Digging Out

When the weather folks began predicting a Christmas Day Blizzard almost a whole week before Christmas, many of us scoffed. The last couple of winter storms were somewhat over-hyped and, while being a little inconvenient, were really not severe. Christmas Eve rolled around and church was cancelled, and we really began betting on there ending up being nothing worth cancelling church over. Christmas morning rolled around and we got a dusting of snow, or a couple of inches, but nothing worth getting too excited about, and we continued to doubt the meteorologists. But then came the wet precipitation, the ice, and Christmas afternoon finally arrived in a whirlwind of snow and wind. Travel was not advised on pretty much all of the highways in and around the Black Hills, I-90 was closed, and the Christmas Day Blizzard arrived as predicted.
IMG_0347eOur mile-long driveway proved to be a hassle, and a lot of work went into shoveling parts of the driveway by hand on Monday, since the only person really familiar with the road grader is out of state for the time being. Trixie was in her element, and spent a good deal of the day tearing around to her little heart’s content. She loves the snow.
IMG_0336eSome of us humans love the snow as well, the rushing cold, the gleaming white. Shortcuts through a pasture turn into comical flounderings in knee-high drifts. Walking up the road to Grandma’s takes extra effort, since every step forward on the slick snow costs you six inches in backsliding. Pant legs freeze solid. But it is winter. It is supposed to be like this. The hassle doesn’t get to us. Granted, we didn’t lose power or need to be anywhere. “Hassle” is almost too big of a word to use.
IMG_0659eYesterday was beautiful and it was no problem getting back and forth between our house and Grandma’s, where Mom and Dad are currently staying, and which is the hub for family festivities. But this morning the wind picked up, and all the work that went into digging out Monday was drifted over. I went up to Grandma’s to get some firewood for the Miner’s Cabin, and on the way down I hit a drift and slid off the road. In the process of trying to get it back on the road, it slid deeper off into knee-deep drifts, so my uncle and I spent the next hour or two digging it out!
IMG_0343Currently no vehicle, including the Jeep, can make it all the way up to Grandma’s, so we get as far as we can and then walk the rest of the way. One of the other four-wheel drive vehicles got a flat on the way up, and the other truck is snowed in over at my uncle’s house. Winds of 20-30 miles per hour are expected tonight. More digging out tomorrow.
IMG_0658But God is good. He gives us trials, such as having one’s day turned topsy-turvy in a snow drift, as a reminder that we do not carry out our plans or order our lives – He does. He also sends reminders of his goodness and grace, such as the beauty of blowing snow in the sunlight, blue skies, fresh, crisp country air, starry nighttime, family fellowship, puppy antics, and kittens purring.
IMG_0630e B+WLife is good. God is wonderful.

Laura Elizabeth

Glimpse of History

There is something haunting about the beauty of these creatures. It is strange to see animals so muscled and powerful bedded down quietly in the tall grass, blinking sleepily in the bright sunlight, staring curiously at the intruders then losing interest, their massive horns spread broadly beyond the width of their shoulders. Only their horns are visible when they hunker down in the warm grass. IMG_4069IMG_3982IMG_3957IMG_3978Perhaps what is haunting is the feeling that even a barbed wire fence is no match for their strength. Or, perhaps it is the feeling that I’m staring into their eyes and getting a glimpse of history. Perhaps both.

Laura Elizabeth

Black Hills Gothic

Our cousin William from Ohio was staying with us for the last 10 days, and one of the projects he tackled, with Sarah’s help, was building a stone wall around our garden. We have a tall fence that keeps the deer out, but there is a 10-inch gap along the bottom that lets rabbits in. Of course, we could have just closed the gap with chicken wire, but a stone wall is so much lovelier! More pictures to come! He and Sarah got the rocks from rock slides along our driveway and from one of the several pit mines on our property. He also fixed the garden gate so it now closes properly, and put in flagstones at the garden entry. He and Sarah did beautiful work!

IMG_1122small IMG_1123smallSo we have the Black Hills Gothic.

Laura Elizabeth


A Nice Idea

Our crazy puppy, Ditsy Trixie, is becoming quite the favorite in our house. After a couple months of on and off disaster, Trixie has settled in and is learning the ropes around here! As a puppy, she has the attention span of a flea and the spazzy energy of a chipmunk, and no matter how worn out she is after an outing she always makes a beeline for the garbage to wreck havoc. But she has actually been learning, and is becoming quite the hiking buddy. I’m so excited. IMG_1127small IMG_1148smallThis morning while Dad was down in the crawlspace working on our plumbing, Trixie sneaked in and pulled a few stuffed animals out of storage – Stuffed animals that were supposed to be “keepsakes.” Being the generous person that I am, I thought I could pick up a stuffed animal for her from Goodwill when I went in this afternoon. She’d chewed the faces off her couple of stuffed animals, and disemboweled her favorite one, so it seemed right that a new one was in order. IMG_1177smallIMG_1161smallSo I found this hideous blue and yellow stuffed fish – It had plastic eyes, which I thought she might like (she loves to go straight for the face), and lots of appendages to chew on. IMG_1194smallThe long and short of it: she loved it. For all five minutes that it survived. Sure enough, she went straight for the face, after whipping it around to break its neck. Within two minutes, she had popped off the little plastic eyes, and about three minute later, we looked out the window and she was surrounded by white stuffing, and meticulously pulling out the rest. She completely gutted the fish. IMG_1205smallIt didn’t last long, but it was a nice idea.

Laura Elizabeth



Another Use for Duct Tape

My highschool years were during the duct tape craze – Well, at least among homeschoolers there was a duct tape craze. I know about creative uses for duct tape, although I was never cool enough to do anything unconventional with the stuff. But this was one use I had definitely never seen before.
IMG_9552Dad brought this little guy home yesterday evening. He found him on our long driveway, nowhere near water, and with a pretty sizeable chunk of his shell broken. We don’t know where he came from or how he got there, or how his shell was broken, but some kind person had duct taped him up, and it looked like he was subsequently taped another time or two. Given how warped the chipped piece was, it looked like he’s grown some since the injury.  Overall he seemed like a pretty healthy dude.
IMG_9556IMG_9558Trixie didn’t know what to make of Mr. Turtle – She growled and put her ears back and looked all funny at him, but went along happily with Dad to dump him in what little water is left in the stock pond. He’ll be happy there.
IMG_9567Oh, the creative uses for duct tape.

Laura Elizabeth


Best Buddies

Everybody needs a friend who will just listen, without disagreeing or trying to “fix” everything. Poor Trixie is at that stage in life where she hears “no” and “no” and “no” more often than she hears anything else. But while our friends were out of town for a night and a day, Trixie had just the buddy she needed.
IMG_8989Cleo is a mature critter, compared with Ditsy Trixie, and actually kept Trixie in line for a day. Usually Trixie takes off at the first opportunity (or the first hint of boredom) and hightails it to a cabin-sized brushpile where rabbits live. Yesterday, though, she only ran off once, even though she was off leash for hours. I was impressed.
IMG_8964IMG_9002Those two pups were a hoot to watch. They ran pretty much without ceasing for probably two hours, stopping occasionally for a short breather, plopping down exhausted and panting, until Trixie would pester and Cleo would bolt. Then the games would resume. If they weren’t running, they were tussling, nipping at each other’s faces and feet and jumping all over each other.
IMG_8985IMG_8983One good thing we learned is that Trixie has almost no territorial instinct. While it would be nice to have a dog with some guard-dog tendencies, it is nice to know that she is entirely unaggressive. Our old dog, Baby, would actively protect her space. Somehow, Trixie has no space. Or no personal space. Or both.
IMG_9027The temperature was reading in the 90s, and those girls were still zipping around the yard, sometimes stopping for a dip in the pool, then dashing off again. Trixie plunged her whole self into her pool, submerging her face and blowing bubbles. Cleo was much more dainty and ladylike.
IMG_9038During one of their “breathers,” I got this series of photos where they look like they are laughing uproariously. Every time I look at the pictures, I can’t help but giggle!
IMG_8971IMG_8970IMG_8968I always enjoy watching animals interact with one another. Whether it is watching calves playing on dirt piles, or horses frisking around a pasture, or laughing at the dog and cats as they try to work out their differences, or watching these two pups tear around the yard, I love seeing the interactions of God’s creatures. What a marvelous Creation God has placed us in!

Laura Elizabeth