Jean Schwieder


I got up this morning at 5:45 and just sat in the recliner in my living room, enjoying the peace and quiet of the farm. The birds start singing early, and that is such a beautiful and upbeat sound to start the day with. We did have a couple of cows bellering through the night and a dog barking off and on, but our home is far enough off the road so we aren’t subjected to the noise of motor traffic. And, after all, animal sounds are part of the farm.

By the time the grass starts to green up here in the valley, the cows and calves push through the fences to get all the green grass they can. We have even had some of the older cows get out on the road and start the trek to the ranch on their own. They have to be watched!

These past weeks we’ve possibly seen the last loads of cow and calves transported to the ranch and summer pasture, although we might have five or six pairs that will go up later into a neighbor’s pasture that we rent from him. We always keep some of the late calvers here to keep the grass down in our pastures around our valley home, and there will be plenty of grass for them. So that means the end of the 4 o’clock feeding around here. No more using the tractors to move hay and straw out to feed them. Just have to check the fences daily, which can be done riding on the Gater.

I actually feel sorry for the cows and calves that don’t get to go to the ranch. There is so much more room up there and groves of trees they can move into when it gets so hot. Besides that, the roads are not traveled as heavily and there isn’t the noise of those pickups with loud exhausts. It is actually a peaceful pleasant place to be. At least for me and I can’t help but think the cows sense that also. Yes, there is an occasional killing by a wolf, and the coyotes howl loud at night. But you can hear the birds singing all day long, and the breezes through the grass and trees makes a pleasant lullaby.

It is always good to get the cows to the summer pasture, but we do have the concern this year of drought and the springs drying up. The waterers will have to be monitored closely.

I love riding around our pastures at the ranch. The cows spread out and seem so contented up there. They always seem anxious to get up there. The fences at the ranch have to be ridden around often. If there is the possibility of a weak link in the fence the cows seem to detect it and before long they have pushed through into areas we don’t want them. The smaller calves can go through the fences easily but will always go back when they want to nurse their moms

The first summer I spent at the ranch, I was pregnant with our oldest son, Doug. I often felt lonesome and bored that summer, and struggled to find things to do as the men would be out in the fields all day except when it was time to eat. I have since learned to appreciate the quiet, the peace, and have found ways to combat the boredom so that I would actually rather be up there during the summer than at our valley home.

We still have neighbors up there, about a mile away, and we wave as they drive by on their way to their place. Sometimes we have people stop to ask where they are and we give directions to where they want to go. But mostly, life is slow and easy.

As we get older we appreciate peace, quiet, and a slower pace. That doesn’t mean that we don’t keep busy. Boyd, my husband, at 83 moves pipe on our valley farm every morning before we can head to the upper ranch. There is still yard and garden work, laundry to do, house to clean, meals to fix and dishes to wash. But it seems we have eliminated many things that are more stressful, and are getting more comfortable saying “no” plus very content to sit back and appreciate where we are in our lives.

Reach Jean Schwieder at 208-522-8098 or

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