Sunday Column: A letter to this baby…

Last weekend Husband finally got a chance to get off the ranch and out of the basement building project to load up the pickup and head to the big town so that he could participate in the very exciting/horrifying/intense process of learning all about the birthing process in a class we took through our hospital.

Now I’m not going to be what you might call a young mother, and lately I’ve started to realize my extra years of experience in this world has made me increasingly aware of reality…i.e. the older you get the more you realize that shit can go wrong and shit does go wrong and if it doesn’t go wrong it isn’t always easy so it’s best to be prepared.

In my younger days my ignorance was my bliss. But I guess those days are gone. Because I know just enough to worry, and not enough to feel prepared, I decided it was a good idea to take this class and take some notes.

And so off we went. My husband and me and this baby bump of ours on what will likely be one of the last overnight outings we take together before this baby makes his or her arrival.

Seven hours of lessons and questions and video examples and breathing and I am holding on to my initial idea that it’s nothing short of a miracle that anyone survives the process of being born.

We walked down the street to grab lunch and said “I can’t believe we’ve arrived here. I can’t believe we’re at a frickin’ birthing class. I don’t even feel like us.”

“I know,” was all he could say back.

We felt like normal people there. Like a normal couple having a normal baby and having the normal questions and normal worries.

We weren’t the couple with the infertility problems. The couple who have been fighting to be parents for almost 8 years. The couple who lost six pregnancies before this.

No. Now we’re the couple preparing for the birth of our first born. And my back hurts. Oh shit my back hurts. And after walking around Menards for three hours yesterday before we heading home with supplies for the basement and the nursery, my ankle bones are stiff and creaky. I take a bite of a granola bar and my heart burns up to my throat. I’m having crazy dreams. I get up to pee about every fifteen minutes…you know, all the things that happen to a woman when she’s busy growing a healthy baby. All the miserable things I’m happy to be experiencing.

Because at the end of all that pushing and breathing and contracting we learned about last weekend, at the end of my waddling stage, my nesting stage, my stretchy pants stage, we will get the greatest gift of all. And if I learned anything in the years that I’ve settled into adulthood it’s that sometimes the fighting and the suffering and the worry and the wait make the best things better.

We can’t wait to find out.


Coming Home: Dreaming of baby and all she could be…
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

Dear Baby,

Last night I dreamed you were born. A girl with a thick head of dark hair, tiny and perfect. As I held you, the hospital room filled with grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors, all the people who love you already.

I opened my eyes to the dim light streaming through the tops of the autumn trees, stretched my arms above my head and felt you move inside my belly.

You’re not born yet, Baby.

You have two more months to grow.

We have two more months to wait before we get to know you.

Baby, you’re making my back ache and my ankles creak with the physical weight of your impending arrival. I walk around the house in your dad’s flannel shirts, and he laughs at the sight of his wife groaning as I bend over to pick out a pan for supper or put my hands on my no-longer-existent hips to ask him what’s so funny.


But he’s not laughing because anything’s funny. He’s beaming. He can’t help it. The thought of you growing healthy and strong out in this world seems to put actual light in his eyes.

I guess that’s the twinkle they talk about.

Because you’re such a beautiful mystery, a journey we only dreamed to travel. A wish we hold our breath for.

And now, after seven years of hoping, in two months when you draw your first breath in this world, we will finally be able to let ours go.

And still we’re not ready. This house on the ranch we’ll bring you home to is still only half finished. The basement is covered in sawdust as your dad scrambles to put up walls and wrap up loose ends for your arrival.


I have your crib and a chair to rock you still sitting in unopened boxes next to the tools in the garage.

Your nursery is still my office, with papers and guitars sharing the space with a box of your bottles and a dresser full of outfits and blankets your grammas and aunties already bought for you.


You’ll learn that about us, Baby. That we we’re not the most organized people, but we have big plans, and our big plans make messes. You’ll find as you grow up in this house with us that the dishes will wait in the sink if the day is too beautiful to spend behind closed doors.

You’ll find that some days we track in more dirt than we sweep away, and that our work and commitment out here on this ranch will keep us from long vacations and big fancy toys because we want to take care of this land so that you can grow up with mud on your boots and fresh air on your face while you learn all you’re capable of.

But in the midst of all the challenge and heartbreak that you’ll find in this life with us, I hope you’ll find that I play more than I vacuum, sing more than I holler, hug more than I scold and through it all we can laugh, even on the messiest days.

And I hope you grow to like our cooking and that there might be some things we can teach you, because believe me, Baby, we know you have endless lessons to teach us.

And, Baby, I want you to know that I’ve loved your dad since I was much too young for things like that. And so you can imagine the fun we have picturing you and how our qualities might combine to make up the person you’ll become. For all the time spent in my belly behind my guitar, he wonders if you’ll come out singing.

I worry you’ll be wild like him, turning my hair gray with your affinity to drive too fast or climb too high.


Boy or girl? Blond hair? Brown eyes? For years we have dreamed you a thousand times, a thousand different ways, but none of it matters. You’ll be perfectly flawed, perfectly imperfect, like us and unlike us in so many ways, the only person in this world we love before we’ve even been introduced.

And we can’t wait to be introduced.


“Work (Girl)” Official Music Video Release

The first video off of my Nashville Album “Northern Lights” is one of my favorite songs on the album.

Northern Lights Album Cover

It’s an anthem to working women, written while I was shoveling scoria in the driveway, determined to get a job done while thinking, with the rhythm of the shovel, about the women who raised me and what life must have been like out here at a time without running water, or a deep freeze.

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A woman’s work, across all parts of the country, is a complicated balance of finding the best way to provide time and resources to her family, flexing her muscles in all corners of her world, whether in the office, the kitchen, the boardroom, on the back of a horse or behind a book during her children’s bedtime.


There are plenty of songs written for the working man, the backbone of America, but I felt women needed an anthem. Because their backs are in the game too. So I made one.

During my live shows I invite the little girls to come up on stage to dance and show me their muscles. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to show their spirit inspires me.

I hope this song and video inspires you too.

A special thanks to all the real working Western North Dakota women featured in the video. And to the Pioneer Museum of McKenzie County for providing access to the old photos that represent our working women heritage.

 “Work” is available on
CD Baby

 Work Girl 2

Sunday Column: A new season…

Screen shot 2015-09-21 at 12.02.21 PMYesterday was cow gathering day on the ranch. I helped pull burs from the horses’ manes and sprayed flies and waved as my sister, husband and dad loaded up the trailer and headed for the hills.
It’s roundup season and I’m in my stretchy pants working on the finishing touches of growing this baby (and online shopping and eating everything I can touch).
It’s been a beautiful fall with temperatures in the mid 70s and the colors changing nice and slow. And while the best way to experience it is on the back of the horse, I’m happy staying on foot, wandering the hills and looking forward to the day we can get this baby up on his own horse.
So that’s what this week’s column is about. A little reflection on roundup season and spitting wild plums at my little sister as we followed behind our dad. She used to have a white pony named Jerry who would, every once in a while, decide he needed a break and spontaneously lay down and try to roll her and the saddle off his back.
He was a shit.
But so was she sometimes…so they were a good pair.

Ah, I love this time of year.

If you need me I’ll be out taking pictures…

And if you have a reliable pony to sell, well, we’re in the market…

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Coming Home: Ever-changing seasons make me feel alive
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications 

This season change is so predictably unpredictable, sneaking up on us slowly in the middle of a hot summer day and leaving with a strong gust of wind.

This year it seems to be settling in despite the heat. The trees that were first to display their leaves are the first to change their colors this September. I’m reminded it’s nearing roundup season, and I have a flashback of spitting plums at my little sister on her pony, Jerry, as we ride side by side toward the reservation.

I’m bundled up in my wool cap and my dad’s old leather chaps braving the cool morning and a long ride through coulees, up hills, along fence lines and under a sky that warmed the earth a little more with each passing hour.

I would strip off my cap first, then went my gloves and coat, piled on a rock or next to a fence post for easy retrieval when the work was done.

Moving cattle, even then, never felt like work to me. Perhaps because I was never the one responsible for anything but following directions and watching the gate — a task with the perfect amount of adventure, freedom and accountability.

It was during that long wait from when the crew gathered all the cattle in the pasture and moved them toward my post that I would make up my best songs or find the perfect feather for my hat.

And while this year my growing belly and precious cargo have kept me from the back of a horse, my adult role working cattle hasn’t changed much.

I’m the eternal watcher, the girl who makes sure the cattle don’t turn back or find their way into the brush or through the wrong gate, left to my own devices while the guys head for the hills.

And even if it all goes awry, even if the cows head for the thick trees or go running the wrong way past the gate and down a hill and the plan morphs depending on the attitude of a herd of bovines, around here I’ve always found it a pleasantly hectic adventure.

And I’m feeling compelled to live it in my head today, knowing it’s a ritual I’ll miss this season, pulling on our boots to sit on the backs of horses swatting at the sticky flies with their tails on a calm and sunny morning that promises to turn into a hot afternoon.

Each month the pastures change — a new fence wire breaks, the creek floods and flows then dries up, the ground erodes and the cows cut new trails, reminding me that the landscape is a moving, breathing creature.

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And I’m the most alive when I’m out here. I follow behind the guys making plans for the day and look around to notice the way the light bounces off of cowboy hats and trees slowly turning golden.

I find my direction while my husband cuts a path through the trees and Pops lopes up to the hilltop to scan the countryside.

I move a small herd toward the gate and wake a bull from the tall grass at the edge of the pasture.

Pops comes up off the hill to join me, the cattle he’s found moving briskly in front of him. We meet up, finding my husband waiting at the gate with the rest of the herd.

And that’s how it goes, the three of us pushing the cows along: Pops at the back of the trail counting and taking mental notes, my husband on the hillside making sure they turn the right way, and me watching the brush.

The sun warms our backs and sweat beads on our foreheads as we head toward home, talking about lunch and the fencing that needs to get done that day.

And the deer population.

And a pony for my nephew.

And the weather and the changing leaves and all of the things that need discussing when you’re on the back of a horse, on the edge of a season, on a piece of earth that’s constantly changing, even though, year after year, out here, I always feel the same.

And the weather and the changing leaves and all of the things that need discussing when you’re on the back of a horse, on the edge of a season, on a piece of earth that’s constantly changing, even though, year after year, out here, I always feel the same.

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Inside this body. Outside this house.


Fall is creeping up on us, slowly changing the leaves on the trees from green to gold and bouncing the weather back and forth from 90 degrees to 60 in a matter of 24 hours.

Last night we had a nice, loud thunderstorm that dumped a good soak on us. It tamed the dust and softened the crispiness of this season.

But before it rained I went out wandering in the hills to take some photos. The wind was so still, the temperature was perfect and I liked the way the overcast sky looked like a blue blanket above us.

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I’ve been moving a little slower lately and the bending over to capture the small details of the landscape leaves me huffing.

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Give me a month and this slow walk will have turned into a full on waddle, but I just can’t stand to stay inside, especially on these beautiful days.

In the moments I have to myself in these last months of pregnancy, I can’t comprehend how our lives are going to change and I can’t help but visualize taking this same walk next year with a baby in tow, or waiting back at the house with Husband while I take a moment…

Because it’s always been the moving, the walking, the riding, the driving, that’s kept me motivated and inspired.

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Soon I know our lives are going to slow down and speed up all at the same time and adventure will take on a whole new meaning.

For now I’ve charged myself with trying to enjoy what’s left of carrying this kid along inside of me… the kicks, the heartburn, the plans for the nursery and this body of mine that finally got a chance to show me what it can do.

It can climb up the buttes and grow a human at the same time. That’s pretty miraculous.

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It’s nature at its finest and that’s just the sort of thing I marvel at outside the doors of this house every day.

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Sunday Column: An advanced apology…

There’s not much more to say about this week’s column except that I find it sort of interesting how I decided to plant my first garden in the same year I’m pregnant with my first baby.

There’s a little juxtaposition between putting seeds into the ground unsure of how it all might come together come August or September and finding two lines on the pregnancy test and praying for smooth and healthy nine months ahead.

And month after month it’s grown a bit more difficult to bend my body over to weed, hoe and pick the growing things…because it turns out the season has been good to us…all we needed was a little sunshine and water.

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P.S. I’ve been looking for some different ways to use up my bean collection. Here’s a good recipe I tried last night. And while my main dish didn’t turn out as planned, these beans made up for it.  Loved them!!

Oven Fried Garlic Parmesan Green Beans

Coming Home: Garden gloating just a precursor to baby boasting
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

If this baby is growing as healthy as this little garden I planted outside my window, I’m telling you, you’re going to want to steer clear of me for a while. 

Because if I can get this obnoxiously proud of my straight, plump, perfect carrots, you can just start rolling your eyes now at all of the declarations of the cute chubby legs, perfectly round cheeks, the smiles/burps/giggles/hiccups and other regular adorable baby things that I am sure to exult about ad nauseam in your presence.

So this is your warning, your apology, because I’ve gotten a glimpse of the extent of my ridiculous pride this season as I tended to the little seeds I planted way too late in the summer and watched them, marveled at them, as they pushed up through the black dirt to become big, flowering plants that now—hallelujah!—are bearing all sorts of fruit.

Catch me out at the bank or in a coffee shop, and I’m warning you I will find a way to bring up my overzealous cucumber crop, offering up a bag of veggies to any acquaintance I meet.

Because I have cucumbers growing out of my cucumbers, beans appearing overnight and thousands of tomatoes just growing green and plump, taunting me and testing my patience as they take the time they need to turn red.

And apparently, this natural phenomenon that occurs when most gardeners put a seed in the ground turns me into some sort of proud garden momma who wants to shout “Look at this CUCUMBER!” from the rooftops.

While this is my first time growing a healthy baby, it’s not my first time growing a healthy garden. I was a 4-H kid, you know.

But now I’m a grown woman with a patch of dirt in my own yard with vegetables growing under my complete control and care and dang if it doesn’t turn out I have a green thumb, despite all of the wilty houseplants I’ve had to bury in the garbage over the years.

“Look at these CARROTS!!!” I declared, waving a bunch over my head like a trophy, sending black dirt flying toward the relatives who came over for an innocent visit turned garden harvest where I forced on them bags of beans, cucumbers, carrots and a lesson on how you need a dog to keep the deer out, a rigorous watering schedule and oh, you need to plant the radishes with the carrots, as if this gardening thing has everything to do with my knowledge and skillset and nothing to do with nature’s good dirt and sunshine.

I am nauseating and it turns out I just don’t care who I drive crazy in the process, including Pops, who called up last week to see how things were going and to finally admit that my garden came in better than his this year and “Dang it, it just p***es me off.”

That was his exact quote as I grinned and strutted around the kitchen on the other end of the line.

Because he voiced his doubts earlier this summer when he looked out at my dirt patch at the beginning of July.

And so did I.

But not anymore. Because look at these TOMATOES! This is my CALLING!

Till up the hillside, honey, next year I’m pulling out all the stops. Next year we’re planting corn and potatoes, strawberries and peppers, and I don’t even like peppers. Squash and pumpkins and gourds for the season; watermelon and sunflowers and marigolds next to the tomatoes to keep the bugs away; onions and herbs and a partridge in a pear tree and there I will live all summer long, me and this baby, weeding and hoeing and inspecting and marveling and obnoxiously making plans to can, dice, blanch and slice just like Martha Stewart herself.

Because look at this CUCUMBER! Now that’s a cucumber.

Yes, me and the earth and the sky, we made this and aren’t we good?

And if you think these pea plants are gorgeous, well, just wait until you meet my baby.

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

Sunday Column: Staying young and dancing…

Today I have another trip to the big town to visit the doctor, hear the baby’s heartbeat and make sure things are moving along in all the right ways.

Yesterday was the official transition into the third trimester, and I’ll tell ya, things are getting real…and so is the heartburn.

And while we wait to welcome the new arrival into the family, our family just keeps growing as both my little sister and Husband’s little brother got married this summer.

We celebrated my brother in law’s wedding a few weeks ago and after getting stuck in the bridesmaid’s dress a few weeks back in an attempt to make sure the thing fit, I found myself a seamstress and things seemed to zip up alright…with not much room to spare.

But that wasn’t the only thing we needed to do to prepare for this wedding. No. Me fitting my belly into the dang dress was the easy part. Because my nieces had an idea…a flash mob family choreographed routine to interrupt the mother-son dance, and they had been working on the steps all summer.

And so we were charged with doing the same.

So that’s what this week’s column is about. How the whole family joined in to follow these girls’ lead in the name of fun and how these nieces of mine continue to remind me of what it was like when I was young and the world was my stage.

I can only hope this little one of ours has as much spark and spirit as these three blondies…

Coming Home: Dancing nieces delight mom to be
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

When Pops came into the house on a hot Sunday afternoon in July, he didn’t find the typical scene of my husband and I fixing lunch, tinkering with a project in the basement, folding laundry or sweeping floors.


Instead, he heard Bruno Mars blasting from the speakers, turned the corner in the hallway to find the living room furniture pushed up against the walls and three little blonde girls leading their gramma, grampa, mom, aunt and uncle in a dance they had been busy choreographing all summer.

Pops stood in the hallway and grinned watching his pregnant daughter and her husband navigate some version of a step-touch, hip shake, turn combination while the 12-year-old, my oldest niece, called out orders to her grampa to “video this so they can practice it!”

It was all part of a master plan my three nieces devised to surprise my brother-in-law, their uncle, at his upcoming wedding with a sort of “flash mob dance” that consisted of the entire family (who, by the way, don’t have any semblance of rhythm or dance gene in our bodies).

When the music stopped and we realized we had a witness to our rehearsal, my husband shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, this probably won’t be the weirdest thing you’ll walk in on over here.”

But Pops didn’t need an explanation. Having raised three daughters, it wasn’t the first surprise dance party he’s witnessed.

Because with kids in the picture, life becomes one big fun, messy idea after another.

I’ve learned that with these nieces of mine, the first one coming into our lives while we were still in college, reminding us that we weren’t ready to raise one of our own, but we were more than ready to love the heck out of this drooling, smiling, beautiful little miracle, draw pictures of princesses on demand and allow her to perform full makeovers on both of us. In return we promised to teach her how to ride horses, how to keep calm when she steps in cow poop with her new pink boots and attend as many dance recitals as our schedules will allow.

And when her younger sisters came along, the same rules applied to them.

That’s the fun part about being an aunt or uncle before you become a mom or dad yourself. You get a relationship with these tiny people from the start and the benefit of learning about what it means to raise them from the person you were raised alongside.

I’ve been an aunt for 12 years (three of them before I officially joined the family) and I can honestly say there hasn’t been a day I haven’t been proud that I belonged to these twirling, cartwheeling, funny, smart girls because they keep reminding me what it was like to be young and full of ideas, the world my stage.

And last weekend when my husband’s little brother said his vows to his new bride, we officially welcomed a new sister and new nephew to the family, and my nieces celebrated the occasion in style with hours of preparation put into hairdo research, dress shopping, shoe swapping and, of course, making sure gramma, grampa, aunt, uncle, mom and dad were all prepared for their big dance debut.

I stood in my unassuming position off of the dance floor by the DJ, clutching my sunglasses prop and watching as the girls took the floor in formation and the music began to play. After months of practice their big moment had arrived, and with all eyes (and a spotlight) on them, they moved through the steps and two by two the rest of the family joined in, taking their lead the way they had planned.

Cameras flashed, family and friends cheered, my husband and I fumbled through the step-touch, hip-shake, turn combination, the surprised groom wiped tears from his eyes, and my three little nieces soaked in every moment, taking the stage to grow up gracefully in front of an audience that simply adores them.

I can’t wait to be a mom if only to have a chance to be a witness to more big, fun, messy, glamorous ideas my nieces continue to remind me still exist in the world.

Bravo sweet girls, may we never stop dancing.

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

photo 2 (6)

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…

photo 3 (5)

Sunday Column: Big, beautiful tries…

Coteau Des Prairies 5
(Photo by Phil Breker)

I am a woman with a lot of ideas.

Like, we should build a big barn and host events.

I should plant a giant corn maze and 1,000 pumpkins and we can turn one of our pastures into a pumpkin patch in the fall.

We should pop out the kitchen wall and give us some more room for cooking.

I should pick ten buckets of wild plums and make jelly for everyone from Christmas presents.

google-ing jelly making

We should have a giant summer music festival at the ranch.

We should get some pigs to raise up so I can have bacon for dinner every night…

Yes. Big ideas. Because if you’re gonna go, go all out…isn’t that what they say?

Now, none of the above ideas have gone past conversations around the dinner table or on long car rides. I continue to nag and hint about the pig thing to my husband, but so far there’s been no convincing him, and really, that’s about as far as any of it has gone.

But there have been some ideas that I have followed through with, particularly the one that has lead to my career out here on the ranch. The one where I write and sing and build my business from a spot of passion, but even as I move through my everyday, I am constantly wondering, thinking, contemplating on how I can grow and do more.


And I am so fascinated by those who have those big, unconventional ideas and boldly take the leap and see what they might do with them.

As a traveling musician I have had the opportunity to be a part of some big and lovely ideas. Just this summer alone I have sang on a big amphitheater in the middle of the rugged badlands that was once only a blueprint,

been a part of a weekly community party in the street that gets bigger every week, shared a stage with local talent celebrating the music of women, recorded an album with a man in Nashville who went out on his own to produce music the way he wanted and have been a part of a special event in a big, beautiful lodge in the middle of a prairie in eastern North Dakota, a place I get to go back to this weekend to perform at a festival they’re hosting.

(Tewauken Music Festival, September 5th @ 2:30)
Coteau Des Prairies
Coteau Des Prairies 6 Coteau Des Prairies 7
Coteau Des Prairies 9And so Coteau Des Prairie Lodge was the inspiration for my column this week, because, well, great, brave and creative people doing great, brave and creative things is what makes life worth writing about…

Coming Home: Dare to try those risky, beautiful ideas
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

Last week I loaded up my car and headed way, way east to a big, beautiful, log lodge sitting on a hill surrounded by cattle pastures and a patchwork of fields.

I’d been hired to play music during a special event where guests enjoyed an eight-course meal paired with cocktails mixed with alcohol made at a brand new North Dakota distillery and demonstrations from a local mixologist on how to make them.

The whole thing was cool. I got to sit behind my guitar overlooking dozens of people laughing, drinking and enjoying the beauty of the North Dakota prairie as it streamed in from the big windows, an architectural idea perfectly planned to make you see and appreciate this special spot.

And between my sets they brought me samplings of food, which meant I got to sing, visit and eat.

Not a bad gig for a pregnant lady, I tell you.

But the most awe-inspiring thing was not the event itself, but how an idea like a giant lodge out in the middle of a beautiful nowhere sprung from a family who loved a piece of land and thought they could give others a chance to love it, too.

And that a risky idea like that could morph into the really wonderful reality that is the family-owned and operated Coteau des Prairies Lodge is one of those dreams I get to experience as part of my job as a musician willing to travel.

Like making vodka and selling it in downtown Fargo. I met the guy who made that dream his reality that night, too.

Last week families all across the country dropped their kids off at college with advice to study hard and find their way. And traveling with them from the comforts of their childhood bedrooms to the uncharted territory of campus or a new job is a young person’s idea of what their grown-up life should look like.

As I sit here behind this computer screen typing out stories or behind the guitar singing them to ears I can only hope are listening, in the back of my mind sits that little voice that occasionally peeps up to ask if finding myself a real job, you know, with an office, insurance and a consistent paycheck in this chaotic world might be a better option.

There have been a thousand days I think she’s right.

But then I hear the other voice that hollers a little louder and I remember why I’m doing what I’m doing, not because it’s the easiest choice, but because she sounds like she has some good ideas that could work, and may be be more fun.

Like the young teacher in my hometown who spends his summers taking people fishing on Lake Sakakawea, giving them a chance to experience the way a walleye on the line makes a heart thump.

That’s a cool idea. And there are a million of them, big and small, coming to fruition out there every day.

Like the food blogger I know who turned a big truck into a place to sell gourmet waffles on the weekend and who once invited me to a beautiful meal she catered for dozens of people in between a tree row and a field.

Or the entrepreneur in Montana who opened up a store that sells work pants for women and hosts a music festival that draws thousands of people to a cow pasture on the edge of a town with a population of only 950.

Or my mom, who late in her professional life took a risk and bought herself a clothing store because it was where she could see herself and her ideas thriving.

And it’s all a risk. I’ve lived long enough to know that. If I could tell those college freshmen anything it would be that not even the most thought out, stable career is a guarantee. We’ve learned that lesson out here, too.

Yes, sometimes ideas are best left as ideas, but sometimes they come to fruition in beautiful, terrifying and surprising ways if you dare try.

And I never would have thought that one of the best perks of my weird job is having the privilege of witnessing some dang beautiful tries.


Sunday Column: Goodbye old friend


We’re quickly coming to the end of another season out here on the ranch.  School has officially started and my friends are posting “first day of school” photos of their kids, some sending their first borns off to kindergarden for the first time.

I’ve been spending time picking peas and beans, cucumbers, carrots and every red tomato I can find out of my garden, fascinated always by how time can transform dirt into food, just like that.


Fascinated by how time has made it harder for me to bend over and pick those beans every day, made those little flutters in my belly turn to jabs and hiccups…and then, soon, an actual tiny human that breathes this air.

Life and time are twin sisters it seems, conceived at the same moment and moving through the world together hand in hand. And just as time creates and grows life in one breath, it quiets it and takes it away in another.


And so it goes here on the ranch, the circle of life we’re made so aware of every day among the growing and withering things, reminding us that to everything there is a season.

Last week our faithful ranch dog, Pudge, gave us the gift of living until old age took her away in her sleep.

My husband came home to tell me the news, then went out to the big oak tree where we were married and dug a deep hole in the hard, dry, gumbo packed earth and buried our old friend.

“One day you will hear the sound of time rustling as it slips through your fingers like sand.” Sergei Lukyanenko

Yesterday I was just a kid shaking dirt off the carrots in the garden.

Tomorrow I turn 32.

Today I count the kicks in my belly, make plans to assemble the new crib in the box and miss that old dog…

Coming Home: Goodnight, Pudge, the sweet, tough cattle dog
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

Lately the coyotes have been howling outside our open windows, slicing the black silence with chilling wails. Inside the garage, our domesticated dogs rise from their beds, lift up their heads and howl back to them, long and dramatic cries, an unnerving message sent between the wild and the tame.

Last weekend, while I was out on the highway heading for home after a late show, my husband opened the windows to the house to let in the night air, turned on the porch light and laid his body out on top of the covers of our bed.

Somewhere between his dozing and me cutting through the dark miles, down the road at my parents’ place the oldest cow dog on the ranch took her last breath, and quietly, one of the most familiar lights on our ranch went out.

We knew it was coming. Pudge, an Australian shepherd with thick, wooly fur, one blue eye and one brown eye, came to us on a hand-me-down after her owners moved to town. Pops, who had lost his previous cattle dog to a snakebite, needed a new animal to help him get cattle out of the brush and to accompany him on rides.

We think she was 4 years old when she came to us. Lately, the topic of her age had come up often. I was in college, or on my way there. Could it be that she was 15? Fifteen and no longer possessing the strength to go for long rides with Pops, but holding on to the spirit of her job by making the walk with him to and from the barn.

That was the last walk they took together it seems.

And now we’ll no longer find her snuggled up in the her spot under the heat lamp in the garage in the winter, in the pickup box in the summer or trying desperately to make her way through the window screen and under the covers of my little sister’s bed during a thunderstorm.

Pudge hated thunderstorms. That might have been the dog’s only flaw.

Because it turns out she was just the right combination of sweet, smart and tough enough to be one of the few cattle dogs on this 100-year-old ranch to get the chance to die of old age.

This place can be hard on the strongest, most cared-for animals who live a life more in tune with their primal instincts than the couch-dwelling suburban pet.

Pudge tried out that life with me once. I took her back to live with me for a little while in college when life was overwhelming me. I’d take her for bundled-up walks on sidewalks and she would sit in the sunshine by the door and watch the cars roll by, comfortable knowing she had a purpose in helping me find my big girl legs again before I brought her back to her ranch where she belonged.


Before my husband came home to tell me she was gone, I was pulling carrots in my garden and singing to myself, “To everything turn, turn, turn … there is a season, turn, turn, turn … and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

If you can’t see that manifest itself out here, if it doesn’t become known to you as morning turns to night and summer turns to fall and the hair under your husband’s hat turns silver, you’re not paying attention or you don’t want to know.

It all happens so slowly and then so quickly, as if all at once the time has passed and then it’s up.

I listened to those coyotes howl last night and thought about Pudge, who would sit out at night under those stars, just on the edge of the light that flooded into the yard from the garage. When it was time for the people to lay down and pull the covers up, Pops would call to her to come in and she would pretend not to hear him, preferring a cool bed of grass under that sky to her fluffy bed.

And if Pops gave in and left her out there, she would wake him with her barks and wails to that dark sky for hours on end.

Sweet turned wild in the night.

Goodnight, old friend.