Wanted: April Showers

IMG_1279

It’s been a busy couple weeks at the ranch. The weather has been warm and too dry for comfort and we’re deep into “getting the place ready for Little Sister’s wedding” mode. Which means we have projects, not just in the barnyard, but at our house too.

We’ve got two months and only so many weekends to finish the deck, finish the basement, finish the siding, finish the finishing touches and make a lawn grow where only a single pig weed once emerged.

But first, let’s take a ride on Husband’s new/used dirt bike and Pops’ precious Trail 90. You know, just to blow off some steam…

IMG_5258

Not that I’d ever driven that little motorcycle/scooter thing…no worries, this guy here is good with lessons….But he’s also adorable, which makes it hard for me to concentrate.

IMG_5273IMG_5263

“Just like riding a bike,” he said.

Except bikes have pedals and don’t die at the far edge of the field two miles from home when I finally figure out how to turn and suddenly become a professional and want to start working on a ramp so I can practice my jumps…

IMG_5266

I love you sweet man, and it looks like you’re going to have to get the tools…

IMG_5276 IMG_5278

And the pickup…because me and the Trail 90 are getting a ride home…

IMG_5283

Ok, we can call the sod guy now. Because, after three years, won’t it be kick-ass to have a lawn?

IMG_5288

Yeah, that’s a lot of lawn. Like 7,300 square feet worth.

Like 10,000 tons of grass.

So we called in reinforcement and spent last weekend burning our forearms and getting in our squats in the name of landscaping.

IMG_5295 IMG_5291 IMG_5290

And I’ve spent the rest of the week obsessing over my sprinklers, where they’re pointing and how to aim them without soaking my jeans, drowning or shutting them off.

And the dogs have spent the last five days believing they’ve finally gone to doggy heaven, rolling and sun bathing and napping and dragging dead things on what they seem to think is their own personal, giant slab of carpet.

So there was that.

And we need rain. Not only for my sod, but for the rest of this part of the state that didn’t get the moisture in the winter or the April showers we expect this time of year.

IMG_1262

On Tuesday Husband left work, along with rest of the office, fire departments from three communities, the forest service and hundreds of volunteers to fight a fire near the lake that burned almost 5,000 acres and nearly took out one of our favorite campgrounds and marinas. He came home late covered in soot, stripped his clothes and showered that desperate smell off of him.

The fire was contained and, in the meantime, we just hold our breath for rain and for that pager to stay quiet.

And I adjust the sprinklers, wishing we could turn on the sky with a nob like that, add some tasks to the list in my head before setting it all aside to go out looking for spring.

IMG_1289 IMG_1291 IMG_1295 IMG_1299 IMG_1297 IMG_1303 IMG_1311 IMG_1277 IMG_1273

Sunday Column: Summers that can change your life

IMG_1245

Summer is making a promise to appear once again and I am thinking today about the way life can change in that short season.

When we were younger, summer meant a break, a breath, a transition onto the next phase in our lives, the next grade, the next chapter.

Now that I’m all grown up, it’s changed a bit. Summer means hustle and heat and a chance to get things done around here. It’s not a transition but a season we look forward to so we can warm up and make plans.

But sometimes when you’re in the middle of making plans for your life, your life changes.

That’s what happened to me almost nine years ago today. I opened the classifieds to look for a summer job to get me through the slow months between touring in the spring and fall, and I ran across a job opening for a Special Event planner at a performing arts school in Fargo, ND.

I was a year out of college, planning a wedding and getting ready for the rest of my life. The job was going to be a stopover, a temporary position, a stepping stone to the happily ever after.

Turns out on my way I found what have become some of the most important people in my life. I fell in love with them between flipping burgers, moving picnic tables and changing the lights in the porta potties. They made me laugh while we worked our asses off in the 104 degrees of the hottest summer of my life.

trollwood friends

And when that summer was over, we just held on to each other. Not out of some master plan to never lose touch, but because we liked each other. Because when we meet up we get a break, a laugh, a chance to be our true selves together before rushing back off into the real world, the one we were imagining that summer, the one that we never seem prepared for.

The one that’s a lot easier with these friends on the other end of the line.

We’re scattered all over the mid-west now, married or paired off or single, but we meet up when we can. Just a few weeks ago it was flinging ourselves down a mountain in Colorado.

It seems we always find an excuse to drive or fly in the direction of each other.

And so I was thinking about my friends when I wrote my column this week. I was thinking about them and so I wrote about them,  but maybe didn’t get to say exactly what I wanted to say in the end. Because it turns out it’s hard to conjure up words to describe how lucky I am to have found a set of people who are just so perfectly themselves that they make me believe in all different kinds of love.

And in summers that can change your life…

Coming Home: Stepping stone job fosters lifetime of friendship
by Jessie Veeder
4-12-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Homemade surprises.

IMG_1230

I spent a good two weeks away from this place. After our vacation with friends spent skiing down mountains in Colorado, I hopped a plane and met my mom in Minneapolis where we shopped at market for clothes and shoes and other fun things for her store.

It was a good hiatus from life that was sort of stressing me out, but it was sure nice to get home to the ranch to see how spring was shaping up.

Turns out it wasn’t really. Just snowing and cold. March went out like a lion, because, if you remember correctly, it came in like a lamb, so that’s what we get.

It took me a few days to get caught up on life around here, and then Easter rolled in and well, there it was, Tuesday afternoon and I had yet to take a look around the place.

Because it’s crocus season.

So after my work was done enough for the afternoon, I took a little walk out to see if I could find any that survived the melty snow.

But before I could even get outside our yard, I ran into these beauties…

IMG_1191IMG_1181 IMG_1183  IMG_1195 IMG_1197 IMG_1199

Yup, the elk came for a visit, down across the bottom of Pots and Pans, heading toward the dam right outside our door before they caught wind of me and this beast…

IMG_1200 IMG_1202 IMG_1203 IMG_1206

And while I know the elk live around here, because I see there tracks on my walks, catch the places where they bed down at night or linger on a stray hay bale in the fields, it’s still quite something to see them right in your yard.

I took a breath and held it and watched as they ran away up over the hill, hoping that I didn’t ruin their plans for a drink. Hoping that they might come back later.

Then I took another few steps toward the little hilltops where my sister and I found the first crocuses last year. Searching the ground as I walked, moments later I looked up to find the rest of the herd following suit, another pleasant and quick surprise.

IMG_1207 IMG_1208 IMG_1210 IMG_1211 IMG_1216 IMG_1217 IMG_1220 IMG_1223 IMG_1228

These animals on this landscape are so imposing. In the mountains they look smaller, dwarfed by the magnificence of the peaks, but here on the rolling hills they are the kings, the largest wild animal you’ll find roaming free. And they take my breath away each time.

I wished there was someone next to me to witness it. And then I was glad it was just me.

I had been missing this place. Life and tasks and deadlines were getting in my way. I stepped outside to see what I could see and nature delivered.

But even after such an unexpected show, I was still thrilled as I always am in early April to see these pretty purple flowers again, reaching through barely thawed ground to promise me summer…

IMG_1231 IMG_1234

Before getting rolled over by the gremlin of the farmyard…

IMG_1255

IMG_1238 IMG_1240

Oh well, to live out here you gotta be hardy. If anything, the crocus teaches us that…

IMG_1245 IMG_1246

I’ve traveled all over the place, but home, at the beginning of spring, is still my favorite place full of the best sort of discoveries…

IMG_1261  IMG_1266

Happy places, happy faces.

If you  need us come find us. We’re out exploring some beautiful country with some beautiful people.

But first I has to make a stop to visit some presidents who have been my neighbors for years, and still we’ve never met… 

      Then on to Colorado to meet up with some of my favorite people and fling ourselves down some mountains.  

 

   

  

           

    The mountains in Breckenridge Re beautiful but even better are these friends of mine.

These people are my happy place.   See ya back home in a bit!

Peace, love and snow pants, 

A concert in the badlands (and a chance to win free tickets) 

Ever wanted to take a trip to western North Dakota?

Well then it seems it’s time to visit the beautiful Medora in the badlands of my home state on July 18th. I’ll be performing on the Burning Hills Amphitheater, a stage dedicated to a nightly outdoor musical every summer night set against the backdrop of the painted buttes.

Medora was one of my first stages and the first place I performed an original song, so this concert, in conjunction with the release of my new album, Northern Lights, is extra special to me.

Know what else is cool? If you comment on Medora’s Facebook link with your favorite Jessie Veeder song, you’ll be entered for a chance to win free tickets!

This week’s column is about what it meant to me to be given a chance to sing on this bustling little tourist town in the badlands when I was just a 12 year old ranch kid.

Coming Home: Medora concert a return to where it all started
By Jessie Veeder
3/21/15
Forum Communications

Buy your tickets today!
http://www.medora.com/countryconcerts/

I hope to see you there. I can’t wait for you to hear the new songs!

At the Farm and Fleet…

IMG_1133

One of the most worthless things on the planet are rubber boots with holes in both.

I own a pair and, well, there’s nothing worse than squishy toes when the mud is so nice and ripe for mucking around in.

Because we’re not out of the woods yet in this whole winter thing.  And that’s ok. We need the moisture, and I need a few more chances to learn my lesson about mud.

Anyway, so I need a new pair of rubber boots, which gives me a good excuse to go to the Farm and Fleet store.

I love the Farm and Fleet store. Any Farm and Fleet store there is, I don’t care. There’s just something about the racks of work gloves, the spring seeds, the paint, the plethora of barn jackets, long underwear, dog kennels, tack and brushes, fly spray, heat lamps, medicine, fencing supplies, tools, generators, extension cords, lawn furniture and toy farm animals that make me feel like anything’s possible.

I could spend hours browsing and dreaming of a perfectly organized tack room, or a summer spent in a light, long sleeved snap shirt and this cute Carhart cap right here.

In Farm and Fleet I become another woman in my head. The kind of woman who would raise chickens in a coop built with all these damn supplies and tools surrounding me!

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.46.35 PM

I’m the kind of woman who would raise and feed those chickens to collect farm fresh eggs for farm fresh omelets on any old regular weekday morning.

I am the kind of woman who could butcher one of those chickens to fill our freezer and then take it out to whip up a batch of delicious homemade noodle soup or chicken and dumplings if we happen to have unexpected company.

Boiling Chicken

In the Farm and Fleet store I am the kind of woman who wears an apron and shoes her own horses.

In the Farm and Fleet my horse becomes something better too. Better groomed. No burs. Never even saw one in his life because he exists in our perfectly weather proof stable. His hair shines like the sun because, well, Show Sheen! In the Farm and Fleet I’m the kind of woman who buys it buy the barrel.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 9.02.07 PM

That and fancy tack. The kind with silver on it. Because, well, at the Farm and Fleet, only the best for my horse with the Fabio hair.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 9.00.13 PM

In the Farm and Fleet store I am redecorator. A barn painter. A farmer with a garden that could feed the neighborhood.

And I can everything. Like meat and beets and corn and carrots. Because at Farm and Fleet you can buy a book that will show you how to do it.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.48.28 PM

And when I’m done canning, I will train my dog to herd the cattle into a nice group and load them up into the stock trailer on command. Because there’s a book for that at Farm and Fleet too.

IMG_0906

Then I’ll buy myself a nice pair of leather gloves, because a woman needs a good pair that fits for all the fences I’ll be fixing… for all the weeds I’ll be killing…for all the dirt that needs tilling and the piglets I’ll be raising…  and the mud I’ll be slopping around in this spring…

Because a woman like me, well, she…oh yeah…she needs new rubber boots…

IMG_1140

IMG_1138

IMG_1148

IMG_1151

IMG_1154

IMG_1153

IMG_1150

IMG_1157IMG_1155   IMG_1163 IMG_1166 IMG_1167 IMG_1169

I can’t be trusted with spring…

Summer arrived here for a minute or two this weekend.

And when summer arrives, I can’t be trusted.

I drink more alcohol because it tastes better on the deck.

I eat grilled brats for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I blow off chores and work to get on the back of a horse.

And, I, uh, well…

photo 1-8

I do shit like this…

Because I lose my mind out here when the weather thaws the ground. There are so many fun things to do and not enough time to do them, so I tool around the place looking for projects that inevitably turn into predicaments…

predicaments like these…(Cue Prince Charming…)

photo-104

photo-105

photo-103

No worries though. Despite my idea that I should drive, followed by my insistence that I was trying to avoid the mud, and the thought that maybe, after a few minutes of rocking back and forth and flinging mud into the atmosphere, my mouth, face, hair and everything in between, we should, you know, go get the pickup and a rope, Husband and I saved the machine from its muddy, messy grave…by man power (and woman thumb on the throttle) alone.

photo-102

Here’s hoping that you had a similarly successful, summery weekend of your own.

Coming Home: Muddy March a sign of bright days ahead
by Jessie Veeder
3-15-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

photo-106

Larry on the Prairie

My brother-in-law and his family have a bulldog.

IMG_1012

His name is Larry.

IMG_1060

And despite the fact that he is ginormous and looks like a fat 95 year old man, Larry is just a puppy.

And sometimes, when my brother-in-law and his family go away for the weekend, Larry comes to visit.

IMG_1024 IMG_1026 IMG_1027 IMG_1030 IMG_1033

Larry really has no business being on the ranch. He’s physique is much better suited from couch lounging, nap taking and watching life happen from the house-side of a window.

But don’t tell Larry that.

Because Larry don’t care.

Larry does what he wants.

IMG_1078

(I know this, because when I try to get him to do what he doesn’t want to do, he locks up his legs and makes like a 100 pound bolder, literally refusing to move. Larry knows that he’s heavy as hell. Larry’s not as dumb as he looks.)

Yup. This is Larry.

And I call this photographic series of glamours shots, “Larry on the Prairie.”

IMG_1035 IMG_1036 IMG_1051 IMG_1055 IMG_1057  IMG_1069 IMG_1070 IMG_1073 IMG_1074 IMG_1076   IMG_1084 IMG_1085 IMG_1086 IMG_1087 IMG_1092 IMG_1107 IMG_1109 IMG_1112 IMG_1115 IMG_1117IMG_1079

You’re welcome world. You’re welcome.

Sunday Column: We’re just kids in cars

snowy road

A few weeks ago, in Western North Dakota, three teenage boys were driving home together from a basketball tournament when the pickup they were in hit an icy patch on the highway and slid into the path of a semi.

None of them made it home that night.

When news of a tragedy like this spreads to our small town and rural neighborhoods, our hands go to our mouths and our hearts drop as we think of their families and remember our own losses.

These three young boys, though I didn’t know them, have been on my mind and on the minds of those across this state, which seems to get bigger and smaller all at once as we reach out and connect in our shared stories and experiences.

After this column was published I received email after email from those who were remembering someone they lost, or those grieving, or those comforted by reading words that were on their minds.

Thank you for those notes. The human experience is as tragic as it is beautiful and I am fortunate to have an outlet in which I can reach out and express my personal thoughts with the hope that they resonate with someone.

Your words back to me mean the world to me. It’s the reason I keep attempting to put thoughts down week after week.

Because we need to know that we’re not alone out here in this unpredictable world.

Coming Home: We’re just kids in cars
by Jessie Veeder
3-9-15
http://www.inforum.com

A second with Gus the cow dog.

And now for a split second with Gus…IMG_0923 IMG_0927 IMG_0929 IMG_0930 IMG_0931 IMG_0932 IMG_0933 IMG_0934 IMG_0936

Gus, the cow dog is energy embodied. Every minute is the best day of his life.

IMG_0972

And every minute of his life is chaos.

IMG_0944

Because he never sleeps.

IMG_0920

I swear it. I think I saw him sleep once when he was a tiny baby sitting on my husband’s lap, and that was after several minutes of the man lovingly forcing the pooch to snuggle with him.

And once he might have caught a good thirty seconds on the floor of my office because I provided him with such a nice blanket not even a terror tornado like him could refuse the pull of slumber.

Gus isn’t really into snuggling.

IMG_4468

He’s more into face licking, lap standing, and jumping three feet in the air upon your arrival. It doesn’t matter if you saw him two seconds ago. Every greeting from Gus is filled with the enthusiasm of a best friend you haven’t seen for years.

Come over at any given moment and you might find him tormenting the cats, ripping up the bed in his kennel, eating the cord to the heat lamp, attacking the broom when I’m trying to sweep, barking at the sky, eating cow poop and horse poop and cat poop and chewing on Brown Dog’s fat neck, then jumping up and over his back relentlessly, barking and taunting the poor old dog until he finally snaps …and then you will hear Gus The Tough wail the wail of a thousand deaths.

Because Gus has one other feeling besides happy. And that’s his hurt feeling.

IMG_0922

It’s pretty traumatic.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with him. I mean, I could teach him anything if I could only keep up with him. He’s smart as a whip. He comes back in a split second on a quick whistle. He sits when asked, and I’ll take it, even though he trembles and shakes the entire time as if the energy in him is bouncing around in that body poking and prodding and begging to be released.

IMG_0906

And when he makes his ears stand up like this, well, be still my heart. It’s frickin’ cute as hell and I can’t take it.

IMG_0910

He looks like a gremlin.

And well, he sorta is…

IMG_0904

Who knew this tiny little grunting fur ball that fit in the palm of my husband’s hand would turn into such a specimen…

And he’s only been alive for like six months.

Oh Gus, it’s fun to watch you grow. And I can’t wait to see how many woodticks/burs/mud/cowpoop you collect when summer comes.

Until then, let me reminisce you back to when you were small and innocent, when you peed puddles on the floor and weren’t such a threat to my cats… seriously, you need to go easy on those cats…IMG_4390 IMG_1573 IMG_1591 IMG_9881 IMG_0044 IMG_0027 IMG_9964 IMG_9958 dogs

IMG_9807 IMG_9805 IMG_9749 IMG_9948 IMG_9947 IMG_9950 IMG_8940 IMG_8972 IMG_8942 IMG_8882 IMG_8878 IMG_8591 IMG_8615  IMG_8596 IMG_8585 IMG_8575 IMG_2708 IMG_7938 IMG_8007 IMG_7973IMG_8608

Gus, Gus, Gus…such an adorable bundle of energy and trouble brewing…

If you need us we’ll be out in it…

IMG_0941IMG_0951  IMG_0961IMG_0954