The Kottmeyer Place

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!

Roy Henry

Roy Henry

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.

It’s a Choice…

This week I heard a most profound statement:  “You will feel much greater success when you see your circumstance as a choice rather than a sacrifice.”  Bam! Right in the forehead!  Yes!  Now, I typically do keep that attitude, but I know there have been times where I was certainly less than cheerful about the choice I had made and attempted to qualify myself as a hero for sacrificing SSSOOO much.  That statement was made in a room chock full of successful agriculture women, but it is completely suitable for all people – men, women, urban, rural, everybody.

So, here are a few of my choices, not sacrifices:

  1. I chose to marry a man who’s trade training was in welding; not someone who would likely provide me the opportunity to fly in his corporate jet or take luxurious vacations or live in a mansion. I chose a man who treats me like a queen, makes our home feel like the richest place on earth with his wit and charm, and can make any weekend hanging out together as fun as any possible vacation.  And yes – we have treated ourselves to a few really great vacations🙂dsc_5038
  2. We choose to live an hour drive away from the nearest shopping.  We get to plan when to be in town and we learn to keep essential supplies on hand.  We could live where there is a Target just minutes away and going to the movies could be a spur of the moment thing to do. Instead, we choose to rent a movie on our satellite, see millions of stars at night, watch a lunar eclipse without going anywhere but our front deck, and grill burgers at home rather than driving through somewhere.IMG_1604
  3. I choose to have a career and be a farm wife and a mom. I have chosen to make time for the kids activities, while showing them that a woman can have a rewarding career in what has traditionally been known as a “man’s world.”  I have also chosen to be involved in organizations where I feel I am contributing to the betterment of the things I love (church, the beef community, all of agriculture, 4-H, FFA, and so on).IMG_7873

While some may say I sacrificed convenience, culture, time with family, or lavish lifestyle, I believe I CHOSE true love, happiness, cherished memories, and genuine appreciation of ALL things, great and small. (Though admittedly, I do NOT appreciate the snakes crawling through my flower beds!)  I guess wherever you are and whatever you do, everyday seems much better if you remember you chose to go the direction you did and you can choose to change it!

More than a few people have asked me lately, “Do you put your cows inside when it gets really cold out?” Oh, goodness…we don’t have the biggest herd in the world, but it would still take quite a structure to keep them all in!

There is no doubt, this winter has been an interesting one. We have had long stretches of temps below zero at night and only in the single digits during the day. And then, and NOT disappointing to my cold-intolerant body, we have had some grill outdoors, play-in-the-yard, wear-short-sleeves kind of days! As much as I love those warm days for me, they are actually too warm for the cows who have their “winter coats” on.

Mama and Baby

Mama and Baby

As you can tell from the picture, the cows don’t get to be indoors when it is cold out. We will bring in one who is ready to calve, let the baby get good and dry and nurse, and then turn them out.  God made animals, cattle in particular, very hardy! We certainly do our best to keep them comfortable by having shelter from wind, putting down bedding (straw), and always making sure they have hay to eat and fresh water.  They have a layer of fat, thik skin, and plenty of hair to keep them comfortable.  While I am layering on the amazingly sexy layers of long johns, sweatshirts, coveralls, and coats, those mama’s are doing just fine in their God-given body armor.

So, as we go through these last weeks (I so dearly hope…last…) of winter, enjoy some delicious stew or meatloaf, or whatever you consider comfort food. Before you know it, the grass will begin turning green and it will be time to grill for every meal!

Even when it’s cold, we get to enjoy views like this…


A Healthy Heart…

So, Valentine’s Day is coming soon…are you excited or dreading it? There are so many of us who secretly wish for flowers and a surprise romantic night out that our husband or boyfriend has been planning for weeks.  ~Sigh~  Those things don’t happen in real life. At least not for anyone I know. In real life, a cow needs help as she tries to calve or a pickup gets stuck, or cows are out, or the tractor won’t start. These things don’t happen every day; just on days that us girls of the world want to have a special date.  So, a kiss after the calf is born, a high-five after pulling out a stuck vehicle, a hug between chores – they keep the everyday romance alive🙂 On the bright side, my charming husband and I do go out on Valentine’s Day to our local Cattlemen’s Banquet and spend the evening with wonderful friends, tons of laughter, and enjoy a delicious beef meal.  The night helps my heart be healthy both figuratively and literally. Good times, laughter in particular, is good for the soul and for the heart!  Beef is also good for the heart! Win, win!!!!

My Valentine

My Valentine

Several years ago, a study was conducted to explore the effects of including beef in your diet on a daily basis.  The results were astounding!  You can read more about the BOLD study.  I guess I am just thankful to know that what I typically eat is NOT causing my heart to be less healthy! Happy Valentine’s Day to me!!!!  Seriously, if you are having any cholesterol challenges, please go to the link and consider what delicious options you have to help yourself be healthier!

Here is a fun recipe to make that is absolutely part of a healthy diet…


Beef & Vegetable Skillet --
  • Total Recipe Time: 30 minutes
  • Makes 4 servings


  1. 1-1/4 pounds Top Sirloin Steak boneless, cut 3/4 inch thick
  2. 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  5. 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
  6. 2 tablespoons water
  7. 3 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
  8. 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  9. 3 tablespoons ketchup
  10. 2 cups hot cooked rice, prepared without butter or salt


  1. Cut beef steak lengthwise in half and then crosswise into 1/4 inch strips. Toss with sesame oil and garlic.
  2. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef (1/2 at a time); stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until outside surface is no longer pink. Remove from skillet.
  3. In same skillet, add bell pepper, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and water; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until pepper is crisp-tender. Add spinach and green onions; cook until spinach is just wilted. Stir in ketchup, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and beef; heat through. Serve over rice.

I hope you have someone to enjoy this deliciousness with & you have a heart that is healthy in every way.  And now, just because Emmet is sitting with me as a write & he said so…Bacon; bacon; bacon; bacon; bacon…..and some more bacon!

(Maybe I should give him a pack of bacon as a Valentine’s present! )

Where did your footsteps take you today and what kind of footprints did you leave behind?

This past Sunday Matt and I got to attend a special church service. The little church (very near where we farm and ranch in Kansas) celebrated 125 years! His grandparents were pastors there at the time they were killed in a car accident in the 1960’s. The message of the sermon was about footprints. My mind immediately began racing about the steps we take and footprints we leave in our farming and ranching choices. The bulletin for the service was titled “Celebrating Northbranch Heritage”; every farmer’s heritage is determined by his choice of footsteps.

(I didn’t have a picture from when the kids were little of boots – but this one is darn cute!)

I can’t help but think of how BIG some guys feet are and how ADORABLE toddlers are when they try to stand in the boots of those big men! Those young people are shaping their hopes and dreams based on the footprints we leave. Are we constantly stumbling? Are we walking proudly? Are we taking scary paths? Are we taking time to let them follow closely?

Just to lighten this up a bit…I guarantee, several times a week, we step in a pile of poop. When you have cattle in pens, there is bound to be a footprint in a cow pie. There are various ways to then clean those boots or shoes – just make sure you do before heading in the house! And I know I have attempted to step over an electric fence, only to lose my balance and get a zap on my inner thigh – yep, go ahead, laugh along with me! It’s all one can do when that happens! I hope our kids see when, in life, we figuratively “step in the poop” and learn from our mistakes! I also hope they notice that younger kids are already looking to them as an example and they REALLY need to carefully select their path!

Matt and I have been blessed with some pretty amazing footsteps to follow & we have blazed our own path a few times & all we can hope is that our “heritage” is meaningful in some way decades from now. Regardless, those who know us, are not a bit surprised by the spot in our path where there are tons of prints all in one area…those are the times we are dancing!

dsc_5009 (1)

Make A Wish…

I have to think that one of the most universal traditions is making a wish when blowing out candles on a birthday cake! If it isn’t, we should all help spread the word! Last week Matt and I got to spend a day driving several hours west to deliver bulls to a friend/customer who had purchased them. Since all of us have spring birthdays and three of the four of us had just celebrated birthdays within the week, I decided it was most appropriate to take a birthday cake along!  It was an absolutely wonderful lunch with some great friends!

Can you see the candle in each serving of cake? Each of us got our very own wish!

Can you see the candle in each serving of cake? Each of us got our very own wish!

One can never share their wish at the time of blowing out the candles, because it might not come true! However – I can now share mine.🙂 I had one simple wish as I closed my eyes and blew out my candle. I wished (and prayed) for rain on our pastures and wheat fields. Well – what do ya know? It came true! Best Mother’s Day gift ever for this farm/ranch mama! We were blessed with 2.75″ of rain yesterday and it couldn’t have been more timely!  I hope the other 3 had their wishes come true, too!


These storm clouds were a welcome site!

Part of the cattle got turned out to pasture on Saturday even though the grass was still pretty short – this rain will give us some restful nights now, for at least a few weeks; knowing there will be grass for the cows to eat and water in the ponds for them to drink. Rain is so very crucial to farming and ranching – one only has to observe how much the number of cows in the U.S. has decreased the past few years due to drought. You can see it in the prices of beef in the grocery store and at restaurants. I can guarantee there are very few if any ranch families that wanted to sell their cow herds, but when there isn’t enough feed, you have to keep around only what can be properly cared for, and not permanently damage the land. It is tough emotionally and economically. When your annual source of income (or, your salary, if you will)  all gets sold at one shot – there has to be a tremendous amount of planning, pride-swallowing, and willingness to do something different for a while.  Some ranchers have received rains and are beginning to rebuild herds, but it will take years to get back to what they once had. Best wishes to everyone who has had to make the tough choices!

Hopefully this rain helps the grass to grow - a lot!

Hopefully this rain helps the grass to grow – a lot!

Before I forget – I definitely should share the recipe for the cake I took along to celebrate with! It was from one of the recent issues of Southern Living & it is SO Yummy!!!!!

Strawberries-and-Cream Sheet Cake   I just can’t say enough about how good it is! And – not always does my food turn out like the picture, but this cake did🙂

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Picture compliments of Southern Living magazine.





Eye Candy…


Oh yeah – a little eye candy always makes any less than joyous job a bit more tolerable. Sometime, even enjoyable! And for you young and young-at-heart gals reading this post – keep an open mind as opposed to a gutter mind🙂 I spent this past weekend qualifying what was within visual range for me as eye candy or, for lack of a better qualification, not eye candy. Here are my findings…

Adorable kids helping work cattle - definitely eye candy!

Adorable kids helping work cattle – definitely eye candy! (And not in a weird way – this is a family friendly blog!)

A pen full of healthy and adorable baby calve - oh yeah! Eye candy!

A pen full of healthy and adorable baby calves – oh yeah! Eye candy!

Lot's of REALLY dirty and poopy clothes to launder (and yes, this example is minor) - NOT eye candy!

Lot’s of REALLY dirty and poopy clothes to launder (and yes, this example is minor) – NOT eye candy!

The flowering crab apple trees are heavy-laden with blooms. Gorgeous eye candy!

The flowering crab apple trees are heavy-laden with blooms. Gorgeous eye candy!

And to not disappoint what I am guessing were your original expectations after seeing the title...a little traditional definition eye candy!

And to not disappoint what I am guessing were your original expectations after seeing the title…a little traditional definition eye candy!

No matter who we are, every day has its low spots and most importantly, it’s highlights. Take a moment to appreciate the little things around you each and every day! It makes even the humblest of situations something you can appreciate and keeps your soul healthy🙂

Hopefully on this 5th day into Beef Month you get to enjoy something amazing off of the grill! My recommendation for today (I just made them last week) is this amazingly easy recipe for beef short ribs. They are so tender and delicious! You must try them!


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