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March 14, 2017

Outside the wind is gusting at high speeds, pushing the branches of the trees eastward. The tallest trees in the windbreak are elms, and their bodies are all curved a little east anyway, from growing up with that wind I suppose. I am sitting in the sunlit alcove upstai...

September 1, 2016

15 years ago I lived in a shoebox apartment in New York City’s Lower East Side. It was a neighborhood transitioning from not-so-nice to VERY nice. Everyday as I walked from my apartment to the little preschool where I taught, I would pass new stores and restaurants pre...

June 27, 2016

It's official. I am in the fiber fleece business for real starting today. In a few short hours, a small flock of shetland sheep will arrive, including a ram named Bing. These new sheep, plus the two shetlands I already have, and their four babies, will mean a flock tha...

April 21, 2016

photo by Tony Nelson

July 25th, Somewhere in South Dakota

Sitting on a hillside in the tall grass. The wind is blowing hard and smells sweet, but the sun is so hot I feel like I am being baked like a loaf of bread. The crickets are loud. One jumps on my hand and startles...

April 1, 2016


A wise man once told his daughter, "If you have, you'll lose." Years later she passed the advice on to me when, heartbroken, I called to tell her one of the bum lambs she'd given me had died. It's a stark statement, and at first sounds so pessimistic, but there is som...

February 3, 2016


It's lambing time again!!! That means lots of visits to the little pasture to check on the girls...Here are a few photos from last year. In my column this week I wrote about the wacky circumstances (and my own indecision) leading to babies being born pretty much all w...

January 27, 2016



The Bean and I are rumbling down the road, the tires jumping at each jutting chunk of loose gravel and deep rut. To our east, a knot of black cows stands munching a swath of hay laid out on the snow. To the west there is nothing but grass, and ahead, to the south, is...

January 20, 2016


This past week I got a little break from my main job as Mama to reclaim my position as lead chicken wrangler here at the ranch. It's been almost four years since I got my first chicks and a lot has changed -- mainly the size of our operation. The chickens now have a s...

December 16, 2015


The weatherman predicts a storm, and the sky concurs with his prediction. For two days it has been misting, so the trees, the barbed wire fences, each blade of grass, are frosted thick. The animals are waiting, like a breath held. Even I am waiting, walking through th...

December 3, 2015


In the half darkness of the bedroom, the Bean watches his hand in amazement. He twirls his chubby fingers in front of his eyes and makes a soft sound of surprise at the way the shadows catch the corners of his skin. The wintry dawn light shifts through the muslin curt...

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My “Little Pasture on the Prairie” started out as a borrowed slip of land and is now it is a full-fledged pasture with a windbreak of elms and fruit trees, a sturdy woven wire fence, and an odd assortment of orphans and vagabonds, most of them wearing wooly suits. There are also cats and chickens running in and out as they please, a milk cow, and two small humans I am lucky to have call me 'Mama.' These are the stories of our adventures -- and misadventures -- in the little pasture, and the joy of waking up every day to the quiet majesty of life on the northern plains.


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