Shhh… they’re sleeping

Our sweet niece Tay is out of school for the summer and here to stay for a few days.

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I don’t have to tell you that our kids adore Tay, and as far as they’re concerned, there is no better time than the times she’s here with us.

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Branding was called off yesterday because of rain the night before, so we had time on our hands for a change.  In the afternoon Beau took us all for a hike.

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We live here in this beautiful piece of Montana, and usually we’re so busy managing the land and the cattle on it that we don’t take the time to enjoy it.  My suspicion is this:  Where we see a 5-section pasture, a person not indoctrinated to the profession of corporate ranching might see a wilderness brimming with natural beauty and recreational opportunity.

Beau and I hope to give our kids the chance to see both sides of the coin — or, in other words, the country from both the back of a working cow horse and from one’s own two feet.  It’s not such a difficult goal to aspire to because, as a benefit to this job we give ourselves heart and soul to, we truly do have unlimited access to a quarter million acres of rolling prairie, sandrocks, pine coulees, and creek bottoms.  The only thing standing in our way, actually, might be the busy-ness of too much work and not enough play.

So yesterday we all hiked down a deep, dark coulee in a pasture a few miles from our house.  It’s a stretch I’ve helped to gather bulls out of many times, but I’ve always been so busy looking for the bulls that I’d never taken the time to look — I mean really look — at God’s creation on display here.

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The hike was all wonder and awe…

… until we ran into the ticks.  Over thirty of them we’ve pulled off the seven of us (so far).

And then came the mosquitoes.

So we ended up hightailing it out of there with a crying baby, a cranky 7-year-old, a 3-year-old who couldn’t walk another step for obvious reasons (thank you, Tay, for carrying her out), and a whiny 5-year-old girl who was convinced she had ticks under her underpants.

But as they say in rodeo, you’re either gonna win something or learn something, right?

We learned yesterday that for the next hike we’ll be requiring jeans and boots on each kid, and carrying at least one can of bug spray.

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(Tay took a picture of me with my kids!)

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(And then she camped out with them last night in the front yard!)

(No wonder I love having her here!)

© Tami Blake

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