Monday, November 30, 2009

The Wild West isn't Totally Dead... or Tame

Cattle Rustling isn't just a thing of the past. Please read the following story The Oregonian, talking about cattle rustling in the area where I grew up.

The picture below is my Dad and Cody trailing cows in Malheur county in 2001-- they are Ten Mile Ranch cattle-- definately not stolen!

Stolen Cattle from Oregon Cross over into Idaho  
By RICHARD COCKLE - The Oregonian
JORDAN VALLEY, Oregon— They were spotted from a small airplane, two cattle rustlers on horseback hazing 125 white-faced cows across Malheur County's forbidding empty quarter in Oregon's far southeast corner.

The men, sighted last spring, were pushing the stolen herd south through a high-desert tapestry of chaparral, manzanita, juniper and sagebrush. They looked like ordinary cowboys.

The pilot descended for a closer view but the men didn't look up, said brand inspector Rodger Huffman of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The pilot finally had to break away, and the Malheur County Sheriff's Office didn't hear about the sighting until a week later.

It was one of the few glimpses anyone has caught of men suspected of stealing 1,240 cattle worth $1.2 million over the past three years from Malheur County ranches. Hundreds more cows have been taken in neighboring areas of Idaho and Nevada.

Cattle rustling did not fade away with the Old West. What makes these thieves unusual, investigators said, is the scale and duration of their operations, their use of horses to reach areas inaccessible to car or truck, and the fact that they sometimes drive their plundered herds for days, carefully sweeping around ranches and people.

Ranchers are circulating wanted posters offering a $47,500 reward for information that leads to a conviction. Some are also spending spare time on horseback, ATVs and in pickups and airplanes trying to hunt the rustlers down, Malheur County Undersheriff Brian Wolfe said.

Malheur County sheriff's Deputy Bob Wroten and others suspect the thefts are the work of one group of four to six men who are well-acquainted with the territory.

"The way these cattle are ending up missing, those guys grew up tough," he said. "They lived the life all their lives. They aren't outsiders."

The losses have been devastating. Most of the stolen cattle were females that each year produce calves worth $600 apiece.

About 20 Oregon ranches have been hit, with a dozen taking the brunt of losses, Huffman said. In Humboldt County in Nevada, at least 500 cattle are missing, and still more have been stolen in Owyhee County in Idaho.

Rand and Jayne Collins had 150 cows swiped from their remote Malheur County ranch three years ago.

"The people who stole them had to know this many cattle would be beyond a hardship; it was a catastrophe," said Jayne Collins, 59, of the $150,000 hit. She cried and had a lot of sleepless nights. Lots of sleepless nights.

The cattle were taken from an area so isolated that it's reachable from most of Oregon only by a road that winds into rural Nevada, said Rand Collins, 60. The couple spent hours searching canyons in a friend's airplane without finding a trace.

"I'd like to find them and talk to them for a few minutes," said Jayne Collins, taking a break last week at the Old Basque Inn restaurant in Jordan Valley. "I felt like cutting their ears off."

The rustlers' theater of operations is roughly bounded by Oregon's 30-mile-long Steens Mountain to the west, Winnemucca, Nev., to the south and Murphy, Idaho, to the east. After stealing a herd, the gang sometimes moves across 50 miles of Oregon desert into Idaho, then Nevada.

"Finally, they get them to a place far enough away and move them into a semi-truck and away they go," Malheur County Sheriff Andrew Bentz said. "They may end up four states away from us."

Investigators don't know what's being done with the cows but said Nebraska and Oklahoma don't have brand inspectors to make sure cows are with their owners.

On the rare occasion when someone spots the thieves in the desert, the men usually appear to be cowhands out riding for a few hours, Deputy Wroten said. They're never seen with bedrolls on their saddles or halters on their horses, he said, probably to avoid signaling that they plan to camp and picket their horses.

The men seem to time their thefts for stormy weather when almost nobody is on the desert, said Wroten, a former rancher who patrols a region with about 600 residents in more territory than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

When a range detective hired by a Malheur County ranch spotted two of them during a spring snowstorm, they jumped their horses off a dangerous rimrock and vanished like smoke, Wroten said.

"It's kind of like the old days, way back," said Sheriff Ed Kilgore of Humboldt County. "Sometimes these guys are traveling two, three, four days at a time to get where they are going. They are not in danger of being seen because nobody is out there."

Complicating matters, the cattle sometimes aren't discovered missing for months. Some ranchers still haven't gathered all their cows for winter and don't know if any are gone, Undersheriff Wolfe said. Ranchers also sometimes have too much pride to report a theft.

"People not in the cattle industry don't understand how big a hit this is for the rancher," Kilgore said. "It really hurts."

Like Wroten, Kilgore thinks that if he catches the rustlers, he won't be slapping handcuffs on complete strangers.

"It's people who know cows, who know the country," Kilgore said. "The people who are the victims of the cattle thefts are going to know them."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I'm up to my eyeballs in law school books, outlines, and my final legal memo. I'll catch you up on all the crazy (and somewhat exciting) adventures of the end of my first semester in law school soon...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We will never forget... honoring our veterans!

Happy Veterans Day!

Let’s celebrate and thank all of our friends and family who have served, devoting life, sweat, and blood so that we might have freedom!

This is my mom’s dad, my Grandpa Gordon who served in World War II.

My brother has almost completed his service in the Army, and went to Iraq (twice!), Afghanistan, and Thailand to help promote freedom.

Whatever your politics are, today (and always) let’s celebrate and honor the members of the United States Armed Services!

Hope Unfurled...

One woman took some extra time she had and started writing, started a blog. That blog became ridiculously popular and she was interviewed on CNN and other media. She got a book deal and wrote a cookbook.

The week that cookbook comes out, it goes to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List!

That's right, Pioneer Woman (whom I love) is at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list in her category! The Pioneer Woman Cooks has beat out Julia Childs' Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

I'm excited for Ree, and at the same time, feel a wave of hope that sometime, somewhere, all of this time I've spent putting effort into my blog will help pay off in the end... and maybe something I write and publish will appear on the New York Times Best Seller list too! (although I never can imagine myself beating both Julia Childs or Ree Drummond!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Twilight References in Civ Pro

My professor in Civil Procedure just made a Twilight reference, using the characters Bella, Edward, and Jacob as examples in a hypo showing how to use joinder and impleader (impleading?). Seriously, I think only three people in the class got it (including me!).

Sigh, am I old or are law students boring?!

At least my Civ Pro Prof has joined me in publicly admitting that she likes the Twilight series. I am not alone!

And... sadly, after four hours of classes, that was my take away.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I met the Pioneer Woman! (instead of doing homework!)

For those out there woefully ignorant of the Pioneer Woman, stop reading my blog right now and go to check out her site!

I love the Pioneer Woman...

Respect and admire her, and well, I love her! (But not in a weird creepy way at all!)

And last Monday, I got to meet Ree, the author and creator of The Pioneer Woman blog/website.

It was a big moment, the Pioneer Woman and the Cowgirl in the City meet at last.

To be honest, I rarely get dazzled by celebrities. Although I'll admit that I was pretty excited to see Michelle Kwan in the bathroom, and was jazzed to be eating in the same restaurant as last year's Top Chef. And when working for Starbucks it was always exciting to be serving coffee to famous athletes, comedians, or stars. But I don't ask for autographs or take pictures with people... they're people after all.

But I was a complete geek and was thrilled to attend the Pioneer Woman's book reading/signing. I thought that since she was just a blogger that there would be a max of 100 people attending...

How wrong I was.
Over 500 people came, and the bookstore quickly sold out of the 450 copies of books they carried. I was standing, and towards the middle of the line for the book signing.

After an hour, I couldn't leave, because I'd already stood there for an hour.

After two hours, I was committed, and would stay no matter what.

I made friends with the people standing in line around me, I attempted to do homework, but mostly I just stood, exhausted and tired.

At 10:45, four hours after I had actually arrived at the book store, Ree graciously signed my book and we chatted for a few minutes. I gushed, I know I did. And I took lots of pictures, but I was thrilled.

It was the Pioneer Woman, after all, that got me started blogging the year I got married and realized that I would never be a cowgirl in the country again. I have been writing about being a cowgirl in the city every since.

Thanks to Ree.

It was a big night for me, and I was thrilled to discover that Ree is as nice, lovely, and funny as she appears to be on her website!

Painting the Nest

During the July hail storm that flattened my garden and destroyed our roof, the hail also damaged the paint on our house. The hard golf ball sized hail beat the paint off the back of our house.

While the insurance is only paying for us to paint one and a half sides of our house, we're planning on painting the whole house this year.

I mean really, who just paints 1 and 1/2 sides of their house?!

The picture above shows the back of our little nest, with the garden shed that I painted. I adore and big puffy heart love the dark blue color, called Perfect Storm. (Appropriate no?)

I would love to put shutters on the windows at the back of the house (why don't people put shutters on the back of houses? Doesn't the back deserve to be pretty too?). I would paint the shutters this Perfect Storm Blue.

I have the accent color picked out, but am mentally going back and forth over the main color. The house is now a grayish blue, faded from a baby blue I think. I like the idea of gray blue, a soft color that isn't too white, but neutral enough not to hate.

 But maybe I just am not thinking outside the box enough. Should I be more bold? Should I be more adventurous?

What do you guys think?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Snow Days...

You know when you were a kid, the most magic days would be snow days when school was cancelled so you could stay at home and play in the snow?

I loved thinking fondly of those days... growing up on the ranch we didn't usually have snow days. If we didn't have school for some reason (and think back, I can't think of a day where school was cancelled because of snow) we still had to feed the cows.

But I heard of the wonder of snow days, and when I moved to Denver and got a real job at the University, I got to experience a few snow days (see this post and this).

On Wednesday October 28th, it started snowing.

And snowing...

and snowing...

We had two and a half feet of snow at our house (yes, in October!) and I got a day and a half off of work because of the weather.

I love snow days... and I love Denver!

This morning I'm grateful for...

1. Starbucks Holiday Red Cups have arrived!

2. The Yankees won the World Series
Anything that makes my husband happy makes me happy! I made him pancakes for breakfast to celebrate.

3. Denver is listed as the most Stressed Out City in the Nation
After a new survey, the APA determined that Denver is the most stressed out city in the United States.

I'm glad I don't have to suffer alone! ;)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Becoming Dumber-er

Yup. It's true. Law school is making me dumber.


More idiotic?

All of the above apply. Monday I picked up my Civil Procedure midterm (the one that doesn't really count, but it's still a test) and was not shocked but very discouraged to see that my grade landed me right on the low side of the average student. The professor didn't curve this test, (as I think she didn't want us to all go out and commit group suicide) but it wasn't pretty.

So I'm stressed. The days and hours are ticking down, and I feel like I'm not grasping enough of the material, I'm running out of hours to memorize and ponder facts and terms and those dreaded rules.

And last night, it reached a head.

A big, ugly putrescent head.

I went to a study group our TA was leading for Civil Procedure and we worked through a fact pattern together. I silently hyperventilated through the entire 90 minutes, feeling confused, slow, and my legal comprehension lightyears behind my classmates. When the study group ended I had thirty minutes to kill before we had to take a grammar/punctuation proficiency test. I wasn't too worried about the test, I passed the diagnostic test with a 86% without really trying, and I only needed a 80% or hirer to pass this pass/fail test. So a classmate and I decided to go grab something to eat before the test.

We walked the block to and from the bagel shop, and then I settled in to take the test. Easy Peasy.

As I walked back to my car I congratulated myself on my early evening, and the fact that I'd be at home before 8:30, an early night in my life.

And I told myself, I don't have to work out, I can feel myself getting stronger, just carrying my backpack loaded with books seems to be strengthening my back and core muscles.

In fact, I could hardly feel the books in my backpack. I really was getting stronger. Then I paused, almost tripping on the curb-- when I walked to class I couldn't fit all the books into my backpack, I had to carry my big Civil Procedures book, all 10 pounds of it. Odd, that now everything fit into my bag.

The feeling of dread haunted me as I hustled the last 100 feet to my car.

I forgot something, somewhere... but what was it?

I unlocked the car door and started rooting through my bag. My big Civ Pro book was there.

Legal Writing book was there.

Hornbook was there

Wallet was there...

but wait...

Where was my Laptop?

I sprinted back to the law school, certain that I would never again see my laptop or the three months worth of notes and briefs and legal memos that made up my first semester of law school. I ran up the four flights of stairs, babbled incohertly at my startled classmates and TA's, past startled janitors, and skidded around the corner to the study room where we had met.

There, sitting proudly in the middle of the table sat my laptop, with my pen neatly beside it.

My laptop, shining in all of its grey metal/plastic... sat alone, in the middle of a table, in an unlocked room, on a busy college campus, on a Wednesday evening for over an hour.

And no one stole it.

I am feeling blessed, very lucky, and perhaps I might survive this semester after all. I mean if no one is going to steal my laptop, it's not that much of a bigger stretch to imagine that I might, just might pass all of my classes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Weekend Away from my Troubles

Less than five weeks left before finals. I am weary, worried, and terrified. Apparantly this is a normal reaction for every other 1L, I'm just combining with the normal stress of working a full time job.

Instead of spending the last few weekends holed up in the library, I've been relaxing a bit... spending time with family, and doing what I love so well.

And yeah, avoiding law school and pretending that my apathetic denial of looming finals will make them disappear.

The chef and I escaped to my parent's ranch for a short weekend trip in October.

Yup, that's me. In my element, riding a horse, chasing cows, no smog, machines, mechanized vehicles in site. My cell phone doesn't even work out there. I was in pure, technology free, blissful heaven.

I have to say that I was thrilled that I'd be able to be on a horse again, it had been about six months, and I was going through serious horsey withdrawals.

We had to wean the calves off of this particular bunch of cows, and so we needed a whole crew of cowboys to round up the herd. My Grandpa, Dad, Mom, Cousin Cody and his Preggo wife Linzy, and myself saddled up and headed out.

Only one problem arose-- my mom has been riding my incredible horse Flash, and so I was without a horse.

My Dad didn't bat an eye and as we were at the barn catching horses, he gestured to a sorrel horse already caught and munching grain. "You'll ride Trouble today. That Ok?"

Trouble was one of Dad's newest cowponys, a colt about three years old that he'd bought green broke the year before.

I nodded enthusiastically, "Sure!" Any chance I had of riding Dad's horses was always a pleasure.

We saddled up, and I stroked Trouble's long mane and scratched his ears, eager to have a go at this beautiful horse. Before I could mount, Dad came up behind me and said, "Maybe I should ride him down a bit. He's pretty green yet."

Hmm... that had me worried. I haven't been a horseback for half of a year, and Dad was putting me on a young horse that needed to be ridden down? Gulp... what was I getting in to?

Dad mounted, and rode the colt around the corral a few times, turning him this way and that, just to work the kinks out of Trouble, and remind him what a saddle and bridle are for, and that the man on top was in control.

When I took the reins five minutes later, I wondered if I was going to utterly embarrass myself in front of my family by getting bucked off. We mounted and headed off, Trouble had a little hump in his back, a sign of the cold fall morning, and a sign that he wasn't completely settled, and could start bucking at any moment.
He tensed up, I tensed. And then Trouble "baked biscuits" as Grandma Marge used to say, and we continued the ride.

Dad and I riding the sandhills (above).

We'd ridden about three miles, when I realized that while Trouble was a young horse, and still was in a training bridle and needed to be side reined, the horse was as gentle as a lamb.

Trouble was his name, but he certainly wasn't.

Dad never said anything, but I expect this was just a little cowboy humor. Let's tease the city girl, and let her think that she was in danger of getting bucked off the wild bronc.

Sigh. I guess by the amount of saddle sores and the fact I couldn't sit down without wincing for days that I'm truely becoming a city girl...
Well, not at heart anyway.

PS. Baking Biscuits has nothing to do with baking... although on a cold morning, steam is involved. Use your imagination.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

refreshing weekend...

So... great last week, two snow days, weekend with family, a book signing... much to tell, and currently am swamped at work... so no time to tell. But I'll update my blog soon, and fill you in on all the details!

Happy Tuesday everyone!


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