country life, family, photography, Uncategorized

Chickens are the New Chihuahuas

Emily and Chicken-5

This week in micro-fashion…

Looking for the latest in back-to-school accessories for your preschooler? Might I suggest a pocket chicken! Boas are out, bantys are in! Pink, turquoise, t-shirts, leggings, they really do go with any outfit…

Meet Erica the Bantam rooster.  Erica-the-girl named Erica-the-rooster before anyone knew he was a she (the rooster, not the girl). The rooster belongs to Wyokiddo’s papa.  The erstwhile clucker-turned-crower quickly fell under the spell of the curly-haired dynamo.  Wyokiddo would pick up Erica and pack him around under her arm while she helped her papa do chores.  If she put him down, it wasn’t long before he was back at her feet, lobbying for loves and meal worms.

My daughter, the chicken-whisperer.



country life, nature, Uncategorized, writing

The Science Behind the Stink

SkunkWhat do you call a skunk that flies?
A smell-i-copter!

I’m a science nerd.  So after our little white dog (I say little, she’s actually 60 pounds, ha!) tangled with a skunk and lost, I became interested in the chemistry behind skunk spray and the miracle deskunking mixture in which we bathed the smelly culprit.

Did you know a skunk’s spray contains the same compounds found in garlic and onions and even your own hair?  They are called thiols.  And the reason they are so stinky is that they are one hydrodgen atom attached to one sulfur atom.  Sulfur is notably stinky.  Think rotten eggs kind of stinky.

To make matters worse, the spray is oily, not just watery.  So it “sticks” to everything, namely one white lab mix that answers to the name “Roxy.”  When I touched my dog where she’d been sprayed, the oily liquid stuck to me and my hands.  It doesn’t simply wash off like other smells.  It’s like when you get garlic or onion on your hands when cooking – the smell just won’t come off.  That’s those pesky thiols at work again.

The old wisdom of washing a skunky dog in tomato juice or even feminine hygiene products was an act of futility because these remedies did nothing to alter the chemistry of skunk spray.  Instead, it relied on olfactory fatigue to trick the bather into submission.  After smelling the skunk spray at high doses, the human nose gets tired and becomes temporarily unable to smell the smell.  So the tired nose would smell the only the tomato juice and believe the skunk odor to be gone.  But someone with a fresh nose could easily determine that was in fact, horribly, horribly false.

But in 1993, a chemist named Paul Krebaum developed the skunk odor removal recipe we used the other night.  (If I had Paul’s address, I’d send him a thank you note and a box of Krispy Kremes.)

Krebaum’s recipe is effective because it tackles the smell at the molecular level.  His recipe oxidizes the thiols into sulfonic acids, which are odorless.  So instead of covering up the smell or washing the smell away, the recipe literally neutralizes the odor into something much more benign.  Genius!

Different skunks actually have different chemical make ups to their spray.  So a spotted skunk will have a slightly different spray than a striped skunk.  And skunk spray is highly flammable.  So never, ever, leave your Bic out where a skunk can get it.

As smelly as the Roxy dog was, it could have been much worse.  Scientists say that over the course of human evolutionary development, our noses have been shrinking.  There was a time when the nose made up 45% of the total mass of our heads.  Think about that the next time you catch a whiff of something particularly odoriferous.

So there you have it.  A joke, a science lesson and a paleoanthropology lesson all wrapped up in one  Friday morning post.

You’re welcome. 🙂


country life, Uncategorized, Wyoming

Stinky Dog Shaming


I should go for a walk, I said.  It will be great, I said.  I’ll let the dogs come and stretch their legs, I said.

And then the white dog found a skunk.

It’s my fault.  I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security out here on the open plains of Southeastern Wyoming and the lack of charismatic mega fauna.  In our previous domiciles, I had moose and bears to worry about.  None of those here, so I let my guard down and went for a walk at dusk.  Bad idea.  A really, stinky, bad idea.

Instead of spending a leisurely evening on the couch with my betrothed, the evening for Outdoor Guy and I consisted of a a trip to town for peroxide and bathing said dog by headlamp.

Damn dog.  It’s a good things she’s cute.

By the way, if you ever need to deskunk your own dog, skip the tomato juice and try this.  It’s Outdoor Guy’s tried and true mix and served him well during his hunting-with-a-hound days.

1 quart hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 tsp liquid dish soap

Mix the ingredients in a container without a lid and wash the dog with the mix.  Rinse the dog thoroughly, the wash the dog again with standard dog shampoo.  It really did work wonders on the stinky dog.  Be careful as the mix can bleach your clothes or even your dogs hair.

Damn dog.


country life, FFA, Uncategorized, writing


FFA Award

On Friday night, I was surprised by the Wyoming FFA Association with an award at the Wyoming State Fair.  As I stood accepting Steamboard Award from the state officers, I had two thoughts running through my head.

First, don’t they just give these awards to old people?  And second, I certainly don’t deserve this.

I won’t entertain comments on the former, but as to the latter, it is hard to believe I deserve an award just for doing something that I love.  I’ve been working and volunteering for the Wyoming FFA for almost twenty years.  I could wax poetic about my altruistic motives, but the truth is, I do it because it is fun.  I do it because I love the people I get to work with.  I do it because it energizes me to be surrounded by motivated high school students.  And I do it because I love what the FFA is and what it stands for.  Receiving an award for all of that is humbling and a little embarrassing.

They didn’t let me give an acceptance speech, which is probably a good thing.  But if I had, I would have been quick to thank my high school ag teacher and FFA advisor, Ty Berry.  Ty, you weren’t just a teacher and coach – you were one of my biggest supporters.  My love of the organization starts with you.  You believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself much.  You stood by me through a lot of self-induced girl drama, helped me find a college major and kicked me in the butt when I needed it.  You and my dad have always been the yardstick I measure myself against when it comes to hard work, integrity, servant leadership and honesty.  When you congratulated me after the award was probably one of the coolest moments of my adult life!

And I would have thanked Cody Wagner and Ron Pulse, the two men that hired me all those years ago to work as a media intern for the FFA.  That part-time job kept me involved in an organization I loved dearly and gave me a start into the professional world of communications.  Both of you gave me a gift – not just a job, but a sense of purpose at at time in college where I was adrift emotionally.  Thank you for serving the dual role as friends and mentors for so many years.

I would have thanked all the state officers that shared their lives with me when I was coaching state officers.  You trusted me to coach you and listened to most of the advice I gave you.  You put your faith in me to lead them through the year.  From my very first team that used to celebrate my birthday even when it wasn’t my birthday to the team that pranked me with toilet water, to the state officers that tried to set me up with a love match and gave me their own special nicknames like Mama T and TCo…thank you.  Even the ones that tested my patience and resolve with every phone call or encounter (you know who you are!).  You all became my kids and all hold a special place in my heart.  I am blessed to have had you in my life, and I am honored now to count many among you as friends.

And I would have thanked Stacy Broda, my long-time friend turned boss.  Stacy brought me back under the fold of the Wyoming FFA most recently as their PR coordinator and convention manager.  You have given me a creative and social outlet and the opportunity to work with a new generation of state officers.  You have also cultivated a new and different spirit in the Wyoming FFA, one of teamwork and support and a sense of family.  It is that spirit that fuels me and the folks I bring on to help run convention.  It is what keeps us going during the rough patches and keeps some of us working long past the days when we said we’d turn our jobs over to someone else.

I would have thanked my convention management team for making me look good when April rolls around.  I get a lot of the credit, but it is really you that makes convention happen.  Burt, Oaklee and Emily, along with the whole crew of interns, you make this job easier.  And you make it a heck of a lot of fun.

And finally, I would have thanked my husband for being my partner and supporting me in my current roles with the Wyoming FFA.  Outdoor Guy, I know you didn’t grow up doing the FFA thing.  I know the organization and my love of it is a bit of a mystery to you.  But you recognize how important it is to me.  You understand my need to have some outlet for those professional skills I cultivated for more than a decade before choosing to stay home with our daughter.  And you gamely tag along to events and happenings to be my oh so very handsome arm candy.  I can’t believe the lengths you went to conspiring with Stacy for weeks to get me to the reception.  It would have been a wonderful moment regardless, but it certainly meant a great deal more knowing that you were there to share it with me.

I am thankful for the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve been given through this fine organization.  I am humbled by this wonderful recognition.  I am blessed.


nature, photography, Uncategorized, Wyoming

Date Night

Hawk Springs Sunset FinalOutdoor Guy and I took advantage of some alone time with an evening fishing date.  The fish weren’t biting, but we got a beautiful sunset instead.  The sky and water was awash in subtle pinks and blues and night hawks squawked in the background as we walked in companionable silence back to the pickup.  Life is good.


family, Uncategorized, writing

Fearless: Life Lessons from a 4-Year Old

Today was the last trip Wyokiddo and I will make to the city pool for the summer.  It’s closing this weekend and we have a full schedule the next few days.  We made the most of our time, including Wyokiddo’s first trip off the diving board.

This summer, with very little help from me, she learned to actually swim, float and dive to the bottom of the pool to retrieve an object.  Her big cousin just taught her how to do a flip underwater and she was even on the cusp of handstands.  She is positively fearless.

I can swim but I’m not truly comfortable in the water.  So I am in absolute awe of her in the pool.  As I swam to the middle of the deep end to catch her coming off the board, her confidence took my break away.  Without a moment’s hesitation, she climbed the ladder, marched out the end of the plank, gave one little wiggle of her butt and leaped into the water with the biggest smile on her face.  No second guessing, no worrying.  She just closed her eyes and jumped.

And to think I could have missed it.

There are times I get self-conscious, lumbering around in my bathing suit.  I feel a bit like a moose clambering to get out of a mud bog.  I could have let my own fear and body image get in the way of enjoying a summer at the pool with my kid.  Do I look good in a swimsuit?  Well, no.  I’m carrying 3o extra pounds.  I have dimples on my ass and my bangs are thinning.  And thanks to breastfeeding, my chest isn’t what it used to be.  But I get in the pool anyway.

Because here’s the thing…my daughter doesn’t care.  She doesn’t see those imperfections.  She just sees her mama in the pool, ready to catch her as she leaps off the diving board for the first time.  She will remember having fun in the water and laughing when she soaks me, not my cellulite or my flabby arms.

This summer, we ran into friends of Wyokiddos at the pool, but only one was with his mom.  Wyokiddo asked me why her friends’ moms didn’t come to the pool, why some only came with a babysitter.  I explained that some moms had to work, that some moms couldn’t swim, and that some moms didn’t like to get in the pool.

Today, as we were walking to our car to go home, she squeezed my hand and said “Thanks for being a mom that gets in the pool.”

I know there will be moments in the future when I don’t feel good about my body.  I’ll compare it to someone else and feel ashamed that I don’t look like I did when I was 16.  I just hope when those moments hit me, I can remember my fearless four-year old and channel her enthusiasm and confidence.  Because I never want to be anything less than the mom that gets in the pool.



insects, nature, photography, Uncategorized

Mantis Mayhem

Praying Mantis Final-3 CRThis is my contribution to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Fun!

I’m no entomologist, but I am developing a certain affinity for bugs.  Especially bugs that eat other bugs, like this mantis.  Outdoor Guy found him in our yard this morning, so Wyokiddo and I took a break from a morning of puzzles and coloring to head outside for an inspection.

Most people call this a praying mantis, but I’ve been told that is a general description, not an actual species.  This is probably a Carolina mantis, and a juvenile at that.  I’d never seen a white mantis, so I did some research.  Mantises molt up to 10 times as they grow into an adult, and after they molt, are white for a time.  This poor guy just finished molting and then was accosted by a 4-year old with a stick and housewife with a camera.

Probably not his best day, but an awesome find for me and my daughter.  We spent part of our morning watching him climb sticks, groom himself and even assume a fighting stance with provoked.  Sometimes, you gotta leave your breakfast on the table and go have some fun with a bug!


nature, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife

At Rest

Humming Bird CRI miss the hummingbirds.  At our home in western Wyoming, we would have 7 to 30 hummingbirds visiting our feeders on any given day.  They would buzz our heads as we played in Wyokiddo’s  sandbox and jockey for position at the feeder or for the best hiding spot in our trees and hedges.

Outside the hippo venue at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a small garden designed with these tiny birds in mind.  There are feeders and flowers designed to attract the hummingbirds, and on the day we visited a half-dozen or more zipped around.  I didn’t want to wait out or fight the handful of folks trying to photograph the birds.  But I did manage to catch this one taking a break in the shade.  The monochromatic thing I’ve got going on was completely unintentional, but if you can’t be good, be lucky!