cows

My grandniece, Maeve Parmely is turning three years old today. She is a child of the Covid era, and for much of her early live was only around her family and grandparents. The situation has made her a little shy around people, even extended family. Now we are having monthly family dinners so that Maeve and her siblings, Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen can all get to know us better. The older children warmed up to us quickly, but Maeve was the baby, and to her, we were “Stranger Danger.” While we wanted Maeve to warm up to us, we also knew that it was probably better for her to have time to learn who we are to her before she just allows us to get close. I never felt like she should be rushed, even though, I wanted to get to know her.

These days, I am finding that Maeve and I actually have some things in common. At our dinner a couple of months ago, Maeve was talking to her mom, and she glanced am me, and noticed my fingernails, which are always polished, and usually have a decorative sticker on them. She stopped talking immediately, and I asked her if she liked them. She said yes, and suddenly, we had our own thing to talk about. We actually polished her nails that night, but we didn’t have any decorative stickers. This week, at our dinner, I’m going to surprise her with some stickers for her nails. I’m so excited about this new treat that I can do for her. While Maeve is rather a girly girl, she can keep up with her sisters and brother in the “rough and tumble” area too. And this girly girl even likes camo. She is able to do pretty much anything she wants to do…including telling the cows what to do.

While Maeve is a bubbly girl when she, she is very quiet around strangers. Her sisters and brother have seen that bubbly side of her, as well as her temper, if they get on the wrong side of her. It is hard to accept that I am considered a stranger, and I am working to see if I can change her view of me. While Maeve may always be a very private person, I think she probably has a lot to say when you get to know her. Maeve will be going to preschool next year, and I think being around other children will really bring her out of her shell. Today is Maeve’s 3rd birthday. Happy birthday Maeve. Have a great day!! We love you!!

When you live on a farm, with multiple animals, the work never ends. My nephew, Eric Parmely married a girl named Ashley, who was raised on a farm, and they are on a life journey that is probably pretty unusual in this day and age. They bought a farm west of Casper, Wyoming, and they both work very hard raising horses, cows, goats, pigs, turkeys, and chickens, not to mention dogs and cats. The baby count grows every year, and of course, the animals supply the family with meat, eggs, milk, and of course, love…especially from the dogs and cats, but from the other animals too.

Eric’s workday doesn’t really end until his head the pillow. Eric is always working on something. Eric and Ashley host a family dinner for our families once a month, and after dinner, the work must usually go on. Sunday when we were out there, he and several of the men were out working on his tractor. You can’t run a farm without a tractor, and there is always something that needs done on it…either repairs or maintenance. Then he and Ashley have jobs like milking the cow and the goats, feeding all the animals, and stacking hay (when they buy bales).

Eric is a great daddy. He gives the best “daddy horse” rides and tickles…which we all know is very important…especially the tickles to his kids, Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve!! He is always helping Ashley with the household chores and is an expert at washing dishes and folding laundry. You might say he has dozens and dozens of babies, because he also loves to snuggle the kittens and puppies, and he helps pull calves. Eric really has a heart of gold and is filled with love for his kids, wife, and animals.

In the little bit of down time he has, Eric likes to watch videos on YouTube on his phone and giggles to himself. He rather reminds me of his Uncle Bob in that way. It doesn’t matter if it’s on television or his phone, Bob gets a kick out of comedy, just like Eric. It’s fun to listen to their laughter from the other room, and ultimately, you can’t help but laugh along, even if you don’t know what is so funny. Just hearing their laughter is contagious, and you find yourself laughing along…or at the very least smiling. Ashley tells me that Eric is still a mama’s boy, and that is likely true. I think Eric would help his mom, Jennifer Parmely and her partner, Brian Cratty with anything they needed, and I think he would help his in-laws, Kari and Albert Eighmy with anything they needed too. That’s just the kind of guy Eric is. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Ashley Parmely joined our family when she married my nephew, Eric Parmely in 2011. Since that time, much has changed in Eric’s life, as well as the entire family. Eric and Ashley have three daughters, Reagan, Hattie, and Maeve; and a son, Bowen. Ashley is almost half way through her second year of homeschooling her two oldest daughters, Reagan and Hattie. Bowen attends the Montessori School for pre-school, where he will attend for one more year. Maeve will start there next year for two years. After that, Ashley plans to homeschool all four of their children. I think she is doing an amazing job as the teacher, and I think the whole family is very proud of her for sticking to it.

Hard work is not something that is new to Ashley. As a farm girl, she has many jobs. She not only takes care of her home and children and homeschools the children, she also feeds and cares for the farm animals, milks the cow and goats, collects the eggs, helps her husband and dad, Albert Eighmy unload and stack hay for their farm animals. I can’t imagine everything that goes into having farm animals, but I know that you have to clean up after them, and feed them, and those that have to be milked, must be milked twice a day. It means early mornings and sometimes late evenings. When babies arrive, they don’t always come at the perfect time, and sometimes they need help, so sometimes she is up all night with the animals. Don’t get me wrong, Eric helps too, but Ashley works very hard, nevertheless. It is really beyond what I can imagine doing every day, but for Ashley, it’s just another day in paradise.

There are fun times too. Ashley loves to take pictures, and so she plans events so that she can document the events. Her photography is excellent. She really has an eye for just how to set up a shot, and also for seeing the shot in a spontaneous situation. We have all enjoyed watching her family grow up in the pictures she posts on Facebook. We have all enjoyed spending time with them too, at the monthly family dinners that Ashley suggested to bring our family closer together. They have been such a blessing, and we have been able to get to know their kids better. Even little Maeve, who is rather bashful, is growing more comfortable around all of us. She was a baby of the Covid era, so she was not used to being around people. These dinners have been good for her…for all of us.

Ashley has been a wonderful part of our family. She has such a good imagination and we have all enjoyed her great ideas. Ashley’s personality is all about happiness and family. We all knew Ashley was a perfect fit in our family from the moment we met her, and we were not wrong. We look forward to many more years together. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandson, Caalab Royce met a girl a while back and they have been almost inseparable ever since. Her name is Chloe Foster, and she is as sweet as she can be. These kids are perfect for each other. Both are dedicated to their families and to each other’s family too…and the cool thing is that their families like each other too. It’s always special when you can join two families…because the kids got together. When Caalab met Chloe, his whole life changed. I really didn’t hear about anything else but Chloe, and when we met her, we could see what he saw in her. Her personality was totally infectious, and I enjoyed meeting her very much.

As Chloe’s birthday approached I began to wonder about this girl who holds my grandson’s heart. I knew that she is studying criminal justice in college, and that she is a Christian, which makes me very happy. She has a sweet spirit, which I have seen in the things she posts. Caalab tells me that she has been spending part of the “shelter-at-home” time in which we have all found ourselves, studying the Bible. She is a girl who prays and allows God to lead her in the way she should go. These kinds of things make my heart glad.

Chloe is also a very talented artist. She recently sat down and is just a few hours she had painted a watercolor picture of Bob Marley. Caalab really likes Bob Marley, so he was very impressed with her work. I don’t know too much about Bob Marley, but I know enough to recognize him in her painting. She did a good job. Recently, I friended Chloe’s mom on Facebook, and when looking at her pictures, I saw some of the funnier ways that Chloe uses her artwork…namely, greeting cards. I won’t display them here, but let’s just say she thanked her parents for their part in giving her life…her mom for Chloe’s first home, and her dad for putting her and her brothers, Tyson and Tanner, in the race in the first place. The cards were tastefully done, and very sweet in a funny sort of way, but they told me more about this girl who has loved cows for much of her life. I thought it funny, when my granddaughter, Shai Royce, Caalab’s sister, told me to buy Chloe something with a cow on it for Christmas…now, I can see that Shai knows Chloe pretty well. Shai loves Chloe as much (well almost as much) as Caalab does. As a grandmother, I can say it is heartwarming to know that someone cares so much for my grandson…that she not only holds his heart, but she protects it too. Today is Chloe’s birthday. Happy birthday Chloe!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kayla Stevens is first and foremost a wife to my nephew, Garrett, and a mom to their daughter, 10 month old Elliott Michelle. Being a mom is a dream come true for Kayla, and she is having the time of her life. She and Elliott are very close, and now that the weather is nicer, they have been going on walks every evening after Kayla gets off work. It’s their mother daughter time. Kayla is a great mom, and Elliott is a happy, healthy baby girl, who is full of smiles.

Kayla has been busy this summer being a bridesmaid for her friend Hannah’s wedding in Huntington Beach, California. The whole family went and had a great time. It was Elliott’s first vacation, and they made some great memories there. Kayla will be a bridesmaid in two more weddings this summer, so the summer is shaping up to be quite busy. Weddings are always fun, and for Kayla to be able to help celebrate with her friends is awesome.

A couple of weeks ago, Kayla started a new job at the VA Hospital in Sheridan, Wyoming on their suicide prevention task force. She has worked hard both studying to become a social worker and in her prior job, but I think that this is going to be the culmination of the vision she had for her career. So far she likes her new job. I think is takes a special kind of person to deal with the stresses and problems of other people, but Kayla has a heart for that, and I know that she is a blessing both to her coworkers and her patients.

Kayla’s family all live in Sheridan, and she still has all four of her grandparents, so her little family has been spending lots of time with all of them. They have started a tradition of getting together for lunch after church on Sundays with a lot of the family joining in. They also go to Kayla’s parents, Lynette and Wes Smiley’s house in the country for dinner on the weekends. Elliott loves to look at the cows and horses. Also, now that the weather is nice, they have been able to come to Casper to visit Garrett’s family, my sister, Alena and her husband Mike, as well as his sisters Michelle and Lacey. Alena and Mike have also had more opportunities to go to Sheridan to visit. Its a busy life in so many ways, but Kayla and Garrett feel very blessed with their little family, and their extended families. Today is Kayla’s birthday. Happy birthday Kayla!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my nephew, Eric Parmely was little, I would never have guessed that he would decide to become a farmer. Eric was born a city boy, and lived in town throughout his childhood. He rode motorcycles, worked on cars with his dad, and did all the typical things at city boys did. Then, when Eric met Ashley, everything changed. Ashley was a country girl, and loved all the farm animals…especially horses, and especially miniature horses. The reality was that Eric was so smitten with Ashley, that wherever Ashley was going, Eric wanted to go…whether he liked country life or not. The strange thing was, that this city boy suddenly found out that he liked country life…he really liked it.

Over the next seven years I watched as Eric became more and more a country boy…well, a country man. He loved having room to spread out and play with his kids, and have as many farm animals as he and Ashley could possible want. They raise goats, cows, guinea pigs, ducks, chickens, horses, dogs, cats…and kids!! Their two daughters, Reagan and Hattie and a great help around the farm, and no job grosses them out. I know their son, Bowen will soon grow up to be a great help too, but for now he gets to go along for the ride. Bowen likes that just as much as the girls like the work, for now.

Eric has worked for Halliburton for some time now, and is often out of town with his job. That is always tough on the family. Kids need both parents to be around, but at least the kids know that their daddy will be home soon. Eric is a hard worker, and when the bottom dropped out of the oil industry, Eric was able to keep his job. That is important, because he has a family to support. We are all very glad that his job was saved, but sorry that his work is so far away. We are also hoping that very soon, Eric’s job will bring him back home to work. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

13265986_257222344634488_4589898347726366777_n13406763_265886647101391_3366028807812107235_nMy grand niece, Reagan Parmely is a busy little girl. I think that her most important job, at least in her opinion, is being the big sister. Reagan takes it upon herself to help her little sister, Hattie to do things like climbing the hay bales. She also takes her for walks in the mud, and for rides in her truck…yes, Reagan has a truck…that runs. Together, they help around the farm, taking care of the animals, and cuddling the babies. As sisters go, Reagan and Hattie are best friends. Reagan teaches Hattie things…like pushing her big sister on the tricycle, and how the tell the difference between weeds and flowers. They have great times together.

Reagan is a helper. She loves the farm animals, and is a great help when it comes to their care. The size of these animals doesn’t bother her one bit. Most kids would be at least a little apprehensive around a cow or horse that is more that twice their size, but not Reagan, or her sister, Hattie. They know how to act around the animals, and the animals are very gentle with them. Reagan likes to make sure that all the farm animals are where they are supposed to be, In fact, all animals have a proper place, and they should stay there. In Casper, where we live, 13876265_292781794411876_617624038936402311_nimg_5512there are two statues of horses eating the grass at the Quality Inn, and every time Reagan’s family drives by there, Reagan proceeds to tell those horses that they need to get back home to their corral. Now, don’t misunderstand me, she knows they are statues. She just likes saying that to be funny, and we all think it’s funny too.

Reagan likes mobility…of any kind. She rides horse, motorcycles, her truck, bicycle, and of course, the standard walking and running. And she’s pretty good at all of them. I think she was born riding something…or shortly thereafter. She takes everyone in her truck, or at least the ones that fit. I’m not totally sure how the dogs feel about it, but they ride along, so I guess she must be a pretty good driver. Reagan has grown up around a dad that loves motorcycles, a mom who loves horses, and an uncle who loves trucks, so none of this is particularly surprising to me. She has already had her first motorcycle accident, and while she had a shiner, she is a tough 13873017_287974464892609_4907685120331456178_n12049279_134764306880293_1923635950844667072_ngirl, who doesn’t give up. She gets right back on and goes again. She loves hiking with her Oma, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely, and riding her bicycle with her Aunt Brenda Schulenberg, who goes by BR. Together they all work on staying healthy and active. Reagan also loves to work with her grandparents, Albert and Kari Eighmy. They have safe tools for her to use, and she helps them build things around their farm. She loves having all of these people who let her help with things, because she likes to be busy. Today is Reagan’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Kids & CowsKids have always had a fascination with animals. Any animal will do, but pets don’t seem to fall into the same category as other animals. I suppose that the reason for that is that after a little bit of time with a pet, they become normal everyday parts of the family. It doesn’t mean the child doesn’t love the pet, because they do, but the pet is an animal they see everyday, often in the house, so it’s nothing special. Farm animals, on the other hand are something different. Here is an animal that isn’t a domesticated pet, and yet it isn’t afraid of people either. They understand that they need people to bring them their food and water, and they also understand that people aren’t usually scary. Yes, the animal could hurt a child, especially if it stepped on the child, but for the most part the animal is as curious about the child as the child is about the animal.

As small children, my dad and his siblings lived on a farm, so being around farm animals was a part of life. Still, that did not stop the curiosity about those animals from forming in their minds. When they went out to play, a part of their time outside always seemed to be spent visiting the other residents of their home. They would trek out to the haystacks where the cows would be feeding, and watch those strong, yet gentle animals eat, while the cows watched these tiny versions of the people who cared for them watching them. Funny how we all teach our kids not to stare, but when put in a situation like this, all that rudeness doesn’t seem to matter. Both sides are staring anyway, and since it isn’t a person…it just doesn’t matter. I suppose in many ways the whole situation was a lot like the petting zoos that most city children have been to as their only real interaction with farm animals.

When my girls were little, we too had a little place out in the country, and we raised a cow now and them. The girls were quite curious and really wanted to help with our cow. I had to be careful what they helped with, because when it came to grain…our cows always became pigs, and a tiny little girl could get trampled in the cows effort to get to what the cows considered candy. Most of the time the cows were a gentle as they could be, but the grain had to be given in a certain way, and very quickly, because they couldn’t wait to get to it. One cow we had named Rosie, due to her red color, was so excited that she was trying to follow me and still scratch her belly too. The end result was one good, but unintended kick to the back of my knee. It left a knot that stayed with me for the better part of 6 months. It was a good thing for Rosie that I liked her, and it wasn’t butchering time, or she would have been on our table in a matter of days.

Hay was always a very different matter. Little kids could be around cows eating hay, and there Allen, Ruth, & Bill (2)was not a dangerous rush to the food. I suppose that was the vegetables of the whole deal, and we all know how kids, which is what cows are a lot like when it comes to food, are with vegetables. The girls loved to help put the hay in the feeding troths for the cows, and then sit and watch them eat. I suppose it was an interesting sight. If you have never watched a cow eat, you might not know it, but they really are strange when they eat. I suppose that is why Aunt Ruth, Uncle Bill, and my dad were just standing there, out by the haystack when they could have been playing in the snow, just watching the cows eat.

Bob, Jennifer, and baby cowThese days when the fair comes to town, many people think of the rodeo and the petting zoo, but years ago petting zoos didn’t exist. I suppose that might have been because so many people raised their own animals that they didn’t need to go out somewhere to see the farm animals…or at least, many of them didn’t. With the urbanizing of our country, more and more, people don’t get to be around farm animals as much in their everyday lives. I guess that has made us a little nostalgic is some ways. We keep trying to connect to the past in many ways.

I think most little kids these days have been to a petting zoo, but years ago, the petting zoo was out at the barn after the calving was over, and your admission fee was cleaning out that barn. It just didn’t have quite the same effect on a kid, whether they really liked animals or not. Taking care of animals is a messy job, as any rancher or 4-H student can tell you, and not one you usually associate with little girls. Nevertheless, little girls do like babies, and baby cows are very cute.

Personally, I think I would rather go to the petting zoo. We have raised a cow or two in our time living out in the country, and while the baby is cute when you get it, they are messy, and a lot of work. They grow from babyhood very quickly and then they aren’t so cute. They want their grain and they are willing to rush you to get it. Having a cow…sweet as they can be, step on your foot, or accidently kick you while trying to get to that food or Aunt Laura with a baby calfgrain really hurts. Oh, they don’t mean anything by it, but it was not a job I was willing to allow my girls to do,

And the saddest part about raising a cow…the main reason I would rather go to the petting zoo is that once they are grown…they must be butchered. They had been like a pet to us. We had even named them, and then we were expected to eat the meat. It truly got to the point where I could hardly stand to eat it. It’s not that I don’t like beef, because I do. It’s just that I don’t want to know my dinner by name!! No, I’ll buy my beef at the store, and go to a petting zoo, if I really feel the need to get next to nature in that way.

Real CowboysWe have all watched old Western shows, and the cowboys always seem to look very romantic…at least for the period of history they lived in, but the reality was not exactly like that.  Now, I can’t say for sure that none of the cowboys of that day looked like that, but the majority of those men were hard working homesteaders, who lived in an era where there was no running water, and all too often the water they had was needed for crops. The land was hard and dry, and tough to work, because it had never had crops planted in it before. There were rocks to be removed before the land could even be tilled. This was the world our ancestors lived in…if they came out to the wild west, like mine did.

Now don’t get me wrong…they did their best to clean up, when they cleaned up, and they looked real good, but the daily shower that we take for granted, was not possible in those days. Often the same water was used for more than one person, and you had to hope that you weren’t going to be the last one. The cowboys of the old west took a weekly bath and washed their hair every couple of weeks…most of the time…or sometimes anyway. They did not understand hygiene, because no one really knew anything about that then. Off to TownAnd they couldn’t have done much about it if they had, without any running water.

The roads were dirt, the land was dusty, the sun was hot, and the people…well, the people were as clean as they could be under the circumstances, but since the only odor improving items were the perfumes that the women used very sparingly, people just got used to the odors that existed. They were around horses and cows all day, and they had to clean up after those animals. It wasn’t their fault, and there really was nothing that they could have done about it in most cases…it was just the way it really was in the old west, and they were the real cowboys.

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