This time…

They say time changes things. Country songs document a young girl’s brown hair turning grey or how time always marches on. Time, generally thought about as a long term concept, is said to heal, build up or create peace. However, this time I am talking about time in regards to the four short weeks I have spent as a member of the Rock Hills Ranch family. I am sad to see it end, but there are invaluable things I can take away from it.

If you asked me about myself six months ago, I would have told you I was a new transfer student at the University of Florida simply making it through each day. I was facing a very difficult and trying time in my young adulthood and felt as if I had no direction and no clue where I was going. I was defeated and I will admit looking back, weak.

IMG_1517Time moved on and I developed a wonderful group of friends, genuine happiness again and an endless amount of opportunities that if I only had the courage to pursue, I may get to experience. What better thing to do than to apply for an internship 1,900 miles away from home when one is seeking an escape? After all, I felt as if I had nothing to lose.

Weeks passed and I went to class, adventured with friends and started running to relieve the stress of the fall. If you have read my previous posts, specifically the first one, you would know that I interviewed with Garnet and the rest is history.

Since arriving here in Lowry, South Dakota I have experienced the highest of highs and some lower moments too. To say that I never missed home would be a tale and to say that I was ready to leave would also be a lie.  

I adjusted to the time change, the raging wind, and the longer days. I learned of the history of these Great Plains and the promise they hold for the future. I have embraced that I and my kind are as important as the badger, the hawk and the bees- but not any more so. I have been humbled by a moment sitting atop a hill on the ranch spending time with God; taking in as much of the vast space as possible in hopes of forever preserving the beauty in my mind.  The appreciation I developed for this land over the last four weeks is one that I don’t know I could extensively share through words. It is almost an emotion of overwhelming humility, to know that we as God’s children have the privilege of interacting with this magnificent creation. 

For anyone that is skeptical of the power of time, I will tell you that yes it can build up and yes it can heal. The time that passed, while the glaciers moved and melted, built these hills. The time I have spent with the cattle and a ranch hand has built up my confidence and courage. Time healed a barnyard cat that lost her tail, and brought back to life the thirsting prairies through rain.  Time, this short time, has healed my spirit and instilled in me a love for the unknown, contrary to my typical type "A" tendencies.  I have developed a desire to learn about the heritage of those who settled old claim shacks and a thirst to discover the rugged and beautiful history that is the West. IMG_1290

As I leave, I am still a student at the University of Florida. I am still going to face challenges ahead, and I still do not know exactly what my future holds. However, thanks to this time, this land and these people I am thriving beautifully in not knowing what lies ahead. I am ready to embrace the adventure and where ever it may take me. Four days, four weeks or four years from now I will look back and say I was a changed girl, no longer defeated and weak. I will look back and describe this girl as one with a desire for adventure and a grit that no one will ever take away from her again.



Nothing is a coincidence.

I am so excited to share that after I leave Rock Hills Ranch in just a few days I will begin an internship with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture!

The past week or so around the ranch has been a little slower now that cows are calving less frequently and the weather is staying pretty consistent. Apart from Garnet and I designing some promotional materials for the 100th Meridian Trail, Sam and I have spent a lot of time checking fence and checking cows in the evenings.

If there is something that I could choose to reflect on this past week, I would first share a quote shared with me by a friend:

                “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live." – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

I will begin with this new opportunity in Pierre, SD. Originally I was scheduled to return to Florida on Saturday, May 30. I would then spend time catching up with friends and family I have been missing dearly and looking for a job the remainder of the summer. Last week, a fellow Floridian and UF alumna who works with Secretary Lentsch, Stacy Revels, shared with me a potential opening for a student intern in their office. I sent in my resume and waited to see if anything would arise from it. Shortly after, Deputy Secretary, Trudy Wastweet called me to arrange an interview. The rest is well, very recent history!

Now you can probably guess that the logistics at first were very overwhelming and intimidating. Where would I stay in Pierre? How would I get to work? How on earth would I swap my wardrobe from boots and jeans to pumps and pencil skirts? The worries started piling up but the support I received from everyone here at the ranch was very comforting and reassuring. Just as I have mentioned before about the good Lord always taking care of me, He didn’t fail to this time either. Within two days I had a place to stay and a vehicle to borrow. I am so grateful and blessed that His plan for me is so exciting!

Whether they realized it or not Garnet, Lyle and Sam played key roles in helping me through this stressful week. Mr. and Mrs. Perman were critical in finding a place for me to stay and Sam helped too in simply being the funny young man he is. I learned to rope, splice wire and was pushed out of my comfort zone to help in tagging some new calves during the evenings. Sometimes we need someone to push us to do something a little frightening on our own to teach us that we are capable of more than we think.

Now, a bellowing momma cow's muzzle up close and personal or, in some cases, literally against your cheek can be a little nerve-racking when you’re tagging and taking samples of ear flesh for BVD testing. However, just as with the new internship situation, when you have people you can trust to take care of you or, in the cattle scenario, guard you from potential harm you realize that trust in yourself begins with trust in others.

People and opportunities will come into your life to prepare you for all that lies ahead. Make sure you take a moment to realize that there is always a purpose and that nothing is a coincidence. These recent experiences have strengthened my trust in others and thus increased the confidence I hold in myself. Thanks goes to that friend, who with a few words and without even realizing it, has helped me to embrace all the adventures that lie ahead.  

There’s A First Time for Everything

There have been a number of “firsts” for me since my time on the ranch. I made my first loaf of homemade bread with Miss Garnet, I operated a “mustang” (Skid-Steer) to auger fence holes for the first time and I have now had the exciting experience of seeing snow!

While I was excited to finally address Anna of Arendelle’s question, “Do you want to build a snowman?” with a big loud “YES” (and with Sam’s help), the Perman family and citizens of Walworth county were more excited about the highly welcomed moisture for the land. After several repeated prayer requests for rain, the Lord came through two-fold (as in my experiences He typically does) and provided more than four inches of moisture for everyone.


Any of you familiar with cattle production could probably suspect that we at Rock Hills Ranch are in the middle of calving season. Luke, Lyle and Sam check cows multiple times every day to keep record of new calves and the condition of the herd. I am familiar with this and for me, checking cows was not a first.

The beautiful white snow I got to experience could not have arrived without the cold and wet conditions the came before it. Those conditions however, increased the frequency and importance of looking over the herd's new additions.

What was another first was my introduction to a “hot box”. For anyone who doesn’t know, a hot box is a mechanism used to warm cold and wet calves in less than desirable weather conditions. It ensures they are safe and out of harm’s way in regards to adverse weather. Sunday night, I went out to help Sam return a calf that was sufficiently warmed by the box back to its mother. We sunk down in our Muck boots, layered on clothes and I borrowed Miss Garnet’s more appropriate winter wear on account that a Floridian does not usually possess a parka-type coat.

Sam and I went to the barn with gloves on hand and retrieved the calf. As I drove the Gator through the rain and sleet, he held the young heifer in his arms until we reached the shelter in which the mother was waiting. With this came my first time in transporting a calf like this and my first time sorting Momma cows in the dark. The thick and slippery muck made it difficult for us to move swiftly amongst the mothers. While the flashlight provided enough illumination for us to read the numbers on the ear tags, the bodies of the large bovines were nearly invisible.  As the harsh weather came down, we located the mother and placed her in a panel pen with her calf.

Driving away from the pen I started thinking about what we just did. The harsh conditions, the late night and the numerous challenges that could have presented themselves were just one instance with one calf. It is thanks to this experience for my first time I truly, I mean really developed a deeper sense of appreciation for cattle ranchers.

IMG_0743These men and women care just as much about their cattle as they do their families. They help  their spouses in providing a home and meal for the children, put them to bed and head out to take care of the herd that is so precious to their life. Those nights, the nights like the one I just shared happen more times than we can count. The ranchers stay up late, or check cattle on the hour through the night to ensure the safety and health of the herds. Then they wake up in the morning to their families, eat breakfast and go back out before changing quickly to make it to church on time for facilitation of worship and communion services.

In a society that possesses so many misconceptions about this industry, it is firsts like this that ignite in us the passion required to keep driving forward and sharing all the good that agriculturalists have to offer to our world. I look forward to the first time many others find a new appreciation for cattle ranchers and agriculturalists alike, and hope that maybe for the first time, I will be responsible for just one of those realizations.