BB Guns, Potty Training, the lack of full Body Helmets (and plenty other reasons to freak out…)

IMG_4072In 90 days, give or take, we’re having a baby. The picture may look sweet and collected, but you can’t see the sweat beading up on my eyebrows or the cankles forming in the 90 degree heat.

As I sit here and type this the little bugger is stretching and punching and kicking and wiggling and making himself known.

photo (2)I got a baby sling/carrier thingy in the mail today. It’s mom’s birthday gift to my husband. Because he might have said something about putting the baby in a backpack and I’m sure she wants to give him a safer alternative…

Don’t worry mom, I think he was joking…

I also have a crib in its box laying on the floor of the garage. My husband has used it as a place to set power tools and boards on his quest to hurry up and finish the damn basement before this baby turns 18 and graduates.

Gus uses it as his resting spot while he’s watching Husband work.

We have 90 days, give or take, until we get our shit together enough to get that crib out of its box so it can be used for its intended purpose.


I’m sorta freaking out.

Now I know that you are all going to tell me that I don’t need anything, that it will all come naturally, that it’s a blessing and so worth it and don’t worry, you’ll be fine.

And I appreciate your positivity. In most moments I believe you. I am pretty sure we’re capable of handling this. I’m mean, we’re not the first and only people in the world to bring a new baby into their lives, humans have been doing this child-birthing-to-rearing thing since the beginning of our existence…

But…shit’s getting real. I’m sure you’ve been in this phase before, all of you calm, cool and collected mothers out there who know what you’re doing by now.

I’m sure you’ve sifted through the files of information they send home with you on your doctors visit, the ones filled with diagrams on breastfeeding and all the numbers you can call and classes you can take and videos you can watch to prepare yourself to keep your infant alive.

And that’s just one step in the process. Apparently you still need to call some numbers, examine some diagrams, take some classes and watch some videos on how to get them in a car seat, how to swaddle them, how to burp them, how to track the amount of poop they poop, the amount of pee they pee and let us not forget the most important task of all…how to get them out into the world.

That’s a big one. I’m not sure I’m prepared to watch the video on that one yet…

This morning when I woke up Husband to inform him that we have 90 days give or take until we have this baby, this is what he said.

“Yeah. And we can never send this baby home with his parents. Because we will be his home. And his parents.”

Hello. That’s what I’m saying!

And then he told me not to freak out. I grunted and rolled out of bed to pee for the thirty-seventh time in eight hours, mumbling some great comeback like “No you don’t freak out…”

But as the day drags on I’ve found more reasons to worry…which led me to a little game I’ve been playing to combat the anxiety.

I call it “Freak, Calm Down.”

And this is how it goes: When I come up with a reason to freak out, I combat it with a reason to calm down and be excited…and then I feel better.

Example 1: 

Reason to Freak Out: This baby will eventually grow up enough to start jumping off of my furniture and falling down all the steps we thought were a good idea to put in this house. I need seventeen baby gates and a baby-sized body helmet. Do they even sell baby-sized body helmets? I haven’t seen one on Amazon…

Reason to Calm Down: A baby demolishing my house is a baby no longer punching my bladder.

See how it works? Shall we move on?

Reason to Freak Out: This baby will obviously be a blood relative of my husband, who turned out great in the end, but had a few stints with a paintball gun, BB Gun, a couple calls from the cops, a couple rolled ATVs, several broken bones, an incident with a fish hook and a body part, countless hospital visits and a few 100 MPH drives in his Thunderbird along the way.

Reason to Calm Down: This baby will also be a blood relative to me and I was perfect, of course, never did a damn thing wrong…so there’s hope of a balance.

Which leads me to…

Reason to Freak Out:  It could be a boy

Reason to Calm Down: It could be a girl

Reason to Freak Out: 3am feedings and countless sleepless nights

Reason to Calm Down:  A good excuse to go home from a party before 3am

Reason to Freak Out: I have no idea what I’m doing

Reason to Calm Down: Neither did my mom. She let me wear leotards every day for a year and I have to say, I turned out ok…

Reason to Freak Out: I don’t yet have a diaper in the house!

Reason to Calm Down: I also don’t yet have a baby in the house…

Which reminds me…

Reason to Freak Out: This kid will have to be potty trained eventually and that is a class that falls under the non-existent category of “how to do your taxes” and “what is insurance” in our educational system.

Reason to Calm Down: I’ve never seen a Kindergardener wearing diapers…

Reason to Freak Out: The baby’s room is still currently my office and I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel that is going to change its status anytime soon.

Reason to Calm Down: I have faith in my Husband’s ability to pull through on our plans at the last minute. And we still have time. 90 days give or take….Plus, I don’t foresee me putting this baby down for the first few weeks anyway, let alone getting any work done, so who needs an office? Or a crib? Right?

Which brings to mind the cold hard truth…

Reason to Freak Out: This baby has to come out eventually

Reason to Calm Down: This baby will come out eventually


And then…

Reason to Freak Out: Siblings?

Reason to Calm Down: If we get to this point we’re talking about another, it means we must have survived the first…

And that’s where my head’s at today…

Peace, Love and Heartburn,

The Scofield Family

A cucumber crisis and a recipe for garden soup

photo (1)We’ve been through this before, but I have to tell you again. I have a cucumber situation.

And I owe you all a thank you for sending me along some great cucumber recipes to try to use up some of these veggies that multiply by ten every time the sun goes down and comes up again.


My other vegetables are coming along nicely, like at a regular and controllable pace. Need a carrot or two? Perfect, just head to the garden.

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Want fresh green beans? It seems just the right amount are waiting for me.

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But the cucumbers are out of control. I only have three plants and the fruit they are creating has now taken up the refrigerator in the garage and the one in the house.

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No room for milk or ketchup. Nope. Just cukes.

Last night Husband and I enjoyed a cucumber and bacon sandwich with a side of noodle, bacon and cucumber salad.

It was delicious.

I think I’ll have it for my mid-afternoon snack.

Last week I tried to get rid of some by offering to make a big batch of cucumber salad for my brother-in-law’s rehearsal dinner, but my other brother-in-law beat me to the punch. Apparently he has a cucumber issue himself.

Tomorrow I have plans to drop off a bundle to both my sisters in town and then maybe I’ll sell them on Ebay or something. Or bring them to the nursing home. I don’t know.

I will tell you that earlier in the season I did make one of your recommended recipes. I am not one to have many ingredients around, because, well, you know I’m 30 miles from town, why the hell would I plan ahead, so I picked one with the least amount of ingredients and fuss and proceeded to feel like Martha Stewart regardless.

Shelia recommended this one:

Soak cukes in salt water overnight (after you have peeled and sliced about three of them). 
Mix drained cukes with about half a cup of sour cream
A teaspoon of vinegar and 
A small onion, sliced. 

Mix well, cool and eat. 

So that’s what I did. And then I put it in a Tupperwear to take with us on a little anniversary picnic to the lake a few weeks back.


So Shelia, congratulations, you made my life with these cukes a little more manageable and so you are the winner of the Jessie Veeder Music package (I’ll send ya my new Nashville album “Northern Lights” and a couple other fun things). Watch for an email from me soon.

But there were so many great recipes shared with me. I’m especially hankering to try Barb’s Sliced Refrigerator Pickles, because, well, the only thing that sounds better to me than bacon right now is pickles. And cukes are just pickles in training, so I’ll let ya know how that goes :)

In the meantime, I wanted to share a family recipe with you as a thank you. Mom made it for me as a birthday meal, and I’ve had it a few times when I was a little girl living close to my great grandmother in Grand Forks. Great Grandma had a big garden out back that my dad used to help her care for and grow. He spent a lot of time in there as I recall, probably missing the dirt and the growing things helped him feel closer to his agricultural roots while he was stuck between the sidewalks.

Anyway, this recipe runs in my great grandma’s family, on my mom’s side, and it is a perfect way to celebrate all the vegetables that we harvest at the end of the summer.

Aunt Maebelle’s Garden Soup

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These photos won’t do it justice because I had to use the camera on my phone, but I’ll tell you I love it because it uses lots of butter, but you don’t feel so bad about it because, you know, you’re also getting a healthy dose of fresh vegetables too.

The only thing that would make it better would be to add bacon, but that’s just me.

Here’s how you get it to come together:

  • Get out your 8 qt. or 12 qt. stainless steel soup kettle (Maebelle was very specific)
  • Dice 3 LARGE sweet onions (the “heart” of this soup)
  • Melt a 1/2 stick of butter in the soup kettle and add onion and saute slowly until they are soft (but not browned). It will take a while
  • Add 6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed and 6 large carrots, peeled and cubed to the onion an cover all with 3 cups of water. Cook gently. Stir.
  • When the carrots and potatoes are partially cooked, add 1 pound of yellow klax beans (summer only) and 1 pound green beans (fresh or frozen). Beans should be cut up in 1/2 inch pieces. (See what I’m saying about the specifics?)
  • Add lots of fresh chopped flat leafed parsley and lots of fresh dill (or dry dill weed)
  • Season with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper (to taste) (Going against Maebelle here, but if you have a favorite seasoning salt you can go with that too)
  • When the above has cooked, add a can of cream style corn and stir
  • (Now here’s my favorite part) Add 1/2 stick butter and let sit (not cooking) for 1 hour or so. (This seems weird, but it’s the rules)
  • Bring heat up and add 16 oz package of frozen petite peas
  • Add 1 1/2 quarts of whole milk (she was known to slip a little half and half in also)
  • Adjust to your own taste. Try not to add more than 3 cups water. Maybe more milk (or I say, some heavy cream)

photo 1 (5)Now, when I flipped the recipe card over I discovered that Maebelle often made “bullet” dumplings to add to this soup. I have never had this soup with dumplings, but I’m gonna try it. But for now, I think I’ve given you enough to simmer here.

My only regret is that it doesn’t call for cucumbers. But if your carrot and bean crop is healthy and your fridge if full of butter, you’re halfway there.

Happy gardening friends. I’ll call you all when my tomatoes finally turn red. I have a feeling this will be another vegetable outbreak in need of taming…

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Sunday Column: On diapers and carseats and general panic…

Last week I received this text from a friend.

Little did she know that I already have that part down.

It’s all I’ve been doing lately. I mean between the Parenting magazine I got delivered for a cent an issue because I bought maternity leggings at a pregnant lady store, the daily reminders from (notarealwebsite) or whatever that I am now at 25 weeks and should be thinking about painting a nursery or taking another picture of my growing belly or deciding what kind of nursing bra I should wear and, of course, all the time I’ve spent on searching for the safest/cheapest/best/most stylish diapers/cribs/blankets/socks/onsies/carseats/strollers I am fully convinced that

A. Almost everything that I buy is either going to make my baby’s head flat


2. There is no one product anyone can agree on when it comes to keeping a baby completely safe, unless it is a full body helmet, which I haven’t come across yet in all my time spent on Amazon, but I’m sure it’s out there being invented by some nervous mother as I type…


III. I have no idea what I’m doing.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 1.56.50 PM

See what I’m saying?! Terrifying.

Yes, I have to say that all this access to information via the world wide web, talk radio and whatever morning news show I happen to catch is getting to me. I am at information overload and the only thing that’s keeping me sane is the actual human to human connections I have with moms who have done this before.

I tell you, their advice is way less scary and confusing. Because it’s mostly this: “You can’t plan for everything because it will all hit the fan and you are going to be just fine…as long as you have diapers…”



Deep breath.

And so that’s where my head was when I wrote this column last week. It was swarming with product reviews and advice and a constant prayer up to the sky for a little guidance on raising a happy, healthy baby…

Because I screw a lot of things up. Most things actually. I’m impatient and I don’t pay attention because I am impatient and my mind is always wandering and I’m not like those moms who were just born knowing the right way to hold and bounce a baby or with a strong tolerance for boogers and snot.

Boogers and snot are like my one aversion and as far as I’ve learned so far babies come with an unending supply of boogers and snot…

Yes, I’m awkward and worried this won’t come so naturally…and that I will run out of diapers like I run out of toilet paper…unexpectedly and in the middle of nowhere…

So diapers. I should be focusing on diapers…


Coming Home: New baby’s happiness won’t depend on stuff.
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

I listen to a lot of talk radio. It drones through the speakers while I sit behind the wheel of my car on my way to town or to a show or to the grocery store and back. 

If you need an opinion, you will find it out there on the airwaves. Tune your ears to the universe, to the World Wide Web, to the TV or radio and you’ve got an answer, hundreds of different answers, no matter what answer you want.

And today I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all. Because it’s making me feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.

I mean, just because we’ve been planning on having children for seven years doesn’t mean we’ve spent seven years figuring out the safest car seat, the best all-terrain stroller with built-in cooled and heated cup holders, the baby swing that won’t flatten out her head and the best and most certain ways to ensure our child’s chance at becoming a millionaire so when she has a child of her own she can afford all of the stuff that apparently we need to raise a kid these days.

I’m spending half of my time frantic to know everything and the other half annoyed that everyone’s overthinking it.

I see a baby bathtub I like, read the online reviews and find out it’s not big enough, soft enough and doesn’t come with the Jetson-style auto baby scrubber that you need, therefore it’s crap and it will make your baby’s head flat (I’ve found that’s a running theme).

Didn’t my mom just wash me in the kitchen sink next to the noodle strainer?

I’m not the president or anything, but did I not live and thrive despite having a childhood void of a surveillance security system in my nursery?

When we get down to it, all this stuff is just a means to a common end result — to raise happy, healthy babies into happy, healthy adults.

And if I’m not mistaken, happy healthy adults existed back before they invented the wipe warmer or DVR.

Which brings me back to all that talk radio I’ve been listening to, because last week the word “happiness” was being discussed at length; how we lack it, how to achieve it, how to help our kids find it.

It was interesting timing because the day before my friend and I were visiting about how different it will be for us to raise our own children in a time when everything’s so structured. Your kid wants to play hockey? He better be on skates as soon as he learns to walk. She wants to dance? Buy her jazz shoes and schedule private weekend lessons. Because if they don’t start honing their skills early, they won’t be successful, and doesn’t success equal happiness?

The lady on the radio chimed in to answer that question. She said when she thinks of childhood happiness she thinks of playing in the backyard, having parents that laughed, listened and made her feel safe, and free time to lay back on the lawn and ask questions about the clouds.

While the two of us were thousands of miles and generations apart, it was one of the first relatable and reasonable things I’d heard on the airwaves in a while.

She didn’t mention one thing about the stuff we need or the plans we must make to get us there. I could have reached through the radio to hug her.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I remember my favorite book and the day I got my first 10-speed bike. I remember those things making me happy, but only because that book meant a bedtime story from my big sister, and that bike meant I could go have adventures with my best friend up the hill.

And I liked basketball and 4-H and most of the other structured experiences that helped grow me up, but I liked them sprinkled in with spontaneous water fights and mom’s lasagna at night.

You know what I don’t remember? The color of my crib bedding or if my mom used a fancy bottle steamer sanitizer thingy.

So I think I’ll buy a couple of cotton onesies, turn off the radio, take a walk and continue on this happiness quest.


Sunday Column: On love and rotten egg bakes…

Love is in the air this August. Husband and I will celebrate our 9th anniversary likely with brats on the grill and a drive to check the cows (because we’re romantic like that) and at the end of the month, his little brother will say “I do” to his new bride.

This weekend I attended her bridal shower, assured her that I will be able to zip up my bridesmaid’s dress and then picked up an ice cream cone for the drive home.

Because after the cake, I guess I was still hungry…

And delusional.

But being in the middle of this summer filled with vows and love celebration and right on the cusp of my life with my husband changing forever, I’ve been thinking about what it really means to make a life together.

I think every wedding brings this up for me. Because we start it all out with a party, and, well, somewhere between the champaign toast and death do us part comes the really good stuff, the really juicy stuff, the really tough stuff, and sweet stuff,

and funny stuff and gross stuff and stuff you’d rather not mention.

After nine years now I think I can confidently say that love and respect is the only common denominator that runs through our wedded veins day after day. The rest? Well the rest is a crap shoot.

And so in honor of the month I thought I might resurrect and rehash an old post for the newspaper column, the one where my husband lovingly left me a surprise three week old egg bake in the cooler in the heat of the summer…and I contemplated packing up and moving to a fort in the trees.

Because love and marriage is a weird, messy, lovely, frustrating journey…one I’m glad to be on with a man who is strong, handy, playful and forgetful with the best of intentions…one who makes mistakes and tolerates mine.

Coming Home: Love endures, even when it’s hard to like each other
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

It all starts with the best intentions. Most housekeeping tasks around here do. Unfortunately, they generally also end with me questioning the meaning of life, love and why I don’t just live by myself in a fort by the creek like I planned when I was 10 years old.


Because sometimes your husband leaves an uncooked egg bake from a camping trip he took three weeks ago floating in a cooler filled with beer and warm, mushy, cloudy, curdled water, and you get the privilege of being the first to get a whiff.

Nothing says love like pulling on your muck boots, turning on the hose and testing how long you can hold your breath.

I love my husband every day. I just don’t like him every minute.

I know for a fact that he feels the same way about me.

I’m telling this story now because in a few days we’ll celebrate our nine-year wedding anniversary. And as my belly grows and our future together teeters on the edge of uncharted territory, I can’t help but reflect on the life we’re having between those “I do’s” and the whole “death parting us” thing.

So far it looks like a combined force of mistakes and small tragedies, goofiness and bad ideas, opinions, forgetfulness and big plans in the works.

But that’s what you get when you’re in it together. You get a witness and a built-in dinner date who sometimes is really late to dinner.

You get a man who takes off his work boots and stinks up the entire house, but you also get a man who will drive around the countryside for hours every day looking for your missing dog, not because he particularly likes him but because you do. And that quiet gesture makes up tenfold for the stinky socks. And the late-to-dinner thing.

But forget the even score because from what I’ve learned, there is no even score. I work late and ruin his fishing plans. He takes out the garbage and I forget to get groceries until we’re both eating saltines and wondering when the new Chinese food restaurant will start delivering to the ranch. I unload the dishwasher, he never remembers where I put the spatulas. I am thankful I married a man who uses a spatula.

No, the chores are never equal because life might be a balancing act, but it sure as heck isn’t balanced (except when it comes to dog puke on the floor. In that instance, I keep score).

That’s why we’ve got each other.

Because life is so annoying sometimes, but I tell you what’s also annoying, that pickle jar that I can never open myself or the flat tire he’s out there fixing on the side of the road in the middle of a blizzard, proving that regardless of our shortcomings, life is easier with him around.

I hope he can say the same for me.

And then I think we’d both say that love doesn’t mean you will ever agree on the arrangement of the furniture, but love went a long way in laughing it off when he backed into my car and forgot to tell me, leaving me wondering when I had a car accident I couldn’t remember.

And initially, love sent him running when he heard me scream in the other room, but there came a time when he started to wait for a follow-up noise because love has made the man mistake a stray spider for a bloody mangled limb too many times.

And, just for the record, sometimes love is not patient. Sometimes it needs to get to town and I’m trying on my third dress of the evening.

And sometimes love is not as kind as it should be. Because love is human.

And no human is perfect. Not individually and surely not together.

Because humans leave egg bakes in coolers in basements for three weeks.

Pregnancy: a slow transition into becoming Homer Simpson

pregnancySo that happened this week. My sweet mother making a mockery of a situation that had my husband reaching into his pocket for his leatherman to see if he could make headway on a stuck zipper that split in half the minute it was coaxed, leaving me with no way out of a lacy, delicate, meant-for-a-more-formal-occasion bridesmaids dress and a Husband who followed me around the bedroom tugging up and yanking down with pure determination while I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe and almost peed myself, which would have added an entire new level to the amount of damage control needed to rectify the dress situation before my brother-in-law’s August 29th wedding.

When I finally caught my breath enough to stop wiggling the two of us looked at each other and decided that, well, …..RRRIIIIPPPP….

Because sometimes a pregnant lady’s zipper needs a man’s touch.

And in this case, if I didn’t want to wear it until I was wheeled into labor and delivery, it was our only option.

And that is just one lesson I have learned from five months spent watching this belly grow.

The other new discoveries? My mom has a new found knack for comedy and I have made friends with a new seamstress in the big town.

Because shit is getting real I tell you. And no one is more thrilled to see my shirts getting tighter or hear about my baby-bladder-kicking woes than my family.

Oh, your pants don’t fit? Harah!

Heartburn? Goodie!

I guess that’s what I get for keeping them all waiting for seven years.

And my handyman, dress altering Husband hasn’t found his sympathy card either, despite  my sweet reminders that it is his job as the father of this tiny, bladder squeezing human we created together.

But he has been nice about letting me wear his clothes. In fact, I’m positive he got great joy out of getting me into his overalls to go out and check the cows upon the harsh realization that there was no way in hell any of my work jeans would ever fit over my gut again.


He even suggested that I wear his favorite purple polo shirt, the one I despise, and while I stood in the closet in my bra and underwear contemplating wearing the tent my mother suggested, he slipped it over my head, turned me around, took a picture and then made his third or fourth Homer Simpson reference…

You know, because of my ass to belly ratio.

Which is what it’s come down to now. Me, popping Tums, falling asleep in the easy chair as soon as I sit down, snoring like I’ve never snored before, putting bacon on everything,  burping, pulling over on the side of the road to pee, wearing men’s work clothes and avoiding bending over at all costs.

Belly 2

Yup. Homer Simpson…

Give me four more months and I might take you up on that call to tent and awning sweet, hilarious mother.

In the meantime I’ll take another BLT please…

Peace, Love and potty breaks,

Jessie & the Bump


Sunday Column: The Rules of Fencing

IMG_3349Happy July everyone. My favorite month of the year. I rung it in in family tradition by heading east to my grandparent’s lake cabin in Minnesota to hang with the relatives and do lake things.

And while the rest of the ranch and me were out in Minnesota last weekend frolicking in the water, eating summer sausage sandwiches, lounging in the sun, taking in the fireworks displays, DSCN3428DSCN3433DSCN3420 DSCN3417  DSCN3414

and trying to balance two Veeder girls and a baby bump on a paddle board…


Husband had to stay home to work and take care of the cows.


Now, don’t feel too bad. In the summer, with the tall green grass and plenty pasture land, taking care of the cows really just means making sure they don’t get into the neighbors field.

And that’s pretty much it.


I was feeling guilty a little bit, except that I know the man is fine with the responsibility, especially since his recent purchase…the two-wheeled cow checker–for when you’re pretty sure the cows are in, but just want to zip around to make sure so you probably don’t need to go through all the trouble of getting the horses in and saddling up.

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It’s the perfect tool for a man who has the heart and spirit of a twelve year old…


And so that’s what Husband did this weekend. He mowed the grass and worked on wiring the garage and finishing the basement and he checked the cows.

And, not surprisingly, a few were out.

So he got them in. With the dog and a dirt bike.

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And then, as it would tend to go, while he went back to check the fences for the undiscoverable holes, he looked behind him to witness one feisty and athletic old bovine, the one he just put back in her place, making a leap back to the other side, like a 1,500 pound mule deer.


Because sometimes even the best cowboys with the best dogs, the best forms of transportation and the best fences cannot tame a cow convinced that the grass is greener…


Coming Home: Rules of fencing, the never-ending chore, are never forgotten
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

There are jobs at the ranch that are truly enjoyable at times. Fencing is generally not one of them.

Fencing at the ranch involves wood ticks, nasty brush, a kazillion horse flies, barbed wire, pliers and a lot of bending over.

And if that doesn’t sound pleasing enough, ranchers get a little extra comfort when they pull on their flannel jammies at night knowing that they are never at a loss for work as long as they have barbed wire fences.

Some of my earliest memories as a ranch kid are of hopping in the pickup on a hot July day with my dad to go check fences.

I remember leaning against the stick shift of the old truck as my dad drove slowly down the fence line, stopping every few moments to get out, grab a staple or new fence post and make a repair. I remember eating warm ham sandwiches, sweating and swatting the buzzing bugs that multiplied in the thorny brush patches where the fence was always down, the poke of the barbs and the hum of the Clint Black song coming through the am radio of the old work pickup.

But mostly I remember being hot.

And so as long as I live, I will never forget the 10 (or was it 11) basic rules of fencing the Veeder Ranch, because monumental and never-ending tasks like these leave an impression on a kid.

1) Choose to take your trip in the heat of the day. It’s not a smart option, but the only option for procrastinators who like to have coffee, bacon and eggs, and then another helping while they catch the end of CBS Sunday Morning.

2) Intend to apply a thick mist of Deep Woods OFF to ward off the hawk-sized bugs, and then forget to bring it along as you head miles into the wilderness. Because how else would you be able to really test how much buzzing and biting a human sauna can endure?

3) If you think you may need five to seven steel fence posts to get the job done, be sure to only locate one to take along. Because a man needs a challenge, and figuring out how to re-stretch a half-mile of wire using a rusty plier, reused fencing staples from 1918, a pocket knife and one measly fence post is the type of feat only a real Renaissance/MacGyver-type specimen can handle. Which brings me to the staples …

4) Forget them in the shop.

5) But for the love of Martha, don’t forget the dog. I mean, running for 3 to 4 miles at top speed behind the four-wheeler to a location void of water or an adequate breeze is the perfect death-defying act for a cow dog. Go ahead, just try to leave him behind, but don’t be alarmed when he pops up over the hill and makes a beeline to the tiny bit of shade the midday sun provides off of your small ATV.

And while you’re at it…

6) Forget to bring your good leather gloves. Instead, pull on the pair with the hole where your right pointer finger is located. Because the No. 7 rule of fencing just happens to be …

7) Bleed. You’re not fencing until you’re itchy, poked, stabbed, bruised and bleeding.

8 ) So make sure to bring company. Because if a man cusses in the pasture and there’s no one there to hear it, is he really even angry?

And if you’re cussing anyway, you might as well …

9) Sweat. Sweat out all that water that you forgot to pack. Sweat so you must roll up your sleeves just enough to expose your flesh to the thorns you must reach into to yank up trampled fence.

10) And then bleed again, cuss louder, sweat a little more, turn around to find that your companion has disappeared over the hill to pick wildflowers, decide that only a really smart and athletic cow could maneuver through your fence repairs, head home for lunch with every intention of returning after the meal only to revisit the site the next morning to find those extra plump, extra lazy cows are in the field again.

11) Repeat until the ground freezes.

Peace, Love and Fence Posts,



Sunday Column: Getting it done in the Wild West…


Oh my, we had such an amazing weekend here at the ranch. I can’t believe I’m even (barely) awake today as we all come down from the high of friends and family and celebrating it all.

And I intend on telling you all about it, about the beautiful day, the beautiful couple, the food, the adorable ring bearer and flower girl…


and of course, the dancing,  but first I’m  going to share the column I wrote last week in the hectic whiz and whirl of planning and cleaning and trying to get work done with no internet and no phone in the middle of the wild west.

If I sound a little stressed and frustrated I blame it on the nice cocktail of time crunch, deadlines, road construction, horseflies, heat and hormones…

But don’t worry, we’ve all calmed down a bit now…


Coming Home: Busy road, slow internet, both inconveniences in the Bakken
by Jessie Veeder

Pink Road

I pulled my car over on the top of the hill at the approach next to the gate where there’s usually a white pickup with a company logo idling and a man inside checking his phone or writing in a notebook. Usually, I see them there and shake my head in annoyance, wishing they would find another place to park, as if the county road going through the ranch belongs to us only.

Because it seemed like it used to anyway.

But now these once quiet roads have turned into a sort of autobahn, not just for transporting oil, water or random equipment strapped to flatbed trailers, but also the men and women who have places to go.

And while they’re going, they have work to get done.

Because the men behind the wheel on these roads don’t take many breaks, unless it’s to pull over for a phone call or to enter numbers on a laptop plugged into the console of their pickups, a regular mobile office right there on that approach on top of the hill next to the gate.

This is the reality of the weekday workday, not in town but out at the ranch these days. And while the wheels on the portable offices kick up dust on the road above my house, I sit in my back bedroom-turned-office and write about it, report on it, and make phone calls to tell its story.

And then, just as I hit send on one of those timely and important emails, the Internet cuts out.

I don’t panic. This happens a lot. Because no matter how fast we say it has changed out here, things like reliable high-speed Internet 30 miles from town are still a mystical dream of the future.

I’ll just communicate the old-fashioned way and pick up the phone.

But there’s no phone.

And so it’s a Thursday afternoon, I have a deadline, and two of my three links to the civilized world have been taken away.

My third link? Driving an hour in 30 miles of road construction to an office I can access in town, because we’re in the middle of progress, dang it, and progress means a little suffering along the way … and a little ingenuity and resourcefulness.

I thought of those guys in their pickups on that approach on top of the hill next to the gate and I grabbed my laptop, cellphone and notebook, pulled in to where I got a good cellphone signal, tapped into my hotspot and spent a good hour or two getting work done in my own mobile office.

Fast-forward to the weekend when my husband and I attempted to haul a little tractor from the ranch to Williston, N.D., and found ourselves along the highway with a flat tire on the old trailer and an even older spare that didn’t fit. Six phone calls later we landed a contact with a new tire business open past 2 p.m. on Saturdays, drove back to that trailer along the highway, and got it done.

And in between it all I’m arguing with the post office about a pair of my husband’s very important and needs-to-be-here-like-yesterday khaki wedding pants that got lost in the mail. Because it’s a long and winding road to the Wild West. Especially when you’re a pair of khakis coming from New York.

Turn in Road

Sometimes the Wild West just isn’t on my side.

Yes, some things would be undoubtedly easier if we just put this house on wheels and moved it to the suburbs of Minneapolis, where people don’t get flat tires, always have reliable Internet and don’t have to sit in their cars next to cow pastures to get a cellphone signal.

But, oh, the sweet clover smells good these days, even alongside a busy highway changing a flat.

Even without Internet.

Because this is not Minneapolis, even though these roads are no longer ours alone.

But if we stay on course, they will undoubtedly be smoother, the Internet will be faster, and the mobile lives kicking up dust above the house will get a little easier every day.

In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be on a hill somewhere trying to get some work done.

Calf on Road

A horrifying story


Ok, so it’s beautiful outside right now, green and warm and it’s fixing to thunderstorm the way we’ve been waiting for, and I should show you a bunch of pretty pictures of it and lament about my favorite season and all that…but it just isn’t in the cards today.


Because today I have to tell you a horrifying tale that involves my mother and a glass of wine.

Better get under your blanket, because you’re going to want to pull it over your head in a minute here.

So my family spent all day Memorial Day weekend working outside. Pops, Husband and my Father in Law were building fences, I was pressure washing everything I could pressure wash because I love shit like that, and my momma was planting flowers at her house.


Well, I don’t think I have to mention it again, but when you’re out and about in the grass on a warm spring day you’re bound to get a tick or thirty-seven.

So that’s why when we came in for lunch, we did the regular neck slap, hair scratch, take-a-look-at-my-back-do-you-see-anything check and then went on with our sandwiches and back to our business.

Well, later on that evening, after the whole house was hosed down, enough fence was repaired and mom’s flowers were in pots where they belonged, Husband and I showered up and snuggled down in our house and mom and Pops changed out of their work gear and settled in their comfy chairs to watch a movie.

Pops probably had a little whiskey and Mom poured herself a glass of red wine. She leaned back at her favorite spot on the couch, grabbed the remote and her glass of wine and took a good, long, well deserved sip, pausing for a moment after the swallow to remove what she thought was a little piece of cork stuck to her tongue.

But people. It wasn’t a cork.

No it was not.

It was a tick.

My mom had a tick in her wine and it went into her mouth.


I mean, just recently Husband saw one crawling across my face and kindly mentioned it before it hit my mouth, which was disgusting enough…but not as disgusting as what happened to my mom.

She takes the cake for the most horrifying tick story on the ranch so far.

Imagine that. The woman on the ranch who goes outside the least wins the title.

Good one mom.

Good one.

Spring, wedding and other panic words…


It’s been a busy spring around the ranch. In exactly one month, my little sister will be getting married out here.

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That’s 30 days people.

We have 30 days to get shit done.

Like finish our basement.

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HA! I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that it just ain’t gonna happen.

And that’s ok.

Because we got other things done. Like fences almost built and old sheds almost done being painted, most of the junk cleaned up…what else do you want from us really?

Because in my experience, the only thing that really gets finished in my life around here is the work done by people we’re paying.

So Pops has hired someone to build him a new barn. That’ll probably be finished in a month. So there’s that.

She should have the wedding in that.

Hell, it’ll be finished! I should live in that.


Anyway, so that’s what’s been happening around here. A little panic and some work.

And also, it snowed on Sunday. So there was that.

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But it also rained, which was nice, resulting in some neon like grass…I mean, look at my grass!!!


and more leaves on the trees.


And wood ticks.

I’ve been picking them off of me like fleas. Yesterday I went for a walk and stripped down to flush at least fifteen.

(You’re welcome for the itchiness you’re going to feel now for the next twenty minutes)

And then there’s this guy.


Turns out he’s not getting less insane the older he gets.

Nope. Just more insane.


So I’ve been chasing him around and trying to teach him manners. He’s trying. But the energy. Theres. Just. So. Much. Energy.


Oh, and the cows are here. They came yesterday. As my favorite Canadian songster, Corb Lund says, “Everything is better with some cows around.” I couldn’t agree more.

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So we’ll be riding and checking things…

As soon as I get the burs out of the manes of all 8 horses.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 11.03.40 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 11.04.25 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 11.05.45 AM

Only God and 45 gallons of baby oil can help me now.

Because it’s spring.

If you need me, I’ll be out painting a fence, yelling at a dog, pulling off a tick, watering my lawn or brushing out horse manes.

If you need Little Sister, she’s busy making lists.

If you need Pops, he and Juno will be on his new buggy, looking for holes in the fence.


And if you need Husband, well, I can only hope he’s in the basement, hammering or wiring something for the love of Bob Villa…

Ugh, I’m exhausted…

Sunday Column: WOODTICKS!

This isn’t a new horror story for you my dear readers, but, well, WOODTICKS!


I found one crawling up my bathroom wall this morning.

Last week, when I was in the doctor’s office, I reached up to find one on my head.

The blossoms are blossoming, the grass is getting green, the trees are budding and the little bastards are marching out in full force.


And because all I seem to do lately is pick them off of my pant legs and off my husband’s pants legs, and off my dogs and, apparently, off my walls, I had to write about all the horrifying and encounters I’ve had with them in this week’s column.


Coming Home: Wood ticks the price for wild paradise
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

Upon publishing, it was brought to my attention that I shouldn’t take such pests lightly as they carry diseases and some people have been affected by said diseases in terrible ways. My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered from lymes disease or any other debilitating symptoms that ticks and mosquitos can cause. I know this is a possibility and we work to prevent these encounters as much as possible out here at the ranch. Please, use bug spray, always check you and your kids, know the proper way to remove them should they become embedded, and protect your pets with the appropriate medication.

I don’t want anyone getting sick. I just want all the ticks in the world to die because as far as I can tell in my abundant research, they don’t do anything any good.

But if you can’t beat the scary and creepy things in life, I find it’s ok to laugh in its face…so that’s my tactic. Laughing at the things I can’t control and then flushing the little bastards down the toilet…

Peace, love and springtime woes,