Boot Stories: Winner Winner!

Andrea's Boots (via Twitter)

Andrea’s Boots (via Twitter)

Today my boots hung out on the floor of my car while I traipsed around town at my big girl job in some big girl heels.

I raced around the pavement checking things off of my “To-Do” list so I could get home and announce the winner of what has been the most fun we’ve had on this blog since Cowboy’s last Kitchen Adventure.

When I asked you to share stories and photos of your favorite boots, I had no idea I would get such a glimpse into the spirits and hearts of my readers. When I said “It’s the boots that make the woman,” I didn’t know how right I was. Who knew that our boots, in whatever shape or form they may be in, could hold such connections:

To our family history: 

Jess Boots

Jess’s Boots

Jess: These weren’t my first pair of boots nor have they been my last but every cowgirl had her first pair and I’m glad that my second pair survived. I I have a pair of dad’s boots hanging at my coffee shop, James Gang Java. Often people will ask about them. After I tell their story, I often will produce my little pair and show them how young we are when we get started wearing boots. I’d like to go back in time and spend a couple of days in those little boots and look around at my world then. A lot of stories could be told about the times we have had in our cowgirl boots!

To our love: 

Marnie's Boots

Marnie’s Boots

Marnie When we first dated, my husband and I used to kick around pawn shops and thrift stores of (old) downtown Fargo. He was the only cowboy I’d ever known, and when he dug out a pair of bent-over double, dirty dusty, scuffed up Acme boots from under a rack of polyester suits, I didn’t see their potential even though they fit. Two days later, when he delivered them polished and buffed, I saw potential. They’re my love boots.

To finding who we are: 

Toni's Boots

Toni’s Boots

shapeofthingstoniI convinced my parents to buy me my first pair of walking boots when I was about 13 years old, and had well-lived in pairs until my mid-20s when I became a much more urban girl and my boots were replaced by office-friendly mary janes, with comfy skate shoes for weekends. Then about 6 years ago I took a long, hard look at my life, packed everything up and moved from urban Brisbane to the little city of Hobart, Tasmania, right at the bottom of Australia.

Hobart has great access to amazing national parks and hiking trails, as well as cold, wet winters that turn those trails into freezing streams that quickly soak through socks and joggers. So I bought myself these boots and I started walking. In re-discovering my childhood love of the outdoors I re-discovered myself. I got out of a marriage that was destroying me, I moved to a tiny cottage, got seriously into gardening and started seriously becoming the person I’d always wanted to be.

In 2012 I set off for a travel adventure in South America, and my boots carried me from the coastal bohemia of Valparaiso to the desert dust of San Pedro de Atacama and up into the spectacular Andean mountains around Cusco, where I fell in love with Peru as well as a certain Peruvian. Eight months later my boots came back to Cusco with me to follow my heart, and spent many happy hours travelling the cobble streets of the Inca capital, and working in the veggie garden of the orphanage where I was teaching the girls basic food-growing skills.

Back home again in Hobart my boots helped me to keep sane on weekend hikes through snow, mud, dust and rain, while I figured out how to live with my heart on the other side of the world, and in September 2013 they were on my feet as I flew back to Peru yet again, to take up a year-long position working in environmental management here in Lima, my stomach full of butterflies and my heart all over the place.

The guy and I couldn’t make it work, in the end, but the boots and I are still going strong. We’ve trekked up to 4 800 mASL in the Cordillera Blanca, we’ve visited ruins from long-vanished cultures.For the princely sum of 20 Nuevo Soles (about $8 US) I got the holes worn through by my heels patched and my patched-up boots were on my feet again when my patched-up heart and I wandered through Cusco again recently and shared a moment of healing with a man I’ll always, always remember.

They’re almost 6 years old now and they’ve covered a lot of ground, but there’s life in my old boots yet. They’ve outlived three pairs of pricey hiking sneakers and I’ve learnt that no-one can bring out the shine in them like a Peruvian street boot boy. At the end of my project here in Lima I’m hoping we can adventure together through Patagonia for one more grand South American adventure before I head back to Tasmania and work out just what comes next in my life. These boots are my freedom, my adventurous spirit, the wonders I’ve seen and the paths I’ve chosen to tread. Dear old friends who’ve never left a blister, their passing will be mourned, though long may they live on as planters in a happy garden somewhere.

Or expressing that we’ve known it all along.

A story that reminded me of my own little sister…

Amanda RemynseMy favorite pair of boots aren’t even mine. I realize that sounds a bit Dorothy-ish in the Wizard of OZ, but that’s not the case. I’ve actually never even put on these boots. They belong to my sister, who is 9 years younger than I am. I should have known that she’d be more cowgirl than I ever could imagine when she started sleeping with a three-legged plastic pony versus the teddy bears that most kids sleep with. She became a cowgirl at a young age when she realized that she could put on her bright red with bling (sounding Wizard of Oz-ish again) boots all by herself. These boots didn’t require anyone to tie her stupid laces or help her ensure that they got on her feet. She put them on herself and would go out the door. I’m sure 50% of the time they were on the wrong feet but it didn’t matter to her. She had places to go and adventures to make into a reality. Twenty years later, she’s still rocking some boot of some shade. I think that this early independence shaped her entire attitude, as long as she had her boots, red blinged or not, she was invincible.

Your boots have walked you through starting over:

Kandie's boots

Kandie’s boots

karenrsandersonMy boot story is a little sad…About 15 years ago, I lived in Delaware. I had two pairs of cowboy boots, one pair brown, one pair distressed black. I wore them for years, every day. Then I moved to Albuquerque – again, every day, boots. Then I moved to Minot in the fall of 2010. That winter was brutal, and I had a stinky hot-weather car, so I didn’t get out much, I wasn’t making friends, and I had no job yet. We were warned to get ready for the flood. My son (Air Force) was on special flood duty. My daughter-in-law (Air National Guard) was on special flood duty. I was full-time babysitting my two grandsons. So when my son finally got off, it was THE DAY the sirens were to go off. I had just time to grab some clothes, all my genealogy research, and my books. I lost both pairs of boots and most everything else. 

Stumbled you right into your future husband: 

smartbsolutions boots

Smart B.’s boots

smartbsolutions– I am am admiring your perfect cowboy boots – never even have seen a cowboy bending over a branding fire  and obviously never even owned a pair of such beauties. But still I wanted to share a little story about my boots that involve my husband. The boots that are my all time favorite are a pair of brown leather beauties, made in Portugal and with a most bizarre zipper clothing in the back – they are high and stylish and from the first day I bought them absolutely perfect fit. I have been wearing them for 6 years now (in winter season only). They are part of the story how I met my husband in the Brussels airport back in 2008. That day I had my brown boots on (have just bought them) and a brown leather coat, it was a perfect sunny morning in January and I was driving my friend to the airport. We ladies, have had a couple of drinks the night before to celebrate our last evening together before she is heading back home and of course we were late and totally stressed so I hardly remember the way from my apartment to the airport, but we made it and she headed off to her gate and me I headed out the sliding door of the airport in the sun looking down admiring my then still brand new leather boots I felt such a relief and so happy at the same time – also to see the sun and my beauties and how great I looked wearing them and then, boom, boom, boom, several heavy suitcases are rolling off the trolley and land right next to my boots. I didn’t even look,  just tried to pick up the closest of those heavy bags thinking “Thank God they didn’t scratch my boots!” and right then I hear a very deep voice of a man telling me: “That’s ok, I can handle this, thank you!” Well I had to look up to see who is so rudely refusing my help and there he was trying to pick up all his luggage and stuck it back up on the trolley smiling at me. Well, we started talking and the rest is history! we’ve been together since and this August will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary:) I just felt I needed to share this story about how just a pair of boots become part of such a romantic memory. And btw our cat Trigger also loves those boots in his own way. He has managed to “personalize” them twice to show me that he doesn’t like it when I go out and don’t take him with me:) 

They’ve walked you down the aisle and hung on as you rode across the country on the back of a motorcycle:

Andrea's Boots 2

Andrea B.’s Boots (via Twitter)

Andrea-My all time favorite pair of boots are the boots I wore on my wedding day, last September. They are black with lizard inlay (like the boots your husband got for you) except they are square toes. I think it took me longer to pick out the boots then it did to pick out my wedding dress. Not only did I wear them for the wedding, I wore them on the honeymoon! We took the motorcycle out to the Hills in South Dakota. I love that these boots are so comfortable! Every time I put those boots on it takes me back to that special day! 

Have been sacrificed on your way out of near death experiences:

Kathie-I can’t send you a picture of my favorite boots because they’ve been lost. I was very young, maybe 5 or 6, and my parents had bought me my first pair of boots; they were red with green trimmed tops. After a few days of owning them our neighbors came over and of course we children were sent outside to play. A game of follow-the-leader soon developed and I was blindly following my friend when she ran over the pit the milk cows’ urine drained into (fondly known as the piss pit). It was fine for her but when I ran over it one of the planks in the cover broke and I plunged into it. She quickly thought to sit on my hands and yell for help. My older sister came running, tried to lift me out and failed so ran to the house to get my dad. He and the neighbor guy came running and pulled me out to safety but my boots were, sadly, left in the piss pit for eternity. To top things off, Mom wouldn’t let me into the house to bathe so I ended up in the water tank and THEN we had to clean the water tank so the cows didn’t get ill. I still remember those boots fondly and have never seen a pair like them.
Some have been abused by your best friend:
spottedfeatherfarms boots

Lisa’s Boots

Lisa Tucker ( So, there I was sleeping soundly (well I guess not that soundly) when I hear munching coming from the kitchen. I go in, flip on the light and what do my eyes see? My Cocker Spaniel “Gunner” having a 3 am snack of my new 2 week old Justin boots!!!! I gasp! I’m in shock! Am I having a nightmare!? Gunner looks up at me (mid chew, mind you) with an expression of “can I help you with something”? All I can say is OMG Noooo! I grab the boots and just want to cry. Now Gunner is only giving me side glances. Damage is done so what could I do but regain some composure and try to find the humor…

I know own a pair of customized Justin Boots that I still love and wear daily, but occasionaly still have flashbacks.
He even signed them. I feel so privileged…

And some of your most precious boots haven’t even been purchased yet.

Little Man’s first pair…

megansredbarn –As you know… I too share a love for boots… I’m pretty sure that’s what makes us such good friends!

I would like to say that my favorite boots are my wedding boots that are so scuffed, my husband bought my me new “should be” favorite snip toed, wing tipped boots. But they aren’t. They aren’t even my fabulous Corral boots, that a sales lady at the only “western” store we could find in the Minneaplis area, thought were “vintage”… I’ll take that as a compliment! I can’t even say my favorites are my most fabulous Muck Boots anyone has seen because I “girlified” them with some awesome fuzzy boot covers that my mother in law gave me for Christmas one year.
I have to say that my favorite pair of boots are a pair that I havn’t purchased yet.
I believe my favortie boots are going to be the 1st pair of boots that my Little Blessing, Ellie, wears. For some reason, out of all the cute clothes and gifts that she’s recieved, we havn’t recieved a pair of boots yet. I’m thinking it’s because that’s something that her and I are going to get to share together. Maybe our Bestie-Jessie will even be able to join us in the fun… and to Jake’s dismay, pass on our love for a good pair of boots… For every occasion!

Mandy's Boots

Mandy’s Australian Boots (via Facebook)

Yes, there’s a lot of soul in those soles….

I wish I could have you all over for that hike, now more than ever. But more than that I wish I could give you all a free pair of boots!

But alas, the winner of the drawing has to be announced. And if there was anyone else in this house with me I would make them do a drumroll, but there isn’t. And I don’t have drums.

So everyone tap the toes of your favorite boots while I announce the winner of the Rocky Boot Stories Giveaway!


Suzie from Quirky Culture 

Suzie’s name was drawn out of my husband’s smelly old hat (because it’s the hat the makes the man). She shared a beautiful story about how buying her first pair of cowboy boots in Nashville, Tennessee was her first step into a new life.

Suzie, email and I”ll get you on the road to buying your Rocky Boots!

Read Suzie’s story and all of the boot stories shared in the comments of the post “Boot Stories (Prize Alert)” and then head on over to my Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram  and do the same.

Thank you Rocky Boots for the giveaway and for making boots that are made for all sorts of wonderful men and women.

Rocky Logo_Primary

And thank you again for sharing a little piece of yourself with me, the special piece tucked into those fabulous boots.

Peace, Love and the Perfect Pair,

My singing boots!


Spring, around the world!

Happy Earth Day friends! The sun is shining at the ranch, reflecting off the sparkly, melty snow and streaming in the window of this house. I am so happy to see it that I’m pretending not to notice the layer of construction dust it is also illuminating.

It’s a perfect day to share the photos I’ve received of spring from around the world! Your photos were just what I needed to recognize that rain or snow, clouds or sunshine, nature has a rhythm and a reason and never fails to fascinate and intrigue. It seems that no matter the location or climate, all of us have that wonder in common.

So thanks for playing along and sharing a little piece of your world with us. The temperatures are still far below average in North Dakota, but I’ve got my eye on the sky and Cliff the weatherman and am hoping to find some color out there soon.

It was hard to chose a winner and hard not to favor the scenes that make spring more believable, but it had to be done, so a big congratulations to Colleen in California! Your photo of the green hills of your home reminded me of my own in that brief time after the spring rains when the colors seem like a painting.  Pure beauty.

ColleenPhoto by Colleen in California
“Hi Jessie, this is how spring is looking in our part of California.
Warmest regards, no pun intended…”

Send me an email to with your address and I’ll send you a copy of my new album “Nothing’s Forever” and a print of spring at the ranch. Maybe you can hang the two side by side and think of your friend freezing up here in the great white (and sometimes green) north! 

Now kick back and enjoy your images of spring from around the globe, and feel free to give a shout out to your favorite! 

sylvia mindingthefarm.wordpress.comPhoto by Sylvia in the Philippines from
“I took this picture last month (March 8) from my bedroom window in our house in the city. The bird is a Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier). They are very common garden birds. It is eating a macopa. In English it is known as the Malay Apple, Mountain Apple or the Tersana Rose Apple. The fruit of this tree growing outside our window doesn’t seem that sweet though. The birds mostly ignore it.”

Baby with Cherry BlossomsPhoto by my friend Cami in Washington, DC. Baby with Cherry Blossoms
“I snapped this picture when my mom and I took Linnea to the Tidal Basin to take in the famed cherry blossom trees.  She’s in a little playsuit my mom bought at your mama’s store.”

Is it spring yet? Photo by Barb in Kenmare, ND
“Is it SPRING yet?!”

Lois from TexasPhoto by Lois from Waco, TX
 “I was born in North Dakota but have not lived there in quite awhile.  I do remember the snow though.  So here is how spring is shaping up in Central Texas–a little slow, but coming along.  I live in Waco, Texas and I am a wild flower freak.  Here is a photo to cheer you up–taken April 17th, on Rattler Hill Road–one of my favorite places to go “wildflowering”.  By the way, there are no Bluebonnets in the photo.”

Jess PhotoPhoto by my friend Kathy from Alexander, ND
“This was taken one of the first days of spring, 2013, in Tarpon Springs, Florida at a HS classmate and his wife’s home… the greenery did my eyes wonder…it made me long for our Dakota spring green…I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll see it this year or if 2013 is going to skip spring, summer and fall and head right back into old man winter!”

CalliPhoto by my friend Calli from a ranch outside Watford City, ND
“I wish these weren’t my “spring” photos, but they are 😦 Ha!  This photo is of Ty sitting in her lawn chair waiting for spring to come” 

Naples, FLPhoto by Kathie in Naples, FL
“The view from our lanai in Naples, FL”

spring 2013 028Photo of Blue the Dog by Jody in Breckenridge, MN

Texas SweetheartsPhoto of my cousin’s beautiful daughter by my aunt Judi in Texas
“Texas Sweethearts Spring 2013”

BettyPhoto by Betty in Black Hawk, SD
“I’m afraid we are in the same boat Jessie!!!  Last week it was two feet of the white stuff.  This week not so much, but as I look out my window, there are a few flakes playing tag with each other in their rush to the earth!!  We welcome each and every one because we need the moisture.  How I’ll welcome the sunshine when it chooses to show it’s warm face.  The hyacinths, and tulips will rejoice with me and we will celebrate Spring along with you as western Dakota becomes green again.”

RosesPhoto by Lynda in California
“Despite the cold, despite the sadness, despite everything going on; the roses come up each spring and has me amazed and filled with joy every single time!!!”

Photo by Melanie from Fargo, ND
“Crocuses in my mom’s yard in Fargo. A little color beside the snow”

Photo by Lynda in Tarves, Aberdeenshire, N E Scotland
“Beautiful crocus flowers opening their buds towards the Spring sunshine in Tarves, Aberdeenshire, N E Scotland. Spring very late this year but Mrs Blackbird sitting comfortably on her nest today and buds on trees now appearing! Onwards!”

Photo by my friend Megan up the road!
Don’t be confused… This is from Monday, not Christmas! 😉
“Thought I would share my 2 favorite things to photograph all year around… My barn and my boys… Which I’m guessing were both hoping the sun would come out and the white stuff would quit falling!
Happy “SPRING HAS SPRUNG” from up the road a couple miles.”

Photo by Barb in northern Oregon
“In northern Oregon Spring has sprung. The Western Meadowlarks provide the dawn to dusk soundtrack for this photo. Seems like all of the birds are in pairs: the geese, the Scrub Jays, the White-crowned sparrows. The Song sparrows are pulling bark off of the ninebark and I wonder if the poor bush will be stripped before the nest is complete. And then there are the wild flowers. When the lupine blooms amid the arrowroot, cold temps and cloudy days aside, there’s no denying spring.”

Photo by Harriet in the Faroe Islands @
“Here in The Faroe Islands we sure get happy when the sky’s blue and the sun is out 🙂 Although today is rainy, I took this photo the other day where spring really showed it’s sunny side :)”

Photo by my cousin Shanna in snowy Fargo, ND @
“Yet ANOTHER snowy day and not so much fun to play outside yet! So my Munchkins expressed their feelings about our “Fargo spring” through some artwork on our patio door with their window markers today. On the left it says “Spring is NOT in the air”, there is a snowman at the beach, a sad-faced sun, and an angry orange monster at the bottom who “ate up all the snow and punched winter in the face” (his words, not mine).”

Photo by my cousin Seth (Shanna’s brother) in Washington, DC.
Here he is trying to make us jealous…
“Two of the highlights of living in our nation’s capital: The monuments and spring cherry blossoms! Oh, and temps in the 70s ;)”

Photo by Kaye from Grand Junction, CO
“On the left: my tulips on Saturday. On the right: my tulips today. Springtime in the Rockies, what are you gonna do…Usually our spring is warm, windy and drier than we’d like. This year, cool, windy, some wet.”

Photo by Ed in Glen Ullin, ND
“Robins in a sea of white.”

Photo by Rachel in Brueau, ID
“Our Spring is looking windy and dry, we’re still feeding hay.”

Photo by Linda in California @
“Here’s a little bit of California to brighten your day! Due to drought-like conditions this winter, spring arrived early for us. The upshot is that there are beautiful wildflowers blooming everywhere!”

Thanks again for your submissions. You made my spring a little warmer and brighter!

Sunday Column: Living with the wild things

Well, party people, look what the weekend drug in.

Snow and rain and not a green thing in site. Thanks to everyone who’s been sharing thier spring photos on the Facebook page and email. Every pretty flower cheers me and every snow flurry makes me feel less alone in this arctic tundra!

It’s not too late to get in on the game! Whether the birds are chirping in the warm sunshine or retreating back to the southern climates, abandoning the whole migration idea all together, show us how spring is shaping up in your neck of the woods and I will post them  all on the website Monday. Our favorite photo will win a copy of my new album “Nothing’s Forever” and a print of a warmer and prettier spring day at the Veeder Ranch.

So make (and warm up) my day and post your photos on the Facebook page or send me an email at

In the meantime, read  my Fargo Forum column on the other unpredictable thing around here–wildlife.

Coming Home: Humans, beasts learn to coexist.
Jessie Veeder, Fargo Forum
April, 21, 2013

Because like snow in April, some things just need to keep thier distance.

Peace, Love and Sunday Pancakes,


A Christmas Eve Eve Winner and your beautiful, winter photos!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!
It is snowing here at the ranch and we’re hunkered down, working on checking off the construction and pie making projects on our list. Between the hammering and measuring and baking, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who shared your favorite winter photos as part of my little holiday contest.

The world is truly a beautiful place, even in the chilly, snowy temperatures of late December (or tropical temps for some!) and you’ve proved it to be true all over the place! Being transported to your backyards through your photos has been a wonderful Christmas gift.

It was a difficult task, but Husband and I have chosen our favorite winter scene. I will tell you, this decision was thought out over a cup of coffee, discussed, narrowed and determined with the most serious consideration. We almost had a tie. We almost had an argument. Things got heated, but we were able to narrow it down.

Little Drummer Boy, will you please take a moment out of your “Par rum pu pu pumming” to roll that drum!?

Thank you.

And the winner is: Sybil Nun for bringing Husband and I to the coast of Nova Scotia!

Photo submitted by Sybil Nunn. “Winter at Peggy’s Cove.” Nova Scotia.

Sybil, your photo is so exotic. You brought us to a world so similarly frozen and so full of wonder. We could imagine standing on those snowy rocks feeling the cold damp air blowing off of the water, freezing our eyelashes and flushing our cheeks. We love it!

You’ll be receiving a signed copy of my new album “Nothing’s Forever” and a matted print of one of my favorite winter scenes!

To honor the time each of the participants and the beauty of our winter world, I decided to post the submitted photos here for the rest of you to see in case you missed them on Facebook.

Thank you everyone for playing along and sharing your frosty world with us. Thank you for reading. Thank you for showing up here week after week with your encouraging words, relatable stories and positivity.

Merry Christmas! May your holiday be filled with love and obnoxious sweaters, family and friends who are like family, beauty and laughter and delicious food and drink on colorful holiday themed platters!

Peace to you and yours, now enjoy the show!

Photo submitted by Faye Baker “Merry Christmas from Mercer County!”

Photo submitted by Vicki Overvold

Photo submitted by Barb Grover “Children and the wonders of winter” Oslo-Norway

Photo submitted by Jeanne Ramsay “Merry Christmas from Denver”

Photo submitted by Christie Jaeger “Winter photo of our cows” Esmond, ND

Photo submitted by Susan Price Slehofer “Winter from just across the border in Montana”

Photo submitted by Karen Grosz “My favorite calming photo.”

Photo submitted by Hugh Long “Merry Christmas from beautiful Key West!

Photo submitted by Lillian Crook “Buffaloberry Bushes, Painted Canyon, c, December 16, 2012”

Photo submitted by Dan Grogan. “Southwest Virginia, two seasons ago. Happy Holidays!”

Photo submitted by Annika G. Plummer. “Merry Christmas!”

Photo submitted by Rory Guenther. “Merry Christmas!”

Photo submitted by Rachel Dwyer. “Frozen cattails 🙂 Merry Christmas!”

Photo submitted by Rebekah Engebretson. “Fog’s friend left behind last week in Watford City.”

Photo submitted by Ed Barth.

Photo submitted by Robin Wahl. “Merry Christmas to you and yours. God bless.”

Submitted via email.

Photo submitted by Holly Mossberg. “This is my mare Elly and her offspring Dreamer in Feb. of 06 after they were pent up in the barn for two days.”

Photo submitted by Jess James.

Photo submitted by Jess James.

Winter Wonderland (Prize Alert!)

I’m happy to report that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here, and it isn’t just the giant, ten foot tall, six foot wide Christmas tree standing in the middle of the construction zone that is my home!

Nope, it’s because it has been a frosty winter wonderland for the past few weeks, bringing with it some sparky trees and fluffy soft snow.

I just love the way our world looks coated in a little frosting.

It almost makes me forget about the sub-zero temperatures and icy roads it produces. I mean, those elements are quite forgivable when they create for you a postcard worthy world.

Today the sun is shining and the frost has melted off the trees, but I spent a few moments this week trudging through the snow to capture those magical moments when things are sparkly and fresh so I could share them with you.

Because I think this is the way Christmas is supposed to look.

Now all we need is a one horse open sleigh to put these lazy, fluffy and hay fed horses to work!

In the spirit of the season I’d like to invite you to share with me your favorite winter photo from wherever you are. Post to my Facebook page, Husband and I will chose our favorite and you will win a signed copy of my new album “Nothing’s Forever” and a matted photo of one of my favorite snowy scenes.

I’ll pick the winner on Sunday (because I love Sundays) so share away! I can’t wait to see your world!

Merry Almost Christmas!

I wish you were here with us to make snow angles and frost sugar cookies.

Love, peace and snowmen.


The return of the nearly impossible North Dakota Trivia Game (Prize Alert!)

Remember this little gem here that I found among old Halloween costumes, yearbooks and spiders in my basement last January?  Remember how we passed the time together in the depths of winter searching for the answers to the world’s most impossible trivia game? Remember how we laughed at the ridiculously detailed and in depth questions I chose to present to you after digging through about thirty thousand stacks of cards?

Remember the fun we had making wild guesses? Remember the prize winners? There were two!

Don’t you just love prizes?

I do.

I love them.

And I love presenting a good challenge. A challenge that is fun and quirky, a challenge that is voluntary. A challenge very much unlike the challenges that have been placed before me this week.

Because this week was a bad one. A doozy. One of those stretches that slaps you in the face a few times to remind you that, oh no no no no, you don’t have control of this life sister. Not much control at all.

One of those weeks where the weather matches the tears that fall from your puffy eyes and you don’t bother changing out of the sweatshirt that you’ve been wearing since Tuesday and husband’s homemade chicken noodle soup is on order…and even that doesn’t take the edge off much.

I know we’ve all had days like these. I know you all have. And I could elaborate and go into detail here, but the truth is I know each and every one of you is struggling in your own way, every day. So whether your pain is locked up tight in your broken heart or flinging off a mountaintop, I would like to do my part to distract you from it and offer you a little prayer of peace. Because this place we have created here on the world wide web is a good one, an honest one, a solid place for an escape, a contemplation, a laugh and a glimpse into one another’s similar or not so similar lives.

And I’m all done crying for today. I want to laugh!

So what have I decided to do? Bring us all together in the name of  ridiculous trivia….and bring on the prizes!

So this afternoon while I sat at the kitchen table and continued to listen to my most recent addition to the animal population meow consistently and persistently outside my kitchen window…

you're driving me ccaaarrrraaaazzzzaaayyy!!!

I thumbed through the stack of 30,000 trivia questions to find you, dear readers, the most challenging, the most ridiculous, the most incredibly ponderous questions that may or may not have anything to do with our great state of North Dakota.

Nothing could be more distracting, more mind bending, more educationally, academically, recreationally daring and exciting than trying another round of “The Game that Makes Learning about North Dakota Fun!”

Because there’s a lot to learn.

Six diplomas worth in fact.

Diplomas that can be earned in the following categories:

  • Geography (GEO)
  • People (PLE)
  • Government (GOV)
  • Flora and Fauna (F&F)
  • Transportation and Communication (T&C)
  • Industry and Agriculture (I&A)
But I am only going to give out one.
One big one.
One big congratulations squeeze for anyone out there with the skills and knowledge and perseverance to correctly answer the following questions I have hand-picked for you while munching on a turkey sandwich.

Be the first to get every question correct, answering in the comments below, and you win a prize. 
(If we can’t get every question right, then the person with the most correct answers by the deadline of Saturday afternoon wins! )

The prize? Your choice of the following 5×7 metallic matted prints found on my Veeder Ranch Photography and Gifts Etsy site:

1) Wild Daisies in the Rain

2) Dew Covered Pink Bluebells

3) Snow Cactus

Yeah, I am aware the photos are all rain soaked and snow soaked…but hey, momma said there’d be days like this didn’t she?

Ok, put on your thinking caps and lock that knowledge in tight. Here we go:

  • GEO: How much wider is North Dakota’s southern border than its Norther border?
  • PLE: Who was the first native born governor of North Dakota?
  • GOV: How large did claim shacks have to be to qualify for homestead rights?
  • F&F: In what year was the North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame Started?
  • T&C: When did cars become legal on North Dakota Roads?
  • I&A: What happened to the “belle” who stated publicly that she didn’t believe there was a North Dakota?

Now onward party people!

Good luck, happy Googling and have fun chatting up your old high school history teacher!

And remember, someone in North Dakota loves you very much…and that someone happens to have all the answers…

Well, at least the answers to the trivia game, not life in general…I’m still working on that one.

A horse with no name (Prize alert!)

Good morning. I need your help.

I don’t have time to talk about this beautiful weather we’ve been having, or how summer is slowly and in a lovely way turning into fall. Or how I have been procrastinating my chokecherry syrup project for riding every evening.

No. I can’t talk about that.

This shit is urgent.

My horse needs a name.

Here she is, I think you’ve seen her before.

The mare.

The paint mare.

Girly girl.

Miss Piggy.


Jessie’s horse.

Cause I’ve claimed her. Yup. Put my name all over her after pops brought her back to the ranch for the second time in my life. Maybe I should take some time to explain this so you can get a general idea about what I’m dealing with here.

See pops is a horse trainer, horse whisperer, horse fanatic, horse lover, damn horse crazy man. He admits it.

This would be his heaven. Living, sleeping and eating pie with the horses...

And he admits there hasn’t been a horse in the universe that he has met that he didn’t love. Even the one’s that bucked with him repeatedly for no apparent reason, the ones that will run around the round pen for an hour before they’ll give in and be caught, the ones whose feet are always tender, the ones that walk too slow, the ones that only want to run, the ones that knocked the wind out of his lovely middle daughter time and time again as she found herself launched out of the saddle and whimpering on the hard, clay ground, unable to feel her entire right side.

Nope. Dad liked that horse too. Just not the behavior…of horse or rider I must add. Because in the Horse Whisperer’s eye it is rarely solely the horse’s fault. I suppose Ceasar the dog whisperer has the same theory–it’s misunderstanding. Miscommunication that causes the issues.

And its pops mission in life to talk to the horses, you know, let them know that there is at least one man in the world who will try to understand where the beasts are coming from.

I think he’s been this way since birth.

Which brings me to the reason this ranch has been home to hundreds of horses in his lifetime. They find their way here when someone is having trouble with them. It could be a young colt that needs a start, an older animal with a stubborn streak, a temper, fear or anything in between. Horse owners and friends and friends of friends will somehow find their way to pops who rarely ever says no to giving it a try.

And after a few turns around the corral he always falls in love and either offers to buy the horse or to ride it until the owner would like it back.

That’s the first scenario.

The second scenario is how my-mare-who-remains-nameless found her way to our house the first time–because pops went a looking.

Yup, he found himself at a horse sale watching the hand me down animals come through the ring. Horses that others may have given up on, or didn’t have time or room for. He can’t help himself, even when he swears he’s just going to look, he brings his trailer along just in case. And so, about three years ago when I was working in the big town with the horse sale, pops shows up at my office with the trailer. I walked out across the parking lot, stood up on the tire of the rig in my fancy shoes and slacks and peered in to meet two paint mares that would have likely gone to the land of no return.

How lucky they were that pops was there with his horse selecting technique: jumping on them bareback with a halter to test their reaction.

Well they lived up to the test and so we had a couple new mares, one, the one I call mine, happened to be at the prime of her life. 8 or 9 years old, cowy, quick, sound, calm with just the right amount of energy. Yup. A great little horse. Pops was thrilled. But this is where it gets a little complicated, so hang in there with me.

Pops is like personal shopper when it comes to picking out equines. He was so thrilled with this purchase, but at the time he was the only one riding horses on the place and what he really wanted was his buckskin back. So he called his buddy in the badlands. The buddy who currently owned his beloved buckskin horse, acquired through a previous horse trading deal (there have been multiple in this friendship). He said “buddy, I have a horse for you. You’ll love her. She fantastic. Wanna trade back?”

And his buddy did.

So pops had the buckskin and his badlands buddy had the mare. The mare he titled “Left’er,” claiming that pops had just come around one day and, well..left ‘er. Apparently that horse trade story didn’t sound the same when badlands buddy told it.

Anyway, so there pops sat for three years with his beloved buckskin whose sore feet deem him ridable about three times out of these summer. No worries, there are plenty more horses to ride. Horses that have come to the Veeder Ranch in the wake of a major meltdown only to be coaxed back to life, pops tolerant of their quirks in the end.

And badlands buddy, he was loving the mare. Riding her on mountain trail packing trips, through the badlands, herding cattle. That mare had his heart indeed. But badlands buddy is a wandering cowboy and when he made plans for a year-long trip to the mountains where he would be responsible for maintaing trails, he called pops.

And I came home at the end of June to find the mare munching oak leaves in the horse pasture below our house.

So I saddled her up and, well, I will not ride another I say.

I will not ride another.

She’s gentle, but not overly friendly. She’s got a little attitude and is hard to catch unless you have treats or a bucket of anything really. Because sister loves to eat. If we are running through clover field at top speed I swear she just opens her mouth to catch what ever plant might be at the proper height. The girl is hungry.

I can relate.

And when it comes to cows you might as well just take a seat, because she’s got it under control.

I’ve been riding her for a good two months now and I am more convinced every day that she’s the best horse I’ve ridden. Other’s may not agree, but that’s my story and we’re sticking to it, her and I. She makes this ranch woman’s life a little easier…and I don’t even mind her mohawk really because it means less time spent plucking burrs from her hair and more time spent getting business done.

Which brings me, the long way (as usual) to my point.

Girlfriend needs a name.

And I need your help.

Now that you know our story it should be easy right? Oh, and I have incentives! If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been working on putting some of my photographs from this site up for sale on my Etsy site. See that tab up there that says “Store”? Yup. You pick a name that suits her and you can pick any print or necklace you want from there and I’ll send it to your door, a thank you for fixing this little predicament I have found myself in with no name to call out when heading to the pasture looking for her.

You are all creative, intuitive, smart people. I know you can come up with an appropriate title for her. 

Thank you.

Love you.

We’ll be out riding if you need us.

P.S. I am constantly adding photos and gifts to my Etsy site. I also have photos for sale in the Visitor’s Center in Watford City. If you see a photo here you would like in a print, canvas, barnwood frame, anything, I would love to fill your order. Just shoot me an email at These photos make great gifts for the North Dakota lover you know (especially if that North Dakota lover is, you know, yourself). 

Christmas is coming. 

And that’s my shameless plug. 

Accident Prone (Prize Alert!)

In honor of Friday the 13th I would like to take a moment to embrace a side of me that I have not appropriately opened up about. And I am ashamed of this, because anyone who knows me personally will know that this part of me is worth mentioning, if for no other reason than to protect the innocent souls around me.

Deep breath in….now let it out….sigh…

Some days life is tough for me.


And by tough, I mean literally painful.

Because I am a klutz.

Accident prone.

A magnet for small disasters.

A target for falling things.

like bird poop...

This is a quality that is so much a part of me I have began to embrace it and use it when asked to describe myself:

“Who am I? Well I am so glad you asked: I am a wild haired, overly friendly over sharer spaz of a woman who is inclined to burst out in song when simply regular talking would do just fine. I often have big ideas that require more muscles than I currently posses attached to arms and legs that are more often that not, flailing. I lack the attention to detail needed to glide through this ranch-world unscathed by stomping horse hooves, alarmingly uneven ground, muddy creek beds, giant bulls and rodents with wings that prefer to fly right for my head when there are a million miles of open sky available to them. Oh, and chips and salsa are still my favorite food groups even though the food group almost choked me to death in a public space known as a restaurant, just to make sure I was good and embarrassed (Sweet Martha thank goodness for Mr. Heimlic and his maneuver). Oh, and I got my big nose from my dad…and a flying sled and an unruly beer bottle in case you were wondering….thanks so much for asking, I think l’ll go inside now.”

I mean, let’s get real here. How many women have been smacked in the head by a 15 foot 2×6 board that came screaming at 30 mph out of what appeared to be thin air one day…only to fall through the floor of a barn the next?

Danger, lurking around every corner

How many people have actually bent over to pick up a napkin off of the floor only to smoke their head so hard on a kitchen table (a table that has been in the same place for 15 + years so there should be no surprises) that guests fell silent and actually witnessed those little cartoon bluebirds circling around her head?

Do you know any proper lady who has dolled up, put on her big girl shoes and attempted a few hours in a dress only to step out of the dining booth and fall directly on her face, flashing her entire rear-end to a bar full of strange men?

How many best friends have to regularly say “Really? Did that just happen? Are you ok?”

How many times can a dad rush his young daughter to the emergency room for a crushed foot from jumping the wrong way off of a horse, a snapped ligament for landing the wrong way while jumping, er, falling off a small cliff, a smashed finger from getting her limb stuck between a 2,000 pound bull and a metal post, or a disjointed wrist from a unfortunate decision to heroically save herself from a runaway horse?

Note to self...bridal necessary.

How many times can a husband shake his head at his wife before his head actually falls off and he turns from bystander to victim?

How many people do you know who have actually hit themselves in the head with a hammer, measure the time they have spent in casts in years and were nicknamed “Tuck and Roll” in seventh grade by those who are supposed to love them most?

How many?

Well, I know one who happens to share my name and the same bruise on my left knee and permanent and distinct bump on my nose.

"Hhiiiyaaa gguuyyyssaaa!!"

Um, I just need one moment here….

“Bwwwaaaaa ahhh  ahhhh…sob…sniff…sniff…whimper…”


Ok, enough of this confession. Life is tough out here for animals and humans like me. Come to think of it I have a couple dozen stories I could tell you about witnessing my pops in similar life-threatening situations (i.e.: welding his polyester shirt to to his arm, getting clotheslined by a barbed wire fence and one or two cow trampling incidents) so perhaps his giant nose and frizzy hair weren’t the only qualities he passed down to me.

Thanks a million pops.

"Why you're welcome dear daughter..."

But I decided a long time ago that I can’t live in fear about the next mishap, bruise, concussion, bloody nose or knee. Life’s too short and there’s too much to do…

So I took the pug’s lead and invested in some safety glasses:

Because we can’t afford to lose another eye on this place.

And in honor of this cryptic type holiday, the one straight out of those horror movies I refuse to subject myself to for fear of bed wetting, I want to hear from you.

Tell me about an embarrassing blunder or injury. Give me your best accident prone tale and the one that makes me feel better about myself and the fact that I am gracefully challenged can chose from the following 8×10 matted metallic prints to be sent to your door.

Photo #1:

Photo #2

Photo #3

Because I like to celebrate our shortcomings 🙂

Oh, and don’t forget to visit the “Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” Facebook page and hit “like” for more ranch updates, contests and photos.

Love you and happy accidents everyone!

Melty Monday Trivia Question (prize alert!)

We were foiled again by the big sky this weekend. After days of blue and sunshine that was working miracles on turning things green and purple and yellow and other glorious spring colors, in its predictably unpredictable bipolar attitude it freaked out and poured down snow and freezing rain, covering us in ice and white and shutting the lights off in the little ranch house for hours.

I was pretty pissed, I’m not gonna lie. For a few minutes.

Until I realized that it was a perfect excuse to leave  the laundry for another day.

And the dishes, and the vacuuming and the yard work and the emails and all things productive in general.

Ok. Ok. I took one more snow day in stride.

And read a book.

And cried and got all depressed because my favorite books are the sad kind.


But that’s it. That’s all.

Cause I want more of this…

and a little less of this…

I love a good adventure, but a girl has her limits. And snow heavy enough to snap tree branches on the last day of April is pushing that limit.

Anyway, the thing about spring snow is that it is gone before you even get the chance to use all of your favorite curse words. So when I was on my way out the door yesterday, the green grass looked like it was making its way to the surface again.


Because today I am hitting the road on behalf of the North Dakota Humanities Council to learn about a community that was home to the first North Dakota Farm and I will be interviewing two women who are working the land for a living.

I can’t wait to hear the stories.

And can’t wait to see if anyone can guess what town in North Dakota I will be visiting this morning based on the hint above. 

First correct answer (for those not related to me who know my schedule) wins a matted 8×10 metallic print of this photo sent directly to the comfort of your home. 

I think it’s appropriate given the feisty attitude of the season.

Because nothing fixes a Melty Monday like a prize.

Love ya!

Mother Nature. It’s a woman thing…

Good morning from the land of indecision. And by that I am referring to the weather.

And me. But we’ll get to that later.

Ok, so remember when we talked about that spring thing and the melting and the running water and the removal of the wool caps and scarves and my fantasy about wearing cut-off pants and running through the sprinkler.

Well, that’s all shot to shit now and after the last few days, I am firmly convinced that nature is a woman.

A moody one.

Out my kitchen window're supposed to be able to see the red barn...I can't.

Because just as she gets nice and comfortable with a bit of sunshine and blue skies, raising all of our hopes up of sun kissed skin and BBQs, she laughs like an evil queen in a Disney movie and then throws some more snow and wind and fog and freezing ice in our faces…only to come back and apologize with something like a rainbow or 70 degree weather.

Ah well, like a rocky relationship, we’re all used to it by now.

And for those you who think an all out school cancelled, no travel advised, wind whipping snow pellets in your eyeballs, no Schwanns man for the rest of your life and zero visibility day is unheard of after spring has been declared,  I’ll tell you, you haven’t met Mother Nature in North Dakota. In March.

No birds today...

Yes, Mother Nature can be a completely unpredictable, annoyingly indecisive bitch sometimes.

And I can relate, because I have had those kind of days. I am a woman too and lately I have been driving myself crazy with a little project I like to refer to as “Mission: the rest of our lives” and I have displayed all of the above qualities and more during this process. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mother Nature for mirroring the conflicted mood I’ve been in by slamming sleet and snow against our windows and blowing a drift across the door and blocking husband and I inside this little house together in the middle of a bathroom remodeling project, forcing us to make some damn decisions already.

Because it worked.

See, after we sold our house in Dickinson at the end of December, husband and I have been discussing and researching and making decisions and canceling plans and going through books and websites and talking out where exactly on the ranch we are going to live for the rest of our lives.

As you know, I have lived here, in the house my grandfather built, since June. And since I moved my shoes and bed and table and books and music and body between these walls almost a year ago, slowly I have found myself coming back into my own again. I have rediscovered this landscape where I grew up and began to throw myself into the things I loved to do as a kid, because I couldn’t help it, I felt 10 again. I picked wildflowers, rode my horses, explored the old barn, walked the coulees, played in the rain and rescued lost kittens.

And I wrote about it, worked through it and relaxed a bit into myself again.

But during this time I have always had it in my head that my existence in this spot, with the window that looks out to the barn and the other that faces the corrals, would be temporary. Our plan was to build a house over the hill and leave this house the way it is, with some updates and an open door to guests.

That was our plan, so we moved forward–kind of. We talked to builders and picked up pamphlets and searched the internet for custom homes and asked questions and never really did set it up and move on with it already.

What I was most excited about was fixing up this house. Putting in some new floors, siding, deck, appliances–the works. I wanted to see it glisten and shine again. But really, what about our house already? What was wrong with us? What was the hold-up on making our forever home?




Well, on Sunday we brought home some tiles to fix up the shower in the farm house. Tiling. Not my favorite by the way. And as we were taking a trip out to the shop to get the tools, on the way back husband stopped short of the door and put his hands on his hips. He leaned back. He inspected. He moved around the house making noises like “hmmm…” and “wellll…” and “huh.”

I watched him for a bit, my arms full of tools. Then I asked the inevitable “What?” “What are you doing? We have a mission here.”

He turned to look at me through the foggy air and mist that settled in on the barnyard and over the square brown house before the storm hit and out of husband’s mouth came words that, simply said, seemed to clear that fog and mist and hovering clouds that had existed in my mind as indecision…

“We could stay here. We could stay in this spot. We could make it work.”

I sat down on the deck that is in desperate need of repair and put my head in my hands.

“Yes,” I said.

“Yes,” I whimpered.

“Yes,” I wailed.

“Yes,” I sobbed.

“Yes. I want to stay here.”

And so we took the time that was reserved for tiling that Sunday afternoon and talked it over, made some drawings and gave ourselves some options on how it could work.

And I was happy.

And still am.

And think I always will be here.

At home.

Even with the storm wailing outside and painting this house and barn white.

Even while other people were hunkering down against the storm yesterday and watching bad movies we were inside tiling and tiling and making plans for more work like this.

Even when I can’t get my car out of the snowbank.

And since many of you are snowed in today I think this might be a good time to share with you a little extra reading: My winning essay and answer to the question “Who Inspires You” for the “Inspired Woman” magazine out of Bismarck, ND.

Read it and then tell me why I didn’t listen to myself and figure this whole forever-home thing out months ago when I placed the last period at the end of the story.

It must be a woman thing.

You can see the entire article in the magazine, complete with photos, here: Inspired Woman Magazine

P.S. The decision to stay in the this location doesn’t mean we won’t have space for guests. It just means we will have different space available…

And so a girl changes her mind and I am confident it will work out for the best.