ranch

My sister, Caryl Reed has had a busy year this year. She and her husband, Mike Reed own a 35-acre ranch west of town, and for several years now, they have been growing hay for sale. It’s a big job, with big equipment. They bought a Commercial Farm Irrigation System, which is very impressive…to those of us who live in the city anyway. That makes watering their crops so much easier. They were boarding horses for a while, but with the distance to their place, it was hard to keep the horses. They hare happy without horses for now. That might change later, I suppose, because Caryl really does like horses.

In mid-November 2023, Caryl and Mike took a trip out to Oregon to visit their kids, Allen and Gaby Beach. From there, they went on a camping trip in the area. Allen and Gaby showed them some places they knew of, and they showed them some places they had found. The four of them had such a nice trip, and the dogs all enjoyed it too. One of the highlights was their visit to Crater Lake, which was a favorite of our parents, Allen and Collene Spencer, but the entire trip was amazing. They visited the Redwoods and parts of California, and the Oregon coast. They had a fantastic time.

Caryl and Mike feel so blessed to have been able to live on their ranch. They have wanted this for a long time. In fact, it is their retirement home, and every morning, when they get up, they feel a deep degree of blessing as they look out at the beautiful view they have been blessed with. Over the years, Caryl has lived in a number of places, such as California, Washington, and Idaho, but no place ever really felt like home until she returned to Wyoming, and while she lived in Rawlins for a while, Casper was where she was born and raised, and it is the place she really calls home. For my sisters and me, having Caryl back in Casper has been a really great blessing too. When she lived in all those other places, there was always that hole in the family, where she and her family should have been. We are a close family, and we like having everyone close. Of course, that can’t always happen. Each of us have children and grandchildren that live far away, and we really miss them every day. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I have been very privileged to have had two men that I called “Dad” who were both among the kindest men I have ever met. My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg became my second “Dad” when I married my husband, Bob Schulenberg in 1975. He was a hardworking man, almost to the point of being a workaholic, but that was common for the times and the bigger families that people had. My in-laws, Walt and Joann had six children, of which my husband was the third child and first boy. In big families, there is, by necessity, a certain amount of joking and teasing. It’s really the only way to make sure the kids aren’t always fighting. Everyone’s kids need to know how to hake a joke. They also, need to know how to tell one in good clean fun. Dad taught them well, as did my parents, so Bob and I were quite compatible in that way, as well as many others, of course.

My father-in-law spent most of his childhood living on ranches and learned his work ethic there. When you are raising cattle, there is little sleeping in until noon. As with most kids of that era, the workload was shared. The parents couldn’t be expected to take care of everything, especially when there are perfectly healthy kids who can help. He helped with chores around the house, and later with everything from feeding the animals to branding them. Over the years he raised some animals of their own, although not to the grand scale that he had grown up with. I was raised in town, so cows, chickens, rabbits, and the like were a little foreign to me. Nevertheless, if you put your mind to it, you can learn just about anything, and my in-laws were good teachers.

Later in his life, my father-in-law moved my mother-in-law and their eldest daughter, Marlyce to town. While he no longer raised animals, he planted a garden in the back yard, from which my mother-in-law canned the vegetables. His also built a hobby barn, really just a tall and fairly large shed, where he could tinker around making different crafts. He made wooden toys and wind spinners. They graced his yard for the rest of his life, as well as may yards around town. People would see them and want to buy them. He also refurbished lawn chairs, actually making them far more beautiful than they had previously been. He was an accomplished contractor, though mostly just for himself and his family. Nevertheless, he did make so steps for people and a few other things over the years. His was a life well lived, and it makes me sad that he has been gone for eleven years now. Nevertheless, time marches on, and today I find that he did leave us eleven years ago today. I still miss him every day.

My husband, Bob Schulenberg’ grandmother, Vina Hein was born of Groundhog Day. I don’t know if she thought that was cool or not, but I suspect she did. I think it would a fun birthday to have. Not that I would want it to be mine. Isn’t it funny that our birthday…no matter which day that is for you…always seems like the most special birthday of all. Most of us wouldn’t change that day for any other day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday, the first day of the month, the last day of a month, or any day in between, it’s your own day…and that’s all that matters.

Of course, as for Groundhog Day, for the “Winter Weary” ones of the population, that is an important day. I’m sure that Punxsutawney Phil gets his predictions wrong as often as he gets them right. Nevertheless, countless numbers of people watch the news to find out what he had to say today. This turned out to be a rare year, in which Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, and therefore predicted an early Spring. It’s not really surprising, in that we have also had a mild Winter, but it is not common for Winter to give up so easily…and trust me when I say, that I really hope the prediction is correct. I, for one, and over Winter, with the first snow. I can get all the Winter I need in a picture or a Christmas card. I’m so ready for April showers that bring May flowers. I’m ready for lovely walks along the trails near my house, and the greenness that I hope we get again. Come on Spring!!

I think Grandma Hein would have agreed with me on that one, because Winters on the ranch were not easy. The Montana winters can be really harsh, and when you live on a ranch, you might find yourself snowed in for weeks at a time. I can picture Heaven for Grandma as beautiful spring flowers, and soft breezes, not to cold and not too hot…and not too much work to do. Although, I can’t imagine her just sitting around too much. She did like being busy. I look forward to seeing her again, when I get to Heaven. Today is the 115th anniversary of Grandma Hein’s birth…and Groundhog Day too. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma Hein. We love and miss you very much!! And Happy Groundhog Day, everyone.

My husband’s aunt, Esther Hein is the middle child of her mom, Vina Hein’s children and the oldest of her dad, Walt Hein’s children. Theirs was a blended family, because Grandma Hein was divorced from her first husband. Sadly, Esther also now finds herself the last of those five siblings. The last of her siblings, Butch Hein was killed in a car accident on October 13, 2023, in Forsyth. As the middle child, I’m sure Esther never expected to be the last of the siblings alive, but now, here she is. Life has not been easy for Esther these past few years. In addition to the health problems Esther has had since Covid started, she has also been dealing with a daughter, Cindy who has been in poor health. That has probably been the hardest thing, because she couldn’t see Cindy much. Cindy’s immune system is compromised, so it is too dangerous. Many people, including me, have been praying over both of them.

Esther has always had such a soft heart. Things that happened to people Esther loved, even if they weren’t life threatening, upset her terribly. All she wants is for everyone she loves to be ok. Of course, that is what we all want for our loved ones, but Esther wears her heart on her sleeve. Sometimes, it’s hard to see or hear her be worried about the people she cares about, but then, I guess it’s hard to watch anyone be worried about someone. It is much better to see Esther when she is happy and showing her love for people in the things she makes and does for them. I will never forget how pleased my in-laws, Walt (Esther’s half brother) and Joann Schulenberg were with the things she made them. She made curtains for their bathroom, and several paintings for their living room. They didn’t get to see her very often, because she lives in Oregon, and they lived in Casper, Wyoming, but they did make trips to see her after my father-in-law retired. They visited he for a number of years, but then my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and travel wasn’t so easy anymore. I know my father-in-law missed going to see his sister, and she missed him too.

For Esther, not being able to see her brother and sister-in-law, was maybe worse that other people she didn’t get to see much, because as a little girl, when her brother was already married, Esther lived with them during the winter months. School was very important, and the Montana winters didn’t always make it easy to get Esther into town from the family ranch. The three of them became close, even if Ester had to be told to behave by my mother-in-law a number of times. Kids outgrow the antics of childhood eventually, and then Esther and her sister-in-law just became friends. Those were good times though. I know Esther’s help entertaining her young nieces, Marlyce Schulenberg and Debbie Cook, and maybe nephew Bob Schulenberg was nice for my mother-in-law too. Those would definitely qualify to be called the “good old days” for sure. Today is Esther’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Mike Reed doesn’t always spend his birthday with the guys, but when he does, he really does it up right. This year, doing it up right meant a brothers and brothers-in-law trip to Seward, Alaska to go fishing, and boy…did they go fishing!! The “gang” included Mike’s brothers, Tim and Shawn Reed; brothers-in-law, Mike Stevens and Kevin Forbis; as well as Mike’s nephew, Josh Reed (Shawn’s son). Their trip started with a drive from Casper, Wyoming to Denver, Colorado. After a short night in a hotel, the headed to a very busy Denver International Airport at 3:30 in the morning…finally arriving at their gate at 5:20am for a 6:00am flight to Seattle. Then it was on to Anchorage where they rented a car and drove to Seward and finally got to relax in their Airbnb.

Three days of fishing began the next morning with a great haul. The guys had a wonderful time talking and fishing, and it looks like everyone caught fish. There were some extra big fish, which is common in Alaskan waters, and I’m sure the guys loved them. Catching a big fish is always challenging and very cool. When you get them in the boat, you know that you have accomplished something. I’m not a fisherman, but I know a lot of people who find great satisfaction is fishing, and most of my brothers-in-law are among those people. So, Mike and the gang are out having a guys’ week, doing one of the things they really love…fishing.

Mike works really hard. He and my sister, Caryl Reed own a ranch on the west side of Casper, where they grow oats, while they work their way into a good form of hay. They have a huge irrigation system, and Mike goes out there and wrestles that sprinkler system around to take good care of their crop. Crops like these can’t be left to chance. There is a specific way to grow these, and a process that leads up to producing hay. I did not know that, and quite possibly, Mike and Caryl didn’t either…but they are learning. Mike has purchased a tractor, and whatever else was needed to run their ranch successfully, and has embraced the process of being a rancher, and we are quite proud of his progress. They don’t raise animals right now, but no one knows what the future might bring. Mike and Caryl are both retired now, so they can do anything they want to, including travel. For now, they are enjoying life to the fullest and for Mike, that means occasional hunting and fishing trips too. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! I hope you and the guys are having a blast!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband’s uncle, Butch Hein is the youngest of his grandmother, Vina Hein’s five children. Grandma had two children, Marion Kanta and Walt Schulenberg (my husband’s dad) from her first marriage to Andrew Schulenberg; and three children, Esther Hein, Eddie Hein, and Bernard “Butch” Hein, from her second marriage to Walt Hein. Durning her second marriage, the family lived on the ranch that had been owned by Walt’s dad, Christian Hein. Because of that, ranching was practically a part of Butch’s DNA, It was as much a part of his as the air he breathed. While the older children really didn’t want to be ranchers, Butch really did, and since parents usually try to pass their lives’ work down to their kids, Walt had hoped that one of his kids would want to be a rancher. Butch fulfilled the desire his dad had. They worked the ranch together, and when Walt was ready, Butch took over in his dad’s retirement years.

Butch was quite a bit younger than my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, so his nieces and nephews were not that much older than their uncle. Butch was just four years old when he first became an uncle, and by the time he was ten years old he had five nieces and one nephew, and more would follow in quick succession. By the time his siblings were done having children, Butch would have nineteen nieces and nephews. He would also have a son named Scott, and a daughter named Crista, who died in infancy. In reality, Butch didn’t really remember life without nieces and nephews. I’m sure that as a you uncle, or more correctly, a kid who was an uncle, having nieces and nephews gave Butch a lot of “friends” to play with, in addition to his older sister and brother.

There is lots to do on a ranch. In addition to the cattle, there are horses to ride and usually other animals to help out with. Life on a ranch usually includes other types of animals that can be used to food, as well as a garden, which I know Grandma had. What kid do you know that wouldn’t go and have a little “garden raid” when they wanted a snack. Beans and carrots make great fresh snacks, and I’m sure Butch and his siblings took full advantage of that fact, although probably not to a large extent, because if you eat all the vegetables in the garden, your Mom and Dad would be sure to notice. Besides that, helping on a ranch keeps a kid pretty busy. Most of their “snacks” were in the form of big meals at mealtime. As hard as the work was, Butch thrived on it, and couldn’t wait to work on the ranch with his dad as an adult. Him taking over the ranch was inevitable, and Butch was very happy about that. Today is Butch’s birthday. Happy birthday Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When our cousin, Larry Hein was a kid, my husband, Bob; our kids, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce; and I went to visit family in Forsyth, Montana every summer. Larry was older than our girls by 6 and 7 years, respectively. That could have made him not want to hang out with the girls, but Larry also had a little sister, Kim Arani, and that made him able to understand the kinds of games and such that little girls wanted to play. Grandma Hein had a playhouse on the ranch she and Grandpa Hein owned, and for the girls, it was the coolest place to play. Larry didn’t mind playing house with the girls, even though it was probably not that interesting for him. He was just that kind of a kid. Easy going and a good brother and older cousin. I was thankful, because the girls wanted to get to know their cousins, and the girls and Kim wanted to play girls games.

Larry was a big help to Grandma Hein too, as I recall. Work on a ranch is really never done, and while kids don’t usually do the work of a ranch hand, they can help with things like gardening, mucking stalls, feeding the chickens and other animals, and definitely playing with the dogs that always seem to be part of a ranch. Larry was a good-natured kid, and he loved his grandparents. He was easy to get along with, and respectful to his elders. He was always a joy to be around.

As an adult, Larry started a mechanics shop and towing service. In the small town of Forsyth, Montana, he was pretty much the only show in town on those kinds of services, meaning that he was often busier than he could handle. His shop always had vehicles waiting their turn, and the towing part of the business kept him running a lot. After Larry’s dad, Ed Hein died, Larry did his best to keep his business running while helping his mom, Pearl and his sister, Kim deal with their grief. He was a good man, but Larry lost his life to a heart attack just three months and two weeks later. The two losses were devastating to the whole family. Today would have been Larry’s 54th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Larry. We love and miss you very much.

My brother-in-law, Mike Reed is starting out on a new life adventure and a new phase in his life. On July 12, 2022, after 39 years, almost to the day, with Sinclair Oil Company, Mike began his retirement. Sinclair had been purchased by a company called Holly, and it seemed like a good time for Mike to take his next life steps. Mike, and my sister, Caryl have been working toward and looking forward to this day for about five years now. They bought some land outside Casper, where Caryl was born, and we, all of her sisters still live. They built a house and barn on the property and have been raising crops for a couple of years now…long distance. The first year they raised oats, and this year it’s a mixture of alfalfa, oats, and grass. I never knew this, but that is how you get to where you can raise hay. Since they lived too far to handle the day-to-day care, they have worked a deal with a neighbor to help with the watering so far, but they really want to be able to handle that job themselves instead to relying on the neighbor. While that has worked ok, their hearts desire is to be in Casper, even though, they will be leaving their two daughters and two grandchildren in Rawlins. Thankfully, Rawlins isn’t too far away, and they can make the trip back and forth periodically to visit.

Retirement might be a bit of adjustment for Mike, who is used to being in charge of quite a few men and women…for about five minutes, I would guess. For most people, retirement doesn’t take very long to “get used to” and find that you really love. Mike will have lots to do anyway. He is an avid hunter and fisher, and now he can head out to the lake and fish to his heart’s content. He can also get hunting licenses here and be able to go on day hunts, if he wants to. There is always work to be done on their little ranch. They have been beautifying their yard, and they had renters in the other house on the property who had horses, but they don’t anymore. They’ll take down the corral, because they aren’t going to raise horses.

Mike loves classic cars. And he owns several. He has also fixed up and sold some cars that needed love and refurbishing. Some of the cars they’ve had are really nice. He also loves their trike and traveling around on them with the wind in their faces. They are slowly phasing out their lives in Rawlins and transferring their lives to Casper. We are all so excited about having them move to Casper. We are all looking forward to spending time together. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Caryl Reed is my junior by three years, but since we are both grown up, the years really don’t make much difference. It’s the same with all my sisters really. We are all like-minded…the products of the good upbringing of our parents, Al and Collene Spencer. While our parents are in Heaven now, I think they would be very proud of their “prayer warrior” daughters. Our parents raised us to be believing Christians, and in these turbulent times, I can’t imagine living without God’s leading in my life. I know my sisters feel the same way.

Caryl currently lives in Rawlins, for a few more months. Then she and her husband Mike Reed will begin their new life on “the ranch” outside Casper. They have been working very hard to get their beautiful ranch up and running. They had a home built there, as well as a “barn” with a huge garage area to store their farming equipment in and a recreation/trophy room to house the trophies from Mike’s hunting trips. There is also an apartment above the “barn” which can be rented out or used as a guest house if needed. They have had their first two crops of hay already, and these were both sold to their neighbor, who was so excited to buy locally and very close to home. All in all, “the ranch” has been a very successful “side gig” for them.

Of course, the “side gig” part of the ranch isn’t the main reason they bought the ranch. Caryl and Mike love the atmosphere of the ranch. It is far enough outside of town to be quiet and peaceful. The views from their windows, especially from the dining room are simply stunning. Being there is the single most relaxing part of their lives today…as well as the most work, because on a working ranch, sitting for hours admiring the view of the mountains isn’t really an option for very long. Caryl and Mike are always improving the place. They basically built everything from scratch. There was a small house…that their friend and ranch hand lives in; and birthing buildings…that had to be torn down. Other than that, the ranch was raw land. Now is it beautiful, and a wonderful home for them.

Caryl has always been a country girl at heart. I lived in the country for about 20 years, but I can’t say that I was a country girl. As my sister, Alena Stevens once said, “You are a city girl. You just sleep in the country.” Hahahahaha!! So true, Alena. So true. Caryl, however, really always wanted to live on a ranch, with horses, and possibly a number of other animals, especially dogs. Caryl has always embraced everything country, and very soon, she will be living there full time. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

With school ending for her and high school graduation arriving, my grand-niece, Jala Satterwhite is looking to the future, and making plans for what she wants to do with her life. Jala is ready for a break from school, and has no plans at this time to go to college. Many students are ready for a break from school after so many years in it, and the past two school years have been especially hard with Covid lockdowns, online classes, and now the in school mask mandate. It has been very frustrating. Really, at this point, she wants to work on a ranch. Jala loves horses and riding, and really other animals too, but not like her beloved horses.

Like most kids, Jala is ready to spread her wings, try new things, and get a place to call her own. It’s all about independence, even if their parents weren’t super strict or confining, there comes a time when every kid wants to make their own decisions. That time often arrives right after graduation, be it high school or college. So, once she starts working full time, Jala is going to find a place to rent with one of her friends.

With all the Covid restrictions, Jala hasn’t done any sports for the last couple years. That is a sad turn of events, because Jala was very good in sports, but with the last quarter of the 2019-2020 school year completely online, there were no sports, no conditioning for sports, and a general change of interests in many students. With school back in session now, students are often not ready for the work it takes to get back into competition readiness. It’s almost like it was stolen from them. The same applies to in-school classes…especially at the college level. They found out that it can be done online, so why go in person. Jala has lots of time to go back to college, if she so desires. It’s never too late to learn and to get a degree. I’m sure Jala will make good choices for her future, she is a smart girl, and she will do whats best for her.

I can’t believe Jala’s graduation is here already. I remember when she was born!! Where has the time gone. She should still be a little girl, but time waits for no man, and Jala has grown up, whether we like it or not. The day has arrived. Happy high school graduation Jala!! We love you!!

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