In farm and ranch country, a piece of property or land typically has a name of some sort. It may be called by it’s legal description (which is far too much for me to remember!) or a fun brand/ranch name, or a direction (the northeast pasture) or in our case, the last name of the previous owner. The Kottmeyer Place, as Matt, the kids and I are fondly calling it, is a pasture that has been in my family since the 1920’s. My great grandma, Lydia Kottmeyer raised her family there, one of which was my Grandma Ruby. When Matt and I got engaged, Grandma Ruby and I went to the nursing home to let Grandma Kottmeyer know the good news. When we told her Matt had given me a diamond, she stated, “Oh how nice! Fred is in Africa getting me a diamond!” As her mind aged, we just played along and were excited with her, why not, right? And in her defense, Fred was her husband. 🙂 She was still alive when Kaydee was born; we had her funeral the day after Kaydee was baptized.
When my brothers, sister, and I were little, we went over to visit Grandma Kottmeyer fairly often. One of her sons, Roy, lived with her in the only house that was ever there. They never had running water in the house – yes, I got the full on experience of using an outhouse! No, I don’t think I would have chosen to have that as a bucket list item to someday cross off, but, check that – did it! They did have electricity and a phone, tv, even a sink…just not running water or a bathroom. Regardless of the “facilities”, it was so much fun to go there – there was all kinds of exploring to do!
They kept a pile of empty bottles and cans out by the corner of the driveway under a tree. Oh goodness, the treasures that could be found! On the best days, Mom would visit with Grandma long enough that Roy Henry had time to saddle up Lady and take us kids, one at a time, on a ride across the pasture to the creek on the opposite side and catch sand puppies (lizards). Along the ride, he would point out different grasses and weeds and tell us which ones the cows liked best or if the roots were safe for people to eat. Roy Henry was also one of the truck drivers for us during harvest. Now you may remember from a blog post a LONG time ago that Grandma Ruby hosted the “Grandma Ruby school of truck driving.” She was very patient and taught us many life lessons. Roy Henry was the one to have fun with! While we waited for the truck to be full, we would race; but we never ran, we always had to skip or trot or gallop. We learned to whistle with brome grass blades like and the most fun was waving at every oncoming vehicle and keeping a tally of how many were friendly and waved back. Good times!
Inside the little, run down house, Grandma kept a table full of violets that bloomed constantly. We were always welcome to eat the whole stash of store bought cookies (until Mom told us we had enough) and to this day, I can taste the cold, perfect water that I drank straight from the enamel dipper as we filled the bucket from the hand pump water hydrant.
This year Matt and I were asked if we would like to purchase the property, as everyone wanted it to stay in the family. We are both honored and blessed to have this opportunity! We have all kinds of dreams for the place, but first, we had to put up new fence – a lot of it! And there will be more to do next year!
We have also been working on clearing what was left of the buildings and old equipment that were there. We celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary digging a hold and burning the house and barn.
I know it was a bittersweet event for some in the family, but those structures, or what was left of them, had stopped serving any purpose other than a hangout for raccoons long ago.
The cows that are in the pasture are loving it and we are loving the chance to dream about someday making the Kottmeyer Place the Caldwell Cattle headquarters. A good date night is sitting on a tailgate with a cold beer trying to picture new pens, a barn and maybe a house. Dream big, they say…we are! Maybe in another hundred years it will be known as the Caldwell Place…just maybe.