fresh choice- without getting out of the car and without having to fix it themselves.  That is change. 

Mostly though, it would seem the most resistance to change involves the human element.

~Katy~

Leader News Editorial-

Opportunities, community, safety-these are some of the reasons people come from out of the city and decide to make a home in Washburn.  We moved here because we would know our neighbors, our teachers, our business owners. We came because we weren’t just one in hundreds of thousands here, but someone who could make a big a difference. We moved here, not because of a single feature, building or business, but because we fell in love with what the community represented.  And as plans are drawn up and ideas pour out, we can only  hope we don’t see the city  we chose become a mere memory. Let’s grow, but let’s not lose touch with our roots. So, as we think of what we can add, let’s remember what we need. Where is our money best spent and our priorities located?Maybe we need new signs and benches around town, and maybe our residents need help paying off special assessments that shook most the city.  Some would enjoy more fast food options in the city, but maybe we can bridge the gap by supporting and growing  our already established local eateries. Our local businesses need employees to fill shifts and involvement from the community, not competition from a nation wide chain. Maybe new attractions would give residents more places to go, but additions to the community must be done thoughtfully and over time. Maybe we need to push less to have more, and push more to improve what we already have. Because there is a reason so many decide  to make this place their home, and that sense of belonging is not something to overlook. This city has brought people from around the state, around the country, around the world. It is strong, independent and booming with history. And while we only hope to bring more neighbors to the city, we also know no city is the right fit for every person. Itis a place that people choose because of exactly what it is.    Washburn, like any other city, has room to improve. We can fill gaps that leave residents wanting more or visitors quickly passing through. We can promote our recreation and try new things at attractions we already have. We can clean and freshen up our community, without losing a sense of what makes it special. Because Washburn brings people who fall in love with the feeling of it, we want to nurture that environment, not snuff it out. As we push for new features, and new marketing to promote them, we hope the focus doesn’t lay so heavily on becoming just another version of Bismarck , Garrison or another city Washburn should never become. There is a saying around town that many of the locals are resistant to change, which is probably true. Because who would want to risk seeing a city they love change into something else? Maybe instead, we should strive to simply improve, to grow,to flourish. Let’s embrace what sets this city apart, and keep that message in the forefront of our minds. Let’s think carefully as we add new things, as to not push out the old. Let’s strive for better without losing sight of who we are. One hundred and thirty five years ago, this city was founded. And since then, generations have made a life here, because the city felt like home. Let’s not make the mistake of forgetting what a beautiful home it is. -The Leader News editorial board consists of Alyssa Meier, Don Winter and Hayley Anderson

 

 

Sensible shoes and memories

We went to a good Eye-Tali-an-o wedding last week down in Denver.

All the players were there… “The Don” ,”Cha-Cha”  the wise guys and all the rest. Polyester in abundance right along with chest hair and chains, big hair and high heels.

But what stood out the most, was The Don’s mother-in-law…. In her sensible shoes.sensibleshoes

I was immediately reminded of all the old ladies that used to sit on their stoops and watch kids play in the street. She reminded me of MY grandmother. Never without her sensible shoes.  And all the times she chatted with ‘The Ladies” – Comparing olive oils and pedigrees, transgressions and recipes, children and husbands and so on. All dressed alike- all in sensible shoes.

She reminded me of all the ladies riding the bus to the market in San Francisco- shopping bags tucked neatly into handbags or under their arms, housedresses and sensible shoes for walking.  She reminded me of  garlic and gravy (that’s-a what we call spago sauce) and crusty bread and cannoli.

it ladiesShe reminded me of when we lived in North Carolina and went to a Columbus Day Celebration in downtown Fayetteville.

There standing all her glory on street corner was an elderly Italian lady in her green (the EXACT same shade as the flag!) housedress, matching handbag and jaunty little hat  proudly holding a full size Italian Flag waving gently in the wind. In her sensible shoes….

A toast to The Don’s mother-in-law!

Salute!

I miss my Grammy and was happy for the memories

~Katy~

 

 

Masonville, Colorado- A Kate’s 8 town

MasonvilleColorado~ a beautiful, picturesque little (un-incorporated) micro sized, 20140626_133444unincorporated town (wide spot in the road)  has all eight of the assets that every community shares. The fact that there really in no ‘town’ per-se, is not a problem.  A skip away from Estes Park, Loveland and Ft Collins– it is still a slice of the wild west and feels like it is miles and miles from anywhere. (which it kinda is- ank8s average of 30 miles to ‘anywhere’)

Masonville easily covers all the assets:  Architecture, Art/Culture, Cuisine, Customs, Commerce, Geography, History and People.

Every things fits into one of these categories, and every town- even a ghost town- has a story to tell about each one” – Kansas Sample Foundation

Here’s my ‘story’ on each element;

Geography– Masonville was originally platted in the Buckhorn Canyon following a  small discovery of Gold.  It is surrounded by the stunning foothills and rolling meadows leading up to Estes Park and the Buckhorn, Redstone and Big Thompson creeks. It is an area considered to be part of the beginning of the “Front Range”.  Gold, Silver, Tungsten, Copper and Nickel have been found there along with a host of other lesser ores and small gemstones.

The winding roads leading into Masonville make it a popular destination for motorcyclists and bicyclists alike.

20140626_133558Art/Culture  A part of Masonville holds a mini western ‘town’ and many sculptures and 20140626_134359paintings.  In part they tell a story about the West that Was and in part just for whimsy.

Commerce  For a town with only TWO businesses, it sure is a busy place!!! The  Masonville Mercantile  is an incredible little year round Emporium that serves many markets- everything from unique gifts to the wedding and historical re-enactment markets. Their milliner even

derby hats

photo by M. Vendegna

makes award winning hats for the ladies at the Kentucky Derby.  The Nostalgic West Leather Shop is a ‘go to’ shopping hot spot for all things leather. Dusters, cowboy hats, quality bike leathers (we have some from there!) gloves, gifts and accessories.

 

Cuisine – While there are no traditional food places to eat at in Masonville,  each year there are a number of events from farmers markets to BBQ’s that draw huge crowds. – A great way to meet new people and enjoy the beauty of the area. (and there’s always the snacks at the Mercantile!)

People – Many of the local residents of the Masonville area have roots that run very deep.  Members of the Milnor family has been in the area since the late 1800s. bikes masonville

Each year tourists from all over the world visit Masonville too. I have met people from England, Scotland and Australia while hanging out in Masonville!

Architecture – The Mercantile and the Hotel (now privately owned) were originally built closer to Buckhorn creek, but later moved to where they currently are. The store has been added onto over the years. But the authenticity of the wild west remains. Across from the store, is a small outdoor chapel and ‘wild west town’. Much of it was built with reclaimed lumber from original buildings to the area.   Read here for some history on the Masonville store.  Down the street, the old school is still there and has been turned into a private residence, as has the hotel.

History- Named for James R Mason, Masonville itself  was originally platted in the 1890’s, masonville-school3though there were already families living in the area at that time.  The Kitchens, Milner’s and Sheldon’s to name but a few. – The local history is rich with stories of cattle rustlers and mountain men, pioneers and tourists.  And the life story of Cal Carter, Masonville’s last goldcal-carter-mine1 miner is quite extraordinary.

Customs- Where to start?? Many years ago the mercantile hosted the Masonville Mercantile Ball at the holidays.  I am not sure if they still do, as we have been gone from the area a few years now and I have only been back in the summers.

But I do know that Masonville plays host to a number of Steam Punk, Wedding, SASS, bike runs, Sunday-go-to-meeting, BBQs, Farmers markets and more.

These are a continuance of the customs from olden days when people congregated at the local store for fellowship, to hear the news and get entertainment.

Stay tuned for more Kate’s 8 towns!

~Katy~

Katy is a speaker for  rural and small communities and small business as well as a columnist for AgWeek.   www.taitandkate.com for more information

 

Roadside kitch- It gets me everytime

What can I say- I like cheese. The cheesier, the better. I am a sucker for it every time.  Especially the ones that you have your head in the picture.   Leaping tall fences, cutting off traffic, abruptly stopping the car… I am guilty of all.

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Masonville, CO

Thankfully my sons were always game for another stop on our adventures.

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Terry Bison Ranch, WYO

 

I think my love of Roadside Kitch began in the early ’70s with a long trip to the east coast and my first sighting of an oversized Bobs BigBoy! Or maybe it was Burma Shave that grabbed me  with their signs…”The monkey took one look at Jim and threw the peanut back at him“(Dixon, CA)

Roadside attractions became wildly popular all over the US in the 1930s when we began to “See the USA in our Chevrolets” and continued well into the 60s. – They were to grab your attention and get you off the road and into town.

dinosaur-murdo

Man walking Dinosaur   Murdo,SD

The general intent was that if they got you to stop to see the worlds biggest ball of twine, then you’d probably stay for dinner, get gas  (think “eat at Stuckey’s and get gas”) and maybe even stay the night or do a little shopping.

 

The idea is still the same today, except most roadside attractions are now in predominately rural areas.

img_20160512_151223965 20151113_110433_lls

And I still stop at them. I doubt I will ever be too old to enjoy the novelty of roadside attractions.

~Katy~

 

B-52’s and BullDogs

untitledAnd small town bars.

We all know those jokes- “A guy walks into a bar……………..”

Many years ago we moved out to the sandhills of eastern Colorado.  We had bought a café sight unseen on a hand shake at a football game in Denver. Yes- true story.

After weeks of working double shifts I decided I needed a drink.  So off I went to our nearest town with a bar- Yuma- 40+ miles away.

Our town was D.R.Y….

So, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, I walked into the bar. ALONE…and sat down at the end. The quintessential bartender is  leaning on it at the other end yapping it up with the ‘regulars’. They all look a little startled.

Him: What can I get you?

Me: A B-52

Him: Ohhh- Akron has an airstrip… anything else?

Me: okay- How about a Bulldog?

Him: Mason there (points at guy) has dogs for sale

Me:  How about a beer?

….Brings me a bottle…

ME: in a glass….

Him: It IS in a glass!

And then the frosting on the cake……

Him: WHO are you here with?????

And that is when I learned that well bred  ladies do NOT go to the bar ‘unattended’ out there unless ….. Unless what??

Maybe I should have had him explain it to me? heehee

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On another occasion we needed some wine to go with a harvest dinner for a private party- So I ran to the beer store in Joes looking for some- Fully expecting some KJ or Hogue or Napa Valley or something reasonable…

a164d6f6e765dbbdacd2d32bd91899ccAs I’m looking around, the very nice lady asks if she can help me find anything in particular…. I tell her we’re looking for a wine that pairs well with steak and seafood…

She proudly directs me to the far wall where they have EVERY FLAVOR of

BOONE’s FARM

Not quite what I was thinking… but what do you say in the face of such pride???

“We’ll take  a DOZEN of those….”

BTW- Boone’s has over 25 flavors…

Of which I am sure I have tried nearly all at some point….

But Boone’s and Strawberry Pop-tarts is another story

~Katy~

 

 

 

Are we Ranchers or Farmers?

That’s a tough one answer!

I think we’re “Franchers”

We have both cattle and crops. Though we have just crossed over to focusing more on cattle and all  it entails.

 

Depending on who you ask, or where you live.. you are one or the other.

If we lived in Montana … the general consensus is that if you have just one hoofed critter, you ARE a rancher.  However… if you have milk cows, you ARE a farmer. As in ‘dairy farm’.

Many farmers will argue that many ranches are part granger , therefore farms.

Trivia: In Australia  they are called sheep and cattle Stations. img_7317

Cattle Ranch. Dairy Farm. Sheep Ranch. Fish Farm. Buffalo Ranch.  Goat Ranch. Boneless Chicken Ranch. Game (wild) Ranch. Art Farm. Nut Farm. Fruit Farm. Fur Farm. Emu Farm. See a pattern here??

Typically- in ranching- they have always been ranchers. Farmers on the other hand are img_6158more typically ‘diversified’. Especially in the mid west.  We are diverse.. cattle, small grains and mobile yard art (chickens).

Farmers are not romanticized the same way ranchers have been. Cattle drives across the wild prairies and so on evoke our imagination. Plain old practical farming doesn’t seem to be as gripping!

When our Nation was young, having cattle and crops, or a dairy cow or chickens was not only a means to making it, it was also extra money at the end of the year. Butter and extra eggs could be sold.  A great book to read on this is Women of the Northern Plains by Barbara Marchello. And by the way- If you ever get a chance to hear her speak… GO! It is an eye opener to what Farm and Ranch women did ‘back then’img_7227

Our farm has always been known as a farm. For nearly 100 years, the hubby’s family have farmed this land we are on. And while there has always livestock, it was always called ‘farm’. So I guess for now, we will remain farmers.

~Katy~

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