Tag Archives: Eastern Oregon

30,000 Miles and Counting

It’s been a whirlwind year to say the least! 

When I left Kansas City, I had done only 11,000 miles on my car in a year and a half, which still basically breaks my heart. My gypsy soul had been crushed. That has been solved, and Paula is much happier not sitting at The Ethans. I think on last count, I am over 30,000 driving miles and a few cross country flights have energized my gypsy ways.

The first tourist stop...

The first tourist stop…

Firstly, moving to rural America is difficult, especially in a town consumed by an older population and a small community college. Clint and Darcy so kindly took me in for what we all thought would be a month long stay. One month turned into seven, and I can’t thank them enough for all of their amazing hospitality. Late nights, random weekend trips and a never ending house project lead me to probably earning worst roommate award… If you ever get the chance to be greeted by Darcy laughing first thing in the morning followed by recorded Superior sale commentated by Clint, your day will be made!

My first week at work included Round-Up, which might as well been my own welcoming party. Only kidding, but it was a great excuse to see friends I hadn’t been able to connect in a while. Even the endless cups of Coors Light couldn’t drowned out the fact that that living in Pendleton was still going to be a struggle. So decided to buy a house, which has been a never ending adventure. Lesson #89,836 don’t by a house…ever. Just kidding, just make sure the seller is not a pot smoking, indoor cat owner. Or just install a kegerator, it’s cheaper than bottles, and you’ll need some of the finest brews to make it through a major renovation. Actually, skip the beer and hit the whisky.

Here is it, make an offer, I might part with it. Hugh just may not left me after all the work we have done.

Here is it, make an offer, I might part with it. Hugh just may not left me after all the work we have done.

One of the greatest things about being back in the PNW, is leaving the PNW. No offense, but in Oregon specifically, the speed limits suck, you can’t pump your own gas, and goodness all I want is some fresh green chillies and live music. I have enjoyed doing some cross country travels for the National Hereford Women, helping the Colyer family and see some of the best friends a girl could have. 

The Cowboy Rides Away Tour -- Tacoma.

The Cowboy Rides Away Tour — Tacoma.

The one and only Miles McKee.

"Who is that girl wearing pearls at the derby?"

“Who is that girl wearing pearls at the derby?”

If you know my story, you’ll know how fortunate I have been to draw a family that has given me a passion for good cattle. I haven’t been to the ranch or even my mom’s place as much as I’d like, but it’s comforting knowing I can have supper any night of the week with any member of my crazy extended family. I just might have to drive a 100 plus miles.

Christmas afternoon with the ladies.

Christmas afternoon with the ladies.

My favorite place in the world, somewhere down Chandler Lane.

My favorite place in the world, somewhere down Chandler Lane.

I thought settling into Umatilla county would be no big deal, but let me laugh and realign my mindset. It’s been a bigger deal. The state line might as well follow state highway 11, because growing up a county over seems like a foreign country to most. I have learned to introduce myself more ways than I ever have living in various place throughout the country.

Hi, I am Maddee, I am from Cove…oh you don’t know where that is? It’s about 65 miles from here…known for cherries, Moss Springs trail head and Red’s Horse Ranch?
I just moved to town, pardon me, my name is Maddee. Did you go to Blue Mountain Community College? No, nope sure didn’t, I did my juco time at Linn Benton Community College…Ohhhhhh….
You go to Idaho on the weekends? Yes, it’s closer than Portland. You know people over there? Yes, I grew up showing with a lot of people from there…ohhhhh wow…who are you again….

It is also suprising to most that I had never attended a Round-Up prior to moving to town. Crazy, I know, but the world does keep spinning even. But if you dont have plans the second weekend in September,you better make plans to be in town, it is real fun!

We have hit almost every rodeo -- it's a tough job but someone has to be my date for work events.

We have hit almost every rodeo — it’s a tough job but someone has to be my date for work events.

Mom comes too...

Mom comes too…

The saga I left KC with is still continuing. My insurance company is battling the Kansas City Police Department. So hopefully by the first of September 2015 I have a clean record again… And remember kids, don’t get hit by a KC Police Officer on his way to a domestic dispute with 10 other officers. In the meantime, Paula is racking up the miles and we have been busy learning about “how great state of Idaho” is from probably the proudest member of the state and beyond.

It’s been crazy, I miss my KC pals, but it is sure good to be home for the time being! And if you ever get a wild hair, let me know your travels lead to Pendleton!

Correction: And as Tiah said I have been blessed with several news friends! 


Wordless Wednesday: Catch the Sun

Smokey sunrise coming up over the Blue Mountains highlighting the wheat stubble of the 2014 harvest.

Smokey sunrise coming up over the Blue Mountains highlighting the wheat stubble of the 2014 harvest.

Peering on to the bounty of Umatilla county, the peaks of the Cascade range can be seen.

Peering on to the bounty of Umatilla county, the peaks of the Cascade range can be seen.

Western Wildfire Season

Wildfires in the west are part of the normal summer activities.

Hazy days are closed by smokey sunsets. We are taught from a young age to be cautious. Smokey Bear is a part of everyday life as much as a childhood teddy bear. Sights and sounds of US Forest Service, BLM, state and private contractors fire trucks and rigs are normal. The repercussions of these fires devastates the land, animals, lives and the families that make a living from the land.

The impacts, the stories and discussions that one could have about the impact of fire could host conversations for days. Some are positive, and others are negative. Understanding that fire impacts peoples live is one of the hardest for many to grasp. As hard as it was for people to understand why farmers and ranchers could not act quick enough in the fall of 2013 during the Storm Atlas in southwestern region of South Dakota.

A friend who is an ag teacher, ranchers wife and now fire volunteer on the Buzzard Complex had this to say about what we she was witnessing.

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The fire as of Sunday was larger in land area than Multnomah County, which is home the largest population in the state. 

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There are dozens of other large fires burning in the west. National media outlets are picking up the stories, but they are focused on the million dollar homes in a resort town, rather than the stories of those who make a living from the land.

Stay safe out there and enjoy your summer. Thank you to all of the volunteers, contractors and fire fighters working to control this rapidly moving summer of flames.

Picture from a look out point in the Grand Ronde Valley I took this weekend when we were riding. You can see the smoke socking in the valley and moving through the region.

Picture from a look out point in the Grand Ronde Valley I took this weekend when my Mom and I were riding. You can see the smoke socking in the valley and moving through the region.

Everyday is a Reason to Celebrate



 Everyday is a Reason to Celebrate American and World Agriculture.

This morning commute to work was not from the west, but from the east. Running late as usual, it didn’t matter, the hour drive in front of me could wait for a shot like this. The dramatic sky surrounding the fields of this years crops in the Grand Ronde Valley was amazing this morning. The timing if this sunrise couldn’t have come at any better of a time than today as it is National AG Day.

Remember, that we have been officially celebrating National AG Day since 1973, while every aspect of our lives involves a form of agriculture each and everyday. From the toothpaste that you brush your teeth with every morning to the pillow you lay your head on all are made possible from hardworking, dedicated, responsible farmers and ranchers.



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Wordless Wednesday — American Agriculture

Celebrate America’s independence with all of those involved in American Agriculture. We all have the freedom to choose what we eat and to utilize production practices that are the best for our farms, ranches, animals, crops, families and businesses!

It’s a great country we live in!


Thanks Kim for letting me use your amazing photo!

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A Gorgeous Spring Day at the Ranch

The heifers that watched over my blog for two years may have retired, but my love for white faced cattle as not gone to the wayside.

The spring after I graduated in 2010, I was fortunate enough to spend a little over a month in eastern Oregon. That was the longest stint I had spent in almost four years. Presently, it still stands as the longest time frame I have spent in the Northwest since I left for college. And the rare opportunity to go home and bask in the non-humid, mountain air and spend time with some amazing people, is pretty exciting.

Like so many people, I love spring time in eastern Oregon. New life is all around, from the one week a year that the sagebrush is green to the baby lambs nestling in the wool of their mammas, it is a great time of year. Thankfully, I got to run home for a week in April to see some of my favorite people, throw a hugely successful surprise party for my Mom and hang for a short time at the ranch.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the stunning Baker Valley.

Grandpa Charles.

Grandpa Charles.

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C Chandler son.

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C Chandler son. He thinks he is pretty sexy.

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Moving fall cows down Chandler Lane.

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Purple Currency heifer calf.

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The legacy of the horn brand.

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It’s National FFA Week–I am EXCITED

It’s National FFA week!

I cant express my love and dedication to this enormous youth education program.  Get involved, and take something from it. Agriculture education is not what is used to be, the umbrella of the National FFA Organization stretches far wider than I can explain in this blog.

My experience in FFA was pretty unique, but whose isn’t.

Due to an unfortunate circumstance, my small rural high school had gained a new Principle. My Mom had informed me that Mr. Koehn used to be agriculture educator, with that I wanted to find out what we could do in the ways of livestock judging through FFA. Either way, I had no idea what that one thought would lead into.

Side note: I was just ok at judging livestock in high school it turns out my sister and well my other sister who isn’t really my sister and the girl who had no idea what a heifer was, and Miss Mariah pretty much rocked livestock judging in the state of Oregon for a few years. I am not about living in the past, but it was big moment in those girls lives. 

We started down the road to establish an FFA chapter my Senior year of high school. We had no classroom; therefore we shared the high school library, thanks Ms. Talley for letting create chaos in there. Mr. Koehn, or how I better know him as Toby, was not getting paid to instruct us, but was taking on extra duties so we could dream a little. He was still the full time Principle and part time Ag teacher.

I will honestly say that we spent a lot of that first year encouraging kids to join this program, preparing for contests and traveling to contests. It wasn’t anything like the program is today. We had a hugely successful first year, and we enjoyed every minute of the controlled chaos we were living in.

First Eastern Oregon Livestock Show, banners and the Governor of Oregon

Now Cove, Oregon is a pretty special place. This small school is one of the only 1A schools in the state to still had a band, art, and shop programs in 2006. We were a small school that options for kids no matter their interest, now they may not be as extensive as other schools, but most schools the size of Cove had lost all of those programs and were dependent on sports and student councils to keep kids involved. I am very proud to say those programs are still growing!

I have been able to go back and spend time with the next generation of students that are going through this program, and it’s EXCITING. Toby is now the full time Ag teacher, we have a school farm that has chickens and crops year round. Toby has activated the interest from the teachers throughout the school to become involved in process of agricultural production. The elementary students are involved in gathering eggs and vegetables each day. High school Ag students also have the opportunity to look over the younger students during this process. Also, the fresh vegetables are served in the school cafeteria. How many schools in the country can you say that happens in!

Toby had enough of my sister...I really do love him!

A La Grande Observer article that discusses the new greenhouse that is going up on the school farm, this is a student led project. Learning leadership, communication, management, team work, and dedication skills, you bet! I just get all excited thinking about the doors this program has opened for 540,379 students across this country!

I am so thankful for everyone who has contributed to this program in some way shape or form. I am also thankful for a great Ag teacher who let us dream, and has continued to be one of my best friends and a man who pushes me to think outside the box.

So go celebrate National FFA Week, be proud to be a part of agriculture. And if you aren’t involved in agriculture, this organization may be away for you to learn a little about production agriculture, but its not just about sows, cows, and plows any more!

I was lucky enough to go to National FFA Convention my Senior year thanks to the La Grande FFA Chapter inviting me to join them! I was being the milk model at an ice cream plant.