Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Kurtz Ranch cowboys and cowgirls are headed out this morning for the Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Two of our geldings will be a part of this great event which includes offerings from some of the best Western horse producers in the nation. Be sure to check out lots #15 and #41. For more information, go to:

Springtime at the Kurtz Ranch

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


One June evening on fair grassy lawn
The litter’s last puppy was scooped
In and out of small then knotted hands
Held and cuddled like a newborn.

Kind, eager eyes invite and open wide
For smile, prosody, and caress
Black ears, brown nose and paws
This newborn, a silver-tipped black teddy bear.

Claimed for the ranch, Pete’s sidekick
At sunrise awaits at kitchen door
Then spins to sprint over meadow grass
He, Hercules and protector at dawn

Restless for work, moving cattle
Shepherding Pete to shop and corral
Awaits the sound of four wheels, settles into
Shotgun seat and herds horses to evening pasture
Rolls and rubs silver tipped coat in crystalline meadows
Finding true home in winter snows
Teddy bear dancing with nature’s crisp, biting air
One with the other, nature’s spirits in delight

Sweet and joyful this teddy bear
Worker and protector this Hercules
First-hand man and sidekick this eager dog
Loyal and soulful this natural spirit, Griz

Monday, April 16, 2012

In the Garden: White Space

After clearing debris and uprooting errant wild grasses in the garden beds, I smoothed a layer of fine mulch between the perennials. As I did, the spaces I created reminded me of the artistic concept of white space. At that moment I didn’t have to understand it completely to know it was powerful. The invitation to relax and take a deep breath felt so natural. It was as though the space were whispering, "Take it easy. All is well with the world."

Reading about the use of white space in art and design, I found a partial description of my experience in that the space allows the eyes to rest and the body to relax. I realized my clear view of the Oriental poppy was a result of the presence of that nothingness: for it provided a place of rest for the object to be appreciated for what it is. Without the white space, I would lay my eyes on a whole garden of wild grasses, weeds, and mixed perennials standing one on top of the other without any demarcation. I would know only a canvas amassed in variations on a theme in green.

Reflecting on the act of creating a momentary retreat of out of nothing, I wondered, “Can I create other momentary retreats? In the litany of my to-do list? In my office? In my thoughts and in my conversations?”

I believe I can and perhaps it’s important that I do. Each time I stop to breathe or to think, I am creating white space in my daily life. When I clear the counter or re-do the overstuffed file, I create the space or room to see clearly what I have in my possession. When I make the effort to listen to others, their thoughts come more clearly into view: I become a better observer, a better listener. When I remind myself in the grocery store line that I am fortunate to have a cart full, I create a pause in the hurry. In that space I find a quiet and still emotional geography in which I am the recipient of a momentary peace.

It was a lot of hard work to clear out my gardens this year. I’d let the meadow grasses have their way with my perennial beds last summer without fighting back. This year my will was greater. Through the physical labor of pulling and digging weeds and grasses, pushing back overgrown and wild perennials, like an artist, I brushed white space, a rich nothingness into the gardens and rediscovered so much. I also find it a lot of work to simply remember to take a deep breath in the middle of the rush, to finish the list or to interrupt my thoughts long enough to listen to a friend. But it’s through my conscious labor I’m able to place myself next to nothingness, at rest and fully present.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Rowdy Winds

This past weekend, the wind blew persistently across the ranch. At times the gusts were strong enough to blow the outdoor barbeque onto the wrap-around deck bench. When I readied for a walk Saturday afternoon, I said to my husband, “Sure wish it weren’t so windy. I’d like to enjoy myself when I go out.” He replied, “Awh, don’t worry about it. It’s not too bad once you’re out in it.”

With his encouragement I headed out determined to enjoy my brief outing. But once out into the open a few gusts pushed hard enough to make it difficult to walk. Determined to stay on my appointed round, I carried on hoping I’d suffer less once the road turned to the southwest and followed along the hillside.

Walking down the road I recalled hearing a number of acquaintances recently say they thought we’d had an awfully windy winter; and didn’t I think we were having more wind than usual. I hadn’t thought much about it until then, but what struck me most was how high the winds have been blowing. When the wind marches in, it’s marching with fierce orders these days.

While the rowdy winds on the ranch disturb us, there were yet rowdier winds in Texas this week. Sitting at my computer and listening to a Dallas classical music station, I heard the emergency warnings for tornadoes throughout the Dallas area. I immediately emailed my son who lives just north of Dallas to make sure he was safe. When I spoke with him he reassured me he was okay having an underground shelter available nearby. Later, listening to weather experts, I heard that so far this year there’s a fifty percent increase in tornado activity and in April of 2011 there were an overwhelming 758 tornadoes reported in the United States.

When a recent dinner guest asked me what I thought about the weather extremes we’ve been experiencing the last few years, I said, “It worries me a lot. This spring my tulips are coming up before the daffodils; a vet just told me she’s having brood mares cycling unusually early; and an old friend, who’s lived in the Valley for seventy-two years, said he’d never seen a winter as mild as the one we just had.” My guest said he, too, was quite concerned and mentioned the incredible pace of ice melting in the Arctic. He added that he’ll be replacing his dead beetle kill pines with drought resistant trees at his home near town.

In a recent article on climate change in the Scientific American, Pennsylvania State University climatologist, Michael Mann, reported that, “Changes have been taking place faster than the models projected. With respect to sea-level rise, with respect to temperature change, with respect of carbon emissions, and in just about every case, the changes have occurred either at the upper end of the projections or even above the range of the projections…Arctic sea ice might be the most profound example, where the observed decline in summer Arctic sea ice is way outside the projected range.”

When asked if he still had hope for our world, he responded by saying, “If we look to history…science and honesty win out—perhaps later than we would have liked. We acted later than we should have with tobacco. We acted later than we should have with ozone depletion and the banning of chlorofluorocarbons. We presumably suffered far greater damage and loss of life because we delayed action. But we did take action.”

If I follow Michael Mann’s lead, I wonder, do I have a more complete answer to my dinner guest’s question about our unsettling weather? I realize the world may be experiencing both natural changes in world-wide weather patterns as well as the influence of human activity on earth. Several years ago, I believed that, while our atmospheric conditions may worsen over the course of a generation, efforts here on earth would help the world right itself. Now, I’m asking myself the question, “Will it really right itself? Can we adapt successfully to these changing climate patterns and weather extremes? Or are catastrophic conditions ahead for coming generations?”

With these questions in mind, I wonder if I, as an individual, can really be of help. “What can I do to tame rowdy winds, misplaced warm temperatures, thirsty meadows, confused tulips and daffodils, horses out of sync, and polar bears looking for safe passage over a dwindling arctic ice cap?” I wonder, if I continue to recycle and work at being aware of my carbon footprint, will it be enough. I know those who survive keep their wits about them, allaying their fears by taking appropriate action. And then, just as Michael Mann suggested, with an honest acceptance of the situation, my action, as part of the whole movement to address climate change, becomes a statement of belief that it will not be too late.