Happy Spring!

It’s almost April already – wow.  The giant pile of snow in the front yard is almost gone.  A month or two back you couldn’t see our street from the house.  We are grateful for the much needed rain and snow though.  The lake level is slowly rising back up and our state is getting some relief from the drought. Thank you God!

We’ve been busy with work and the usual adventures. Bike rides, time with family – and yes the four-letter “W” word, work.  We said goodbye to another of our pets.  Big Kitty (BK) passed on at the ripe old age of 18.  I rescued her when she was 8 from the pound.  She’d been a good girl, tolerating the various dogs that have romped through the halls of our home.  She’s resting peacefully in the yard with Apollo.  Raz and Sochi are left to entertain one another now – Sochi makes sure that Raz stays in the house where he belongs. He’s thrilled.  Not!

In February we packed up four bikes, two humans (meaning us) and Sochi and drove to Panhandle, Texas (Robin’s hometown) for a gravel grinder bike race with a short stop in Gallup, NM for a bike ride too.

The interesting thing about Panhandle is the weather.  We arrived to record heat and then two days later, snow.  Of course the day of the bike race is the day the weather turned.  [Insert sad face here]

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I have to say the race was a lot of fun though!  Thank you Garmin for not getting me lost out in a pasture somewhere (that happened the next month in Malibu).  What is seemingly flat and uneventful is actually anything but.  We rode past farmland into rolling ranch country.  I saw beautiful heifers, antelope and even an bald eagle.  It’s a much different way of life there from how I was raised growing up in the suburbia of Torrance.

Beyond the beautiful rolling countryside are the beautiful people that live and work there.  I could go on about the agricultural community and how hard they work to provide food for their families, and the rest of us. How they spend countless hours tending to fields and livestock.  They do that.  But what you don’t see right away is their commitment to community and to their fellow man.

Recently wildfires ripped through Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma.  Nearly half a million acres in the Texas panhandle region alone.  Four young lives were lost.  Tragic, life-changing losses of humans, livestock and property.  The only reason I knew about any of it was because of social media and namely from the posts of Robin’s family.  No national news, no Facebook change your profile picture to Pray for Panhandle. Very little was said as those fires raged on for days.  Why?  Because they weren’t rioting and picketing and tearing up their towns?  Because they weren’t out screaming about who’s fault this was?  Nothing to see here, move along now.  No because, they were too busy fighting a wild land fire. Too busy tending to cattle and other livestock that had been burned alive or close to it.  Too busy taking care of weary firefighters and neighbors.  Too busy looking after their fellow man.  Too busy being a community.

Robin’s father, Billy, posted story after story of fellow ranchers donating their time and resources from miles away to help those affected by the fires – hay, supplies plus the trucks and fuel to get it their.  One rancher donated $30,000 worth of hay.  So many reached out and did what they could to support their fellow man.  And yet the news media missed it.  They missed reporting on how good people are, how selfless they can be and how communities do come together in times of sorrow to lift each other up.

Why isn’t that an exciting news story?  I won’t get on my soapbox here about the news media other than to say that they have a responsibility in their journalistic endeavors, one which I feel they take for granted.  This to me makes a newsworthy story. It’s what we need right now more than ever.  We need to come together and be a community.  I believe that we’re capable of it – I know we are in fact.  We did it in the days following September 11th. We came together as a country. We held each other as we cried. We lifted each other up.   The news media was human and respectful.  People were human and respectful.  I just hope it doesn’t take another catastrophic event for us to wake up again.

Blessings to you this Spring.  Get outside and enjoy the fresh air.  Hug your neighbor.  And your neighbor’s dog!

PS:  The Texas Farm Bureau has a page set up for donations to help offset the costs for those who were affected by this devastating fire.  These folks have not asked for help or for government assistance but I’m sure they would be grateful for the support.  Click here for information on how to make a tax-deductible donation:  http://texasfarmbureau.org/panhandle-wildfire-relief-fund/

From the Amarillo Globe News:

Most livestock and all fences lost in last week’s three wildfires were uninsured, leaving ranchers out millions of dollars.

Unlike insurance costs for equipment and homes, livestock costs are typically too high to be practical, said Randy Kennedy, an agent for Texas Farm Bureau Insurance — Panhandle. Feedyard transporters may insure the animals they ship, but grazing ruminants are typically uncovered.

A typical cow-calf pair will cost around $1,300 to replace, Amosson said. More than 5,000 cattle were displaced in the fires, although no estimate exists on how many have perished

AgriLife economist Steve Amosson estimated a four- to six-wire fence with steel posts costs $10,000 per mile, meaning the fires have accounted for million of dollars in fencing costs.

Fences are also not covered under Texas Farm Bureau Insurance’s farm and ranch policy, Kennedy said.

Hundreds of miles of Texas Panhandle fencing burned up during the fires, Texas A&M AgriLife communications specialist Kay Ledbetter said.

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