Badger Hole Ranch: Blog en-us (c) Ruth Wiechmann [email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) Fri, 02 Apr 2021 18:44:00 GMT Fri, 02 Apr 2021 18:44:00 GMT Badger Hole Ranch: Blog 120 80 The Ragman, by Walter Wangerin In keeping with my father's Good Friday tradition, I share with you a story.

The Ragman, by Walter Wangerin

I saw a sight so strange and experienced something so amazing that it is hard for me to explain it. If you can give me a few minutes, I’ll do my best to describe it to you.

Before dawn one Friday morning I noticed a young man, handsome and strong, walking through the back alleys of the city. He was pulling an old cart filled with clothes both bright and new. As he pulled the cart he was calling out in a clear, powerful voice: “Rags! Rags! New rags for old! I take your tired rags!”

The air was foul in these dark side streets, tainted by the filth and trash that living unleashes on the world. And yet as the man called out, the air became tinged with the faint scent of cleanliness, as though the breeze that carried the sweet music of his voice also carried with it the hope and promise of a cleansing rain and a purifying wind.

“Rags! New rags for old! I take your tired rags! Rags!” The man continued to move through the dim light of early morning, his strong voice echoing from building to building and street to street.

“Now, this is a curious thing,” I thought to myself, for the man stood six- feet-four and his arms were like tree limbs, hard and muscular. His eyes flashed with intelligence. What was he doing here, in a city that had no need for such a useless profession. Who recycled rags anymore? Could he find no better job than this, to be a ragman in the heart of a city? Driven by my curiosity, I followed him. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Soon the Ragman saw a woman sitting on the porch of a small house. She was crying into a handkerchief, wracked with sobs as she shed a thousand tears. Her body language said it all as she seemed folded in on herself, shoulders down, back slumped forward, knees and elbows making a sad X. She had no hope. Her heart was breaking. Her body may have been alive, but her soul wanted to die.

The Ragman stopped his cart. Quietly he walked over to the woman, stepping round empty beer cans and old newspapers, dead toys and broken furniture. “Give me your rag,” he said gently as he knelt beside her, “and I’ll give you another.” The woman looked up into his powerful, compassionate eyes and saw something there that paused her tears. The Ragman slipped the handkerchief from her hand and used it one last time to dry away the flow of tears from her face. Never taking his eyes from hers, he laid across her palm a linen cloth so clean and new that it shined. She looked down at the new cloth and then back again to the eyes of man who had given it to her. The Ragman slowly leaned forward and kissed the woman’s forehead and then turned and walked back to his cart.

As he began to pull his cart again, the Ragman did a strange thing: he put her old, used stained handkerchief to his own face…and then he began to weep. He sobbed as grievously as she had done, his shoulders shaking as the tears flowed down his face in a torrent of grief.

But looking back to the woman on the porch I could see that she was left without a tear. She sat with her shoulders high and a look of wonder on her face.

“This is amazing,” I thought to myself, and I followed the sobbing Ragman. Like a curious child who cannot turn away from a mystery, I watched the Ragman from a distance.

“Rags! Rags! New rags for old!” rang forth his voice. Though it was still strong, it also shook with emotion as he wept. “Rags! I take your old rags! Rags!”

In a little while, the sky showed gray behind the rooftops. It was light enough to make out the shredded curtains and damaged blinds that hung in dark windows. The Ragman came upon a girl sitting curbside whose head was wrapped in a bandage, eyes as vacant as the windows around her. Blood soaked her bandage and a single line of blood ran down her cheek.

The Ragman paused and turned his weeping eyes upon this empty, injured child. Reaching into his cart, he withdrew from it a beautiful yellow hat and walked towards the girl. “Give me your rag,” he said softly, “and I’ll give you mine.” The child did not move and could only gaze at him vacantly while he loosened the bandage, removed it from her head, and tied it to his own instead. I gasped at what I saw: with the bandage went the wound. The girl’s head was left unblemished, while the Ragman’s head began to bleed. He set the hat on the girl’s head and suddenly her eyes took on an understanding and intelligence that had been missing before. She placed her hand to the side of her head where the bandage had covered the wound that was no longer there. Smiling in wonder, she watched as the Ragman rose unsteadily to his feet and moved back to his cart.

“Rag! Rags! I take old rags!” cried out the sobbing, bleeding Ragman. “New rags for old! Rags!” With his powerful arms pulling the cart, he continued on his way. He seemed to be moving faster now with an urgency I hadn’t noticed before.

He stopped again in front of a man who was leaning against a telephone pole. “Are you going to work?” he asked. The man shook his head. The Ragman pressed him: “Do you have a job?”

The man looked him up and down, making note of the Ragman’s weeping eyes and bleeding head before replying. “Are you crazy?” he sneered as he leaned away from the poll, revealing that the right sleeve of his jacket was flat, the cuff stuffed into the pocket. He had no arm.

“Give me your jacket,” said the Ragman firmly, “and I’ll give you mine.” Such quiet authority in his voice! The one-armed man looked into the other’s eyes and then slowly took off his jacket. So did the Ragman. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief as I trembled at what I saw: the Ragman’s arm stayed in its sleeve, and when the other put on the Ragman’s jacket he had two good arms, strong as tree limbs. The Ragman was left with one. “Go to work,” he said as he moved back to his cart.

Struggling to make due with his one arm, the Ragman began to pull his cart again, this time much faster and with greater urgency. He came upon an unconscious old drunk lying beneath an army blanket, hunched, wizened and sick. He took that blanket and wrapped it round himself, but for the drunk he left new clothes.

And now I had to run to keep up with the Ragman. He was weeping uncontrollably, and bleeding freely from the forehead. He struggled to pull his cart with one arm while stumbling from drunkenness, falling again and again, exhausted, old, and sick. Yet he moved with terrible speed nearly sprinting through the alleys of the city covering block after block and mile upon mile.

I wept to see the changes in this man. I hurt to see his sorrow and ached each time I saw him stumble and fall. When he began to move through the industrial area of the city, away from the houses and apartments, I wanted to stop following and turn away from my grief, to leave it behind and go back to my life. But I could not. I needed to see this sad, amazing story to its end. Who was this Ragman? Why had he done what nobody else would have done? Where he was going in such a hurry? How would it end?

The once strong Ragman was now old and frail, weeping and bleeding, staggering and falling, his body wracked with pain, sorrow and disease. I watched as he came to an old abandoned lot that was filled with piles of trash, old furniture, and the rusted out shells of cars and construction equipment. He moved among the garbage pits and piles of human refuse and finally climbed to the top of a small hill made from the trash of a thousand lives. He struggled to pull his cart and its sad, pathetic burden. With tormented labor he cleared a little space on that hill.

With a deep sigh, he slowly made a bed from the contents of his cart and lay down on it. He pillowed his head on a handkerchief and a jacket. He covered his old, aching bones with an army blanket. His body shook under the load of its injuries and pain and disease. His eyes wept and the wound under his bandage continued to bleed. With one last, deep sigh, he closed his eyes and died.

Oh, how I cried to witness that death! I sat down in an old, abandoned car and wailed and mourned as one who has no hope. I wept because I had come to love the Ragman. As I had followed him, I had watched him work wonders and change lives so profoundly that it didn’t seem fair that he was gone. He had taken those things that were soiled and damaged beyond repair and had replaced them with the new and the whole. He had offered hope to the damaged and lost of the city.

But if the Ragman was gone, then my hope was gone as well. I felt such an overwhelming sense of grief and loss that I remained in the private seclusion of the rusted out car and sobbed myself to sleep. I did not know - how could I know — that I slept through Friday night and Saturday and on through Saturday night as well.

But then, on Sunday morning, I was awakened by a violence that shook me to the core of my being. Light - pure, hard, insistent light - slammed against my tear-stained face and demanded that I awake. When I was finally able to open my eyes, I blinked against the light and squinted in the direction of the pile of trash where the Ragman’s body had been. As I looked, I saw the last and the first wonder of all. The Ragman was there, yes! But he was no longer dead. He was alive! There he stood, folding the old army blanket carefully and laying it atop the neatly arranged handkerchief and jacket. Besides the scar on his forehead, there was no other evidence of what he had previously taken upon himself. There was no sign of sorrow or age, no evidence of illness or deformity. His body was whole and strong and all the rags that he had gathered shined for cleanliness.

I wept to see him again. When I thought that hope had died along with Ragman, I had abandoned any hope for my own life. And yet there he stood, healthy and whole. Climbing from my shelter I moved toward the Ragman, trembling from what I had seen and because of what I knew I needed to do. Walking to him with my head lowered, I spoke my name to him with shame. Looking up into his clear, loving, compassionate eyes I spoke with yearning in my voice, “Rags. Please take my tired rags and replace them with new ones.

And he did just that. Taking the old, tired rags of my existence that covered the griefs and wounds of a life sadly lived, he replaced them with the new clothes of a life spent following Him. He put new rags on me and I am now a reflection of the hope he offers to us all.

The Ragman.

The Ragman.

The Christ.


[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) faith family god's will good friday inspiration seeing beyond song for all seasons the ragman Fri, 02 Apr 2021 18:44:21 GMT
Pitching Hay Into the Wind Pitching Hay Into the Wind

January 14th was one of those days, when if you had had an umbrella like Mary Poppins, or even a five gallon bucket (as I did), you could have flown away. In a normal January, it would have been a blizzard, and no one would have stirred a wheel except to feed the cows, because you couldn’t have seen the neighbors’ place, let alone the stripes on the highway.

But South Dakota, being a lady of variable tastes, is gifting us with an open winter this year. November, December, and now January, have brought week upon week of clear skies, above freezing temperatures, and minimal precipitation. To be fair, she did send us a foot of snow in October, long before snow was in vogue, but that is long gone and the prairie is brown from horizon to horizon.

As I tried to pitch hay to my colts into the forty mile per hour wind, I wondered how much of it they’d actually get into their bellies before most of it blew to the neighbors. Or the next county. There’s just no good way to do that job under such conditions. No matter which way you point the pitchfork, the hay leaves. I got more in my eyes and down my collar than I did into their feeder, I am sure.

Pitching hay into the wind is one of those things that makes a person inclined to say, with Solomon, that ‘all is vanity.’ And as I pitched, or made a stab at it, I thought of other things that can make one feel that life is an empty effort and all has been in vain. I made my mental list of the hard things, the things that knock us to our knees, that make us toss the tools aside. Life is full of them, and in agriculture we are frequently made aware that we are not the ones in control. Just like the wind ripping the hay off my pitchfork, the best laid plans and brightest dreams can be gone---literally---with the wind. A blizzard, a fire, a flash flood, a market crash, a case of coccidiosis, a drought, a cancer diagnosis, a four wheeler accident, and life changes irreparably in an instant.

And there’s no picking up the pieces.

As the hay flew past my face instead of staying in the feeder, I thought of how life is often just like that.

That sometimes despite all of our best efforts what we have worked so hard for is ripped out of our hands and it is gone.

I had no idea then, that mere hours later I would be watching that drama play out, larger than life, in flames that spread wildly across the horizon from northwest to southeast, flames that would race twenty miles in just over two hours driven by the same wind that relentlessly blew the hay off the tines of my pitchfork.

Flames that would impact my family, my friends, my neighbors, my community. I knew their general trajectory, though in the dark I couldn’t tell the exact path of the fire. Still, I knew that no matter where it burned, it would touch someone that I knew. And I thought of the cows, the saddle horses, the haystacks that fed them, the barns and corrals that represented generations of blood, sweat and tears, the homes that held life and laughter and love. And I knew the frantic rush of doing all that could be done to keep these things safe, and I saw that the fire was leaving little time to accomplish that.

And I prayed. Knowing, but not knowing. And I watched the little dots of flashing lights moving past, moving toward the inferno. And I knew that while I watched and prayed, others were doing. That together, dozens of volunteer fire departments and hundreds of people were walking into the face of that monster and saying ‘no.’

It looked impossible. But they didn’t give up. And they fought a good fight. Eventually the angry orange monster that spanned the skyline was reduced to small bright spots on the horizon. By dawn, there was darkness again. The battle was won.  By the mercy of God, the fire was stopped.

But it’s not over. There are fences to be fixed, trees to be replanted, livestock to be accounted for; there are things that are gone that can never be replaced. There are hearts that are scarred with fear and trauma and loss. But my neighbors will find a way. They will rebuild and replant. Spring will come and green will cover the black, charred scars on the earth. We will pull together as a community, pick up our fencing tools, load up hay and supplies, dig postholes and plant seedling trees. We will find hope and resilience and life again.  

God’s mercies are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness!



[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) ends of the earth faith perkins county seeing beyond south dakota windy fire Sat, 06 Feb 2021 01:30:41 GMT
Recipes for a Prairie Christmas: DeLila Schneider Recipes for a Prairie Christmas:

DeLila Schneider’s Christmas Memories

The little sod house where DeLila (Stiegelmeier) Schneider was born is still standing on a little patch of prairie in Walworth County, South Dakota, just over one hundred years after her father purchased the land. This is her ninetieth Christmas, and while Covid has kept her from seeing much of her family since March she is still baking cookies for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

DeLila was the youngest of Jacob and Katie Stiegelmeier’s four children, following brothers Wilmer and Milton and sister Ellen. Her earliest memories of Christmas don’t involve much fanfare.

“We didn’t have much for presents, but we always had plenty of good food,” she recalled. “We didn’t have a tree when I was young, though we did a few times when I was older. It was the Dirty Thirties, and times were hard.”

In spite of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, the family never lacked.

“Mother grew a big garden and we carried water from the well,” DeLila said. “She grew potatoes, head lettuce, spinach, lettuce, beans, beets and carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes. She made the best dill pickles.”

DeLila learned to cook at an early age.

“I was always underfoot in the kitchen,” she laughed. “I wasn’t very old the first time I made kuchen all by myself, perhaps ten or maybe a little younger. Mom and the rest of the family went out to dig potatoes.  I looked around the house and thought to myself, ‘I should just make Kuchen.’ But not with mom’s recipe, oh no, that wasn’t good enough. I made up my own. When dad came in for supper and tried it, he said it was the best Kuchen we’d ever had, and oh, I felt so happy.”

Many of DeLila’s favorite recipes call for cream, and no wonder; she helped milk cows morning and night as a child, and through a good part of her married life as well.

“Everybody milked cows at our house,” she said. “We didn’t milk as many as some; we had neighbors who milked twenty or thirty head. We had ten or twelve at the most.”

It was work, but oh, the fresh milk and cream, homemade butter, ice cream and cottage cheese!  

DeLila was raised in a Christian home, but the family did not often attend church. Her mother was a Baptist; her father, a Seventh Day Adventist, so they held differing views on theology. But when friends invited her to participate in the Java Lutheran church’s Christmas program, her parents were always willing to allow her to take part. She also remembers working hard on her part for the Christmas program at the country school she attended a few miles from home.

“It was just a joy to participate and tell the story of the Nativity,” she said. “Going to country school we also had a Christmas program along with an ice cream and pie social. Mom always made apple pie and chocolate ice cream to take. Ordinarily I don’t associate chocolate ice cream with apple pie, but mom’s chocolate ice cream always disappeared!

“One memory I have of the school program was a year that I was asked to give an address. Dad helped me prepare it. We thought so highly of President Roosevelt, and when I wrote my address, Dad suggested I begin it the way the President always began his speeches: ‘My Friends...’”

For DeLila’s seventh grade year, she attended school in Java because there was a shortage of teachers due to World War II and the little country school could not get a teacher. Boarding in Java was hard, as a little seventh grader, with all those high school girls to contend with. The soup was usually pretty thin by the time it got passed to her end of the table. She graduated from the eighth grade in the country school, and again boarded at the dormitory in Java as a freshman. By then it was a pretty big school, as other schools in the area such as Lowry, Akaska and Mound City had closed.

It was at Christmastime of her freshman year that the dormitory was suddenly closed and the girls had to hustle to find places to board around town. DeLila and three friends found a spot with an older lady, but the house was heated only by an old wood stove in the basement, and the upstairs rooms where the girls stayed were bitter cold through the winter. Adjusting to life in town was a challenge!

“We may not have had much for Christmas presents, but we always had plenty to eat at home,” DeLila said. “In our house it was traditional at the holidays that my mother would cook a goose and dressing with all the trimmings. We always had celery and cooked fresh cranberries, mashed potatoes, kuchen and pies. We had a neighbor who raised geese and my parents would buy one from him for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. My mother always cooked a wonderful meal for the holidays.”

DeLila taught country school after she graduated from high school. She had to walk a mile and a half from the place where she boarded to the school, and if it was twenty below zero outside, it was also twenty below in the schoolhouse. The following June she married Rinel Schneider. That fall she took a job teaching the country school he had attended as a child for a hundred thirty-five dollars per month. Reiny drove her to the school with the horses and sled and helped her start the fire.

Money from that teaching job helped to buy a fine combination coal and gas Monarch stove for the kitchen. DeLila learned from her new husband and his brothers how to butcher hogs.

“I had never butchered before, but Reiny and his oldest brother Albert were so helpful about telling me things and soon I was an old pro!” she recalled. “We kept some meat frozen in the garage for eating over the winter and I canned over a hundred quarts of meat for the next summer.”

Now the task for cooking for a crew fell on DeLila’s shoulders. She was a capable cook, but her kettles were too small to prepare a meal for twelve men!

“My potato pot was not big enough,” she laughed. “I needed a new kettle so badly, but we waited to get one until Christmas.”

DeLila also learned to grow and prepare rhubarb as a new bride.

“Mother didn’t raise rhubarb,” she said, “But the Schneiders did. When we moved into our house I planted red rhubarb there. I found a recipe for a rhubarb cream pie after we got married and Reiny loved it.”

Two years later, DeLila was asked to teach again, this time at a school about six miles from their place, without decent roads to travel on.

“‘What do you think?’ I asked Reiny. ‘They really want me to come.’  ‘Well,’ he said, ‘We could really use the money. Tell them you’ll start the school but that you’ll have to quit when it snows.’ I taught until Christmas and then it snowed, so I called to tell them I wouldn’t be teaching any more. Reiny wired the house with the money I earned from that job, and that was such a joy to have electricity.”

From her childhood in the Dirty Thirties, to a young farm wife working alongside her husband, to a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, DeLila’s cooking has been shared with her family, friends and community. Here are a few holiday related favorite recipes and tips that she shared.

Tips for Roast Goose:

“Mother always added some extra eggs to the bread stuffing to make it a little bit firmer consistency since a goose is so much more fatty than a turkey. By the time it was about half done cooking there would be several cups of fat in the roaster, so I would lift it out and pour the fat off before returning it to the oven.”

Apple Pie by Guess and by Gosh

“Every fall, dad would go to town and get several boxes of apples off the train. Our favorites were the Rome Beauty apples. They made the best pies. Mother made apple pies galore.

“I’ve made so many I don’t even measure. I sift a little salt and sugar with the flour and cut in shortening until it is crumbly. I always use lard for pie crust. Then I add just enough ice water to form the dough.

“I can’t get Rome Beauty apples anymore, but I have experimented with different kinds of apples and Braeburn is a good choice for pies. I peel the apples and cut them into chunks, then dust the bottom crust with flour, put the apples in and sprinkle about ¾ cup of sugar and some cinnamon over them. Cover with a top crust and bake at 350. Apple pies can easily be frozen before baking, and when I am ready to use them I put the frozen pie into the oven at 350 and they turn out wonderfully. If I freeze them I don’t cut the slits in the top crust until I bake them.”

DeLila’s Honey Cookies

Cream: 1 c honey

1 c sugar

1 c butter

Add: 1 c sour cream

3 eggs

1 rounded tsp soda

1 tsp vanilla

Add enough flour for a soft dough, approximately 6-6 ½ cups. Roll and cut into your favorite shapes. Bake at 350 about 12 minutes until light brown.


Rhubarb Cream Pie

2 ½ cups rhubarb cut into ¼” pieces

In early spring when the rhubarb is tender, there is no need to blanch it, but after it is more mature, blanching is a good idea.

Beat: 3 eggs

1 Tbsp flour

1 c sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 c cream

1/8 tsp salt

Line a pie pan with crust, dust it lightly with flour and put the rhubarb in the crust. Beat sugar, flour and salt with the eggs, then add the cream and vanilla and pour over the rhubarb. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 for an hour or until set.

DeLila’s tip: “Pies can be placed on a cookie sheet or into larger pie pans to prevent a mess in the oven if they spill or boil over!”

Pumpkin Bladgenda

There are many different spellings of this German food, but they are all tasty! It can also be made with an apple filling.


8 cups pumpkin or squash

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 ½ c sugar


½ cup oil or shortening

1 c sugar

3 eggs

2 c sweet cream

2 tsp vanilla

Beat well. Add:

5 c flour sifted with ½ tsp salt & 3 tsp baking powder.

Spoon large egg sized pieces of dough onto a floured counter. Roll lengthwise. Make vent cuts in what will be the top half of the crust. Spread filling on the crust, fold over and seal the edges. Bake at 350 for twenty minutes or until the edges are brown.

DeLila’s tip: “This recipe makes a bunch! I like to freeze some. To thaw, put a frozen bladgenda on a cookie sheet in the oven at 300 for twenty minutes. It works marvelously and tastes just like it is freshly baked.”

Grandma ‘S’ Sour Cream Cookies-Katie Stiegelmeier

4 eggs

3 c sugar

2 tsp vanilla

½ tsp salt

1 ½ heaping tsp soda

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 quart sour cream

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir soda into the sour cream to dissolve it. Combine and add 2 c. flour sifted with salt and baking powder. Add sufficient flour to make dough stiff enough to roll. Roll on a floured board and cut with a cookie cutter. Keep the scraps separate, as they will make the dough too stiff because of the extra flour. Bake at 350 until light brown.

Sour Cream Cookies II

DeLila started using this recipe because Reiny preferred a softer cookie.

Cream: 1 c shortening

3 c sugar

Add: 4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla OR almond extract OR Lemmon juice concentrate

Mix well and add: 2 c cultured sour cream

Sift together and add: 7 c flour

1 scant tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

4 tsp baking powder

Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-14 minutes. Watch them carefully; don’t overbake or they will not be soft. Frost with a powdered sugar icing.

Kitchen wisdom from DeLila: “Cream and butter make everything better---except cholesterol!”

Homemade Ice Cream

This recipe for a cooked custard is very similar to the method used by Katie Stiegelmeier. My dad, Jim, taught me how to make it.

Scald 1 quart milk. Beat six eggs. Pour a little of the steaming milk into the beaten eggs to warm them and then pour that mixture into the kettle with the remaining milk. Stir CONSTANTLY until the mixture coats the spoon. Remove from heat, dissolve 1 cup honey or 1 ½ c sugar into the custard. Place the kettle in a sink of cold water to cool it down. When cool, add 1-2 Tbsp vanilla. Refrigerate until you are ready to churn it.

Katie added the sugar to the beaten eggs prior to cooking the custard. She used a paste of cocoa powder, a little salt and water to flavor her chocolate ice cream. Other variations include adding blueberries, strawberries, peaches or toasted almonds to the churn.

Wait for a summer hailstorm, as DeLila and her siblings did, or crush ice and have extra coarse salt on hand. Pour custard into the churn, add 1 quart of heavy cream and fill ONLY to the line with additional milk if needed. Ice cream expands when it freezes! Pack ice around the churn, sprinkle liberally with salt (start with about 1 cup), and crank away. Add ice and salt as needed, being careful to keep the salt away from the little hole where the dasher fits in. Crank until it gets too stiff to turn. Enjoy!


DeLila’s tip: The day before, boil potatoes and reserve the water for kuchen dough. DeLila adds salt and about a teaspoon of oil to the kettle to keep the potatoes from boiling over. The added starch in the potato water helps the yeast in the kuchen dough. Preparing the fruit and filling the day before also makes the project go smoothly. It is best to have the filling at room temperature before putting it on the rising dough. This recipe makes 18 kuchen, and DeLila could easily get them done by noon.

Filling: 2 quarts cream

2 c milk

2 c sugar

6 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

¼ tsp salt

2 Tbsp cornstarch OR 4 Tbsp flour

Use a little milk to moisten the corn starch. Heat remaining milk and cream. Beat eggs and sugar, then add cornstarch mixture and vanilla. When milk is hot, add egg mixture and cook just until it thickens.


Dough: Proof 3 packages of dry yeast in ½ c warm water plus 1 tsp sugar.

Warm 2 c milk with 2 c potato water. Add 1 c sugar, 1 c oil, ¾ tsp salt and beat well. Stir in 2 c flour to make a sponge. Sprinkle a handful of flour over the sponge. Beat 3 eggs, pour onto the floured sponge and beat well with a spoon. Sprinkle another handful of flour over the sponge and pour the yeast mixture onto it. Adding the eggs and yeast in this manner helps to prevent the oil from hindering their rising action. DeLila learned this method from her mother. Beat well and then add enough flour to make a soft dough, kneading well by hand. Allow to rise twice before rolling crusts.

Roll all the crusts, place your favorite fruit---prunes, peaches, rhubarb, strawberries, apples---on the crust and pour filling over the fruit. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes. Make sure the bottoms are browned a little.






[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) biography christmas delila schneider family heritage recipes walworth county south dakota Sat, 06 Feb 2021 01:27:26 GMT
Albert Hoff Under His Wings:

Albert Hoff Used Military Skills in Civilian Setting


He was a farmer. A cattleman. He was a loving husband and father. He was a soldier.

I knew him as ‘Grandpa.’

Albert ‘Al’ Hoff, Bison South Dakota, was the son of German-Russian immigrant parents John and Fredericka Hoff. He was born October 20, 1919, at Eureka, South Dakota, and arrived in the middle of John and Fredericka’s family of eighteen children. The family moved to the Date, South Dakota area when Al was in the second grade. He grew up attending country school, working on the farm and graduated from Bison High School.

Al’s first job after he graduated was washing dishes for a dollar a day at a restaurant in Hot Springs, South Dakota. He moved to Washington and got a job at a sawmill in the Wenatchee Valley, living with his sister until he was drafted into the Army in 1942 to serve his country during World War II.

Al was trained as a Ham Radio operator. He sailed for North Africa on the U.S.S. Thurston with the 9th Infantry Division of the United States Army.

“When we left the States I remember seeing the statue of Liberty in New York Harbor,” Al recalled. “We were all issued life jackets. I thought mine would make a nice pillow to sit on. One day I heard, ‘You---hey! You!’ The captain was talking straight to me. ‘What do you think? You’re going on a pleasure cruise? You put that life jacket on and you keep it on!’ So I did. Boy, I got it on and I kept it on, too!”

Al didn’t enjoy his first sea voyage. The rolling waves made him feel seasick, and though he never threw up a lot of the other soldiers were in pretty bad shape. The sailors had pretty nice food, but the soldiers’ fare was not very pleasant. Everywhere he looked he saw ships. Their convoy included cruisers and destroyers, but no big battleships.

“One morning all at once the ship just shivered and shook and shuddered,” Al remembered. “I thought we got torpedoed. We and another ship in our convoy had rammed each other. The ship was dented but it was ok.”

They landed at Casa Blanca, North Africa, on Christmas Eve of 1942. Here Al got his first taste of ‘C rations’ and he was not impressed.

“A rations were regular food,” he explained. “I had some A rations in England later on. Mostly we had C and D rations. D was just a hard chocolate bar to keep you from starving to death. There were three kinds of C rations: meat hash, meat stew and meat and beans.”

He had his fill of meat hash in the Army. Some years later, after he was married, his wife, Kari bought a can of stew at the grocery store, just in case of a situation where she needed to get a meal on in a hurry. When Al saw the can, he told her, “Don’t you ever buy that again!” She never did.

The troops travelled along the northern edge of Africa to Algeria in old French railroad cars classed ‘Forty Homo’ or ‘Eight Horses.’

“There I got my first sight of the war,” Al remembered. “At night we saw fighting in the distance. We could see the flash of the artillery fire where other troops ahead of us were fighting the Germans.”

They met the war head on.

“The Germans always came out of the sun so we could hardly see them and tried to kill us,” he said. “At night they dropped flare bombs so big that it would light up like it was day. One dropped close to me, maybe half a house length away. The concussion lifted me off the ground. That was one of the closest calls I had.”

Al was issued a tiny, metal covered New Testament that he carried in the pocket over his heart. Through all of the fighting, gunfire and bombs falling, sickness and close calls, he held on to the words of Psalm 91.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

As the Communications Officer, Al stayed with his radio. This meant he got to ride in the jeep that carried the radio and equipment. It was not a smooth ride, but he always felt sorry for the infantrymen who had to cover that rough terrain on foot. Messages were sent in code and the code was changed every day to make it more difficult for the Germans to intercept information. Al kept a grenade attached to his radio so that he could blow it up if needed so that the enemy would not get the code.

One day while they were eating chow as they called it, a mess sergeant who was rather trigger happy got spooked by something, grabbed his .50 caliber machine gun and started firing before he got it up.

“The bullets went just past my leg,” Al said. “It would have taken it off if he had hit me.”

They called it the African Tour, but with his classic sense of humor, Al said there had to be a better word than ‘tour’ to describe his time in Africa. It wasn’t a relaxing trip to see the sights. Al saw and experienced the horrors of war and said that much of it was best not retold.

A highlight of the war for Al came toward the end of the African campaign.

“I got the honor of sending the message from our general to the troops that were coming to go into Algiers and occupy it. This was one of the most historic messages I sent.”

The troops of the 9th were now seasoned soldiers. They shipped from Africa to Sicily, landing at Palermo Harbor.

“We received a very UN-welcome from the German bombers,” Al recalled with a chuckle. “I was down in the hold of the ship and thought I’d go up on deck to see what was going on. I went up and a piece of shrapnel whizzed right by me. I thought I’d seen enough and went back down again!”

 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Fighting in Sicily was hard, but the Americans proved victorious. Before they left Sicily, the troops were personally commended by General Patton himself.

“We stood and stood and stood, waiting,” Al remembered. “Finally he came. He told us we were going to England and he told us what we were going to do next: we were going into Europe to get that man, Hitler. Patton was a good general; he had guts like you wouldn’t believe.”

What Patton did not tell the men that day was that they were going to get a badly needed rest; the 9th  Infantry Division had seen some of the hardest fighting of the war and the soldiers needed some time to recuperate. They needed to be ready for the D-Day invasion, but they didn’t know that yet.

The ship to England was crowded. They arrived in time for the holidays in 1943. Al recalled smelling the tantalizing odors of a fancy dinner cooking: turkey, ham and all the trimmings. After a year of hash his mouth was watering. It turned out that the meal was for the brass; Al was given a bowl of soup.

“I poured it overboard,” he said. “I was so disappointed.”

Used to the warm climate of the Mediterranean, the damp cold of England was a hard adjustment. Al got sick, landing in a London hospital with a fever of 104 degrees. He spent the winter in the little town of Winchester. When the Germans flew bombing missions over England, Al saw the planes coming, like little white dots in the sky.

“One morning, Commander Blanchard came in and said, ‘Hey, boys, we’re back in civilization now, and the people are finding little puddles all over town,’ So we got an education,” Al laughed.

Thanks to the Red Cross, Al was able to spend time with his brother Herb, a highlight of his time in England. Herb was in the Air Force and had A rations: regular food instead of the monotonous hash.

Six months passed with additional training but only vague orders. They spent time waterizing their vehicles, raising the exhaust intake so that they would be able to drive through 3-4’ deep water. To try to fool the Germans they made a ‘dry run’ packing up their vehicles, getting on boats, heading for France, but turning around and coming right back.

Finally, at the end of May, the 9th Division was put on six hour alert. The men knew that something big was coming.

A.P.O. #9

June 1944


The hour for the greatest adventure of our lives is at hand. I have the greatest faith that the officers and men of this Division will meet the enemy as men of America would – with determination and a fury that will strike fear to the heart of the German soldier. No one knows better than we that he is not the “superman” his wicked leaders have tried to make us think he is. We know that man for man we are better than he.

Faith in a righteous cause and faith in our ability to defend that cause will win. A righteous cause is something that God has given us and denied our enemy. History does not lie.

With determined hearts and with the help of God, which we now beseech him to give us, we are going to win this war – now!

Good luck and Godspeed,

Major General U.S.A. Commanding


“We crossed to Normandy on June 10th, 1944,” Al said. “This was the fourth day of the D-Day invasion, or D plus four, as we called it. We were on boats crossing the English Channel at night. We were partway across when we ran into three German sub-chasers; why they didn’t sink us I don’t know. An Allied cruiser saw the sub chasers too, and when they saw us they thought we were Germans too. They started shooting at us! The shells were just clearing the deck, splashing water back in on us. To stop our ship from shooting at us, we opened fire on the sub-chasers, so then they fired at us. I can still see the tracers coming at us from the Germans. After it was over, the commander of our landing craft contacted the cruiser and said, ‘That was good shooting, but almost too good!’”

The shoreline was full of the lifejackets of the boys that landed in the first days of the invasion. Al stood up on the seat of the jeep so as not to get wet while they drove off of the landing craft, through the waves and onto Utah Beach. Meanwhile, battleships were shelling the enemy to protect the landing troops.

“After we landed it was not too long till the Germans started shooting at us,” Al said. “First thing we dug foxholes, just deep enough to get us underground. The French countryside was full of hedge rows so we used them for cover as we were scouting around. We found a dead U.S. soldier---we could tell by his uniform. Every time we saw our uniform on a fallen soldier we felt for them.”

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Fighting continued through France, Belgium and into Germany. While in France, Al sent a message for a young Frenchman to let his parents know that he was alright. Later, Al met his family and a lifelong friendship was formed. The young man’s parents were both schoolteachers and also had a little farm with dairy cows. During a brief respite from the fighting Al enjoyed a little taste of home life and the taste of fresh milk for the first time in a long time.

“We just got in on the tail end of the Battle of the Bulge,” Al said. “There we became acquainted with the buzz bomb. It made a lot of noise but it didn’t fly very high. Fire came out of its tail. It was designed to go a certain distance and then explode.”

The enemy was always trying to knock out communications, so Al got shelled a lot. Col. Van Hauten took his radio team right up to the front lines where they were under mortar fire.

“Mortar is short range,” he explained. “The enemy was just over the hill. I thought the colonel would surely get me killed driving that close to the front lines. I happened to glance at the wristwatch that my sister Martha had sent me. The mortar fire lasted one minute. It seemed like a lot longer!”

Al got a bad case of ‘jeep sickness’---sitting on the hard seat of the jeep gave him blisters all over his backside. The field hospital gave him a combination of penicillin and sulfa which caused him to swell up from his feet to his neck.

“They gave me a lot of attention after that,” he chuckled.

By early March, 1944, the 9th Infantry had reached the Rhine River at the town of Remagen. The Germans were fighting hard to defend the bridge across the Rhine River there.

“We crossed the railroad bridge at Remagen during the night,” Al remembered. “The Germans were trying to destroy the bridge. They finally got it down. My buddy, Stan Sailors and I went down to see the bridge after the Germans bombed it. Our engineers and GI’s were already working on building a new bridge below the old one. They just fished the pieces out of the water. The Germans were bombing us at the time. We had to sneak along from building to building to get back. That was the first time I saw a jet plane. I thought our P-38’s were fast but this German plane just swished right by.”

Through all of this commotion Al continued to operate his radio, sending and receiving vital messages.

“We kept the radios outside,” Al said. “There was a fellow in our outfit who had been a radio operator before. He invented a way to operate the radio remotely from a safe place with the key and a cord so that we wouldn’t have to be out and in danger while we were under fire.”

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

At last the Germans surrendered. Hitler was dead. The war was over. Al could go home. God had kept him safely under His wings. Many of his fellow soldiers were not coming home, though, and he carried that loss with him for the rest of his life.

“I remember coming into New York Harbor and seeing the crowds there in the city,” he recalled. “All those people, and every one of them an American!”

Back in South Dakota, Al enrolled in Spearfish College. It was there he met Kari Seim, who had grown up on a ranch north of Bison, and graduated from High School in Lemmon, South Dakota. It was love for a lifetime: they were married June 4, 1949 and spent sixty-two years sharing life on the Lazy H Ranch west of Bison where they raised their five children: Lance, Ericka, Linnea, Louis and Ronald. Al kept his radio skills sharp and used them throughout his life. Every morning he was up at the crack of dawn relaying weather observations over the radio. During the aftermath of the Rapid City Flood in 1972 Ham radio was the only communication method that had not been wiped out. Al was on the radio for several days straight relaying information to help in the recovery efforts, staying up till all hours getting messages to families about their loved ones.

He shared his love of the Ham radio with his grandsons, encouraging them to learn Morse Code and taking them to Ham Radio Field Days on occasion. He passed on a saying from one of his commanders: ‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!’ that has become standard household lingo for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren! They are also known to sing, as he did, with a twinkle in his eye, Irving Berlin’s words about life in the Army: “…The hardest blow of all, is to hear the bugler call; You've got to get up, you've got to get up, you've got to get up this morning! Some day I'm going to murder the bugler, Some day they're going to find him dead; I'll amputate his reveille, and step upon it heavily, …And then I'll get that other pup - The guy that wakes the bugler up -And spend the rest of my life in bed.”




[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) albert hoff biography family farmer perkins county south dakota soldier world war ii veteran wwii Sat, 06 Feb 2021 00:58:57 GMT


She was a skinny, scruffy little sorrel yearling-coming-two-year-old filly. Nothing fancy. Her feet were the wrong shape, her ears were scabby with some unknown fungus or parasite, and her long winter coat was scraggly and dull.

But she was friendly, the price was right, and for some reason my horse-timid mom was encouraging seventeen-year-old me to train my own young horse. So I wrote the check.

We had our first wreck between their barn and our trailer. She tried to pull away, spooked at something and ended up floundering on top of me in the ditch. It was February of 1997, the snow was deep, and I didn’t get hurt. That time.

Not so much the other times. She banged my face into the barn wall a couple of days later when I tried to worm her. That hurt.

But I loved her anyway.

She was spoiled rotten, but she was quick to learn and willing to do whatever I asked of her. She didn’t mind my saddle on her back, and within a month I was climbing onto her bare back from an upside-down water tank (I couldn’t jump on bareback then or now…) and riding her around the pen in front of the barn. It really was pretty amazing.

I agonized over a name for her. In all the horse stories the horses had such perfect names, and she needed a good one. She wasn’t registered, so I had no names of great-grand horses to refer to. I didn’t like the name her previous owners had given her either. Six weeks went by and she still didn’t have the right name. I was still calling her ‘little mare.’

We happened to watch a movie set in the 1940’s and a song from it started running through my head.

“Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey

A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?” [i]

There it was. Mairzie. 

I tried it on her and it fit. Mairzie.

It was perfect.

We learned and grew together.  She was always happy to see me, always seemed glad to be caught, and she whinnied at me from the corral when she saw me across the yard. If I walked across her pen she followed me even if I didn’t catch her first. She had that itchy spot on her neck just behind her ears and oh, she loved it when I scratched her there. And I loved to hop on her bareback and just ride. Just for the fun of it.

The worst wreck happened when she was three. I was riding her with a rope halter and learned the hard way to never, never, never wrap a rope around my hand. Marizie spooked at a pheasant, whirled, and I slipped out of the saddle. She took off at a gallop. I tried to hold on and whoa her, but inside of a couple of seconds I was on the ground and she was dragging me along by my right hand as fast as she could run.

“Dear God, I can’t let go!” ran through my mind, as I saw her belly above me and the blue sky beyond. It seemed to last longer than it did, but with one final thud I was still and Marizie galloped back to the gate. I shook the dirt off and went to catch her and take my saddle off before heading to the house to show mom what was left of my right middle finger. The nail was still there, somehow, but the entire tip was gone, down to the bone. My hand was rope burned pretty badly, I could feel the edges of broken bones in my thumb, and I had hoof prints from my thighs to my chest. After a trip to the Emergency Room and a lecture from my Dad on the importance of wearing gloves, I sank into bed, just glad to be alive, glad I still had a hand and an arm.

Mairzie had hurt me, and she had scared me pretty badly. She wasn’t mean, just showing a much livelier side of herself than she had presented the year before. It wasn’t entirely her fault that I had fallen off. Who couldn’t love her in spite of the pain? With some reminders about who was really in charge, some ranch miles put on her by the cowboy I would later call my husband, and the addition of a snaffle bit, our relationship improved.

She still scared me, sometimes. But I knew she respected me and would do what I asked of her. Always. She had a wild side, but she was sweet through and through.

Days flowed into weeks that turned into months that grew into years. Mairzie matured into a tried and true ranch horse, although my cowboy credentials did not grow at the same pace. She learned the routine of checking heifers every two hours, with the patience lessons of standing tied in between. She drug a calf sled, drug calves at brandings, and ponied head strong colts. I, on the other hand, roped one calf, one time, and it is a story I don’t care to recount!

She was so plucky. She could spook, and how she loved to run! But nothing fazed her when it came to cows. She would work all day long, mile after mile, and not give out.  We trailed cows twelve miles home from pasture in the bitter cold after an early snowstorm, and Mairzie was the horse that finally convinced the cows that crossing a bridge really was ok when they balked and tried to turn back on us.

Early morning summer pasture checks were our favorite times. The golden light breaking over the hills, the dew like diamonds in the grass, the contented cows waiting to be counted, and Marizie’s run when I gave her her head all spoke joy. On a couple of occasions, she stepped in a hole and we both went head over teakettle and fell with a crash. She would stand there, looking down at me with her quizzical expression, wondering what in tarnation was I doing down there and waiting for me to right myself and climb back on. And away we’d go again.

In the midst of those busy days of farm work and college courses, I made a point to take time on my birthday to just ride. Just for the fun of it. Mairzie. Bareback. It became a tradition.

Then one day the cowboy that helped me with Mairzie’s training asked me to marry him, and Mairzie and I moved to West River ranch country. We got to gather cattle together on our honeymoon.

Somehow, then, Marizie became my husband’s horse. Maybe it was because I started having babies. Maybe it was because she was the best horse on the place. Who knows? Pretty soon she was carrying our babies in their Daddy’s saddle.

She worked hard with Ben. AI’ing cows. Day work for the neighbors. Brandings. Getting calving heifers into the barn. She was the go-to horse. Occasionally she’d favor a front foot a bit, but she always came out of it.

Until 2007. The ‘other hired man’s’ horse took off and Mairzie was asked to go after him. In typical fashion, she kept chase and didn’t give up. But the next day she could barely walk. A trip to Dr. Ismay revealed severe navicular deterioration. She was only twelve.

“Get yourself a different horse,” was the verdict.

I left the vet clinic fighting back tears.

In the space of six months I had lost a baby, we had moved, I had miscarried another baby---now my horse? How would I ever replace Mairzie?

Another pregnancy sidelined my riding for a time. Mairzie had a year and half’s rest. When I got on her again she was full of fire and sass, and her limp was mostly gone.

So we rode her. Not as hard as before; if we put in a long day she would definitely favor that right front foot. But we could still ride her. By this time our oldest son was needing his own mount, and Mairzie was the natural choice. She had never been a ‘kids’ horse, though, and their first venture did not end well.  She took off, he came off, and it was another wreck. Thankfully all his limbs were still intact.

He was determined to ride, though, so in the smallest pen in the corral I stood back and chewed her out while he rode her around. Pretty soon he figured out how to communicate with her, and she figured out that there really was somebody up there; soon they graduated to a slightly bigger pen, then to trotting, loping, jumping feed bunks, and John Wayne style bareback tricks.

Fastforward another decade.

A couple more babies, for a total of five, and Mairzie and I are both showing grey around the edges. Each child, in turn, has been carried in the saddle with their daddy or I on her back; each child, in turn, has been boosted up and learned to balance on her bareback, learned to ask her to go, to stop, to turn, learned to move with her smooth-as-glass trot.

She is officially the children’s horse, but I still grab the chance to ride her when I can. Anytime I can slip on her bridle, climb onto her bareback from the corral fence (because I still can’t leap on…) and lope out across the pasture is a good day. Sometimes I sort cows bareback on Mairzie in January so I can feel her warmth when it’s twenty below in the sunshine. Sometimes I go out to check cows bareback if I can sneak away without someone else wanting to ride her. I keep the birthday tradition of a bareback ride, but now I have three little girls tagging along, riding double with me or bumping me off Mairzie altogether so they can ride her.

Sometimes the birthday ride is a little more serious because it coincides with pulling bulls. I don’t do that bareback. The two big boys and their dad, all of us well mounted on younger, spryer horses, get in on the action, with the girls all fighting over who gets to ride Mairzie. Because she’s the best. She just is. And she gets extra oats because she’s getting that ‘old horse’ look; the sway to her back, the dishes above her eyes, the gray hairs on her face; but she still insists on keeping up with the action behind the cattle and takes no sass from the bulls determined to stay with their harem.

How many miles did I ride her? Ranchers don’t put ‘step counting’ computer chips on our horses’ feet, but I know it was a lot. The pasture checks of our younger days when light and dreams were golden. The uncountable miles of gathering bulls and cows out of the government pasture. The ten mile drive home from up north every fall. The eight mile trek across the river to my in-laws that my husband’s family has been making for the last thirty years, give or take. Sometimes bringing their cows west to where we live. Now taking our cows there for the summer and bringing them home again in the fall. Countless trips out to the pasture after the milk cows, forays into the neighbors’ pastures after renegade bulls and stud horses, mare gatherings, pair sortings, heifer checkings…

How much did she teach me in all those miles? That is equally hard to quantify. Balance. Moving with her. Trust. Communication. How to be brave and get back on when we both fell. The sheer joy of the wind in my face and her gallop the rhythm beneath me.

How many times did I just slip on her bridle and ride for the pure pleasure of it?

Not enough.

Monday morning, June 3, 2019, my youngest daughter came into the kitchen. The girls had beat me out the door that morning.

“Mommy, why is Mairzie laying there like she’s dead?”

My heart hit the pit of my stomach.

Just last night she was trotting around the yard with a girl on her back and a piece of twine for a bridle.

“Maybe she’s just resting,” I tried to be optimistic as I headed out to investigate.

But there was no question when I saw her. No maybes. No goodbyes.


She was gone.

No sign of struggle. No days of teeth floatings, special feed, slowing down, and slow aging. Just a faithful, kind, feisty, determined old heart that stopped beating. Twenty-two years together came to an abrupt end. My old cowboy neighbor said, “That’s the best way,” when I told him the news. He is probably right. But I think I would have preferred a little warning. Although I knew that day would come eventually, part of me wanted to hope that somehow it never would.

How many miles did she carry me? I’ll never know that for sure. But I do know that I carried her the last mile. And with the tricks a person’s mind plays I kept expecting her to look up at me with that quirky expression wondering what in tarnation was she doing down there and what in the blazes did I think I was doing anyway?

But she didn’t.

And I left her there on the hill in the far corner of the pasture and went home to figure out how to get the day’s work done without her to depend on. Who rides which horse when the one that everybody can ride is suddenly missing?


We didn’t raise any foals out of Mairzie to carry on her line, because we didn’t want a baby to be saddled with her severe navicular issues. But among the horses we do raise I’m always watching for the ones that have her spirit, her personality, her love of chasing cows. And never mind your fancy grullos and buckskins and roans. Mairzie taught me long ago that a good horse is a good color. Although I must admit I’m a sucker for a blaze faced sorrel with white feet----thanks to Mairzie.

And there’s a three-year-old filly that likes to follow me around even when I haven’t caught her that I need to climb onto one of these days. She won’t take Mairzie’s place, but she will carry on her legacy.









[i] Mairzy Doats, 1943, by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston.


[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) autobiography horses mairzie ranch horses the good ones working ranch horse Sat, 06 Feb 2021 00:56:39 GMT
Glen Weiss Glen Weiss:

World War II Veteran

Glen Weiss grew up on the family ranch near Mud Butte, South Dakota, son of Charles and Elizabeth (Ingalls) Weiss. His mother was a true pioneer like her famous cousin, Laura (Ingalls) Wilder. She was in her mid-twenties and had not married, so she decided she was a confirmed ‘old maid’ and ventured west from her hometown of Colton, South Dakota to homestead in Meade County. Elizabeth’s father Albert declared that she was not going to go out to that God-forsaken country alone, so he brought his wife, Rosa, sons Lawrence and Walter and daughter May all west to homestead near his daughter.

Here Elizabeth met Charlie Weiss, and they were married in 1912. Glen was born in 1916 and grew up with siblings Edith, Clair, Dorwin, Carole and Joyce, helping his parents on the ranch and running the sheep wagon to care for the family’s large flock of sheep. Glen attended country schools and graduated from Faith High School. He spent two years at South Dakota School of Mines prior to joining the U.S. Army in 1940. Due to the war in Europe and Asia, Glen knew he would be drafted if he didn’t volunteer, even though he would have preferred to stay on the ranch and herd sheep. He soon transferred to the Army Air Corps, initially planning to use his skills as a mechanic. Testing, however, indicated he had the talent to be a bombardier, so he was soon in flight training for his new role.

Glen married a neighbor girl, Clarice “Kay” Swenson, on June 5th, 1942. Kay was also a graduate of Faith High School and had a first year teaching certificate from Black Hills Teachers College. Her older sister Margaret “Muggs” Swenson was a classmate of Glen’s. When Kay was about twelve, Glen had come calling for Margaret to take her to a tent show, but Margaret had already gone with someone else. Kay piped up: “I’ll go!” Kay’s parents trusted Glen so they gave their permission, but he was not excited about the prospect of taking his date’s kid sister to town. “Well, whatever, I guess I’ll take her,” was his response to this unplanned ‘first date’ with his future wife!

After their marriage, Kay tagged along with Glen from base to base, a practice that was not encouraged but was nonetheless common among Army wives. In a bit of Divine intervention, Kay was sitting in a bus station not knowing where to go next when a woman from the town came in, sized her up, and asked Kay if she’d like to board in her home. Kay knew that if she simply couldn’t find a place to stay near Glen she could always go home to South Dakota, but she managed to stay close to him until he was shipped overseas.

Glen left for base camp in England in November, 1943, and Kay went home to Meade County to teach country school and help on her parents ranch again. Kay and Muggs each had a school that winter; Muggs was teaching the Fees, Overland and Sternad children at the Tama School, and Kay taught the Allen, Lehman, Price, Schleuning and Sinkey children at East Pine School, located a mile or so north of Opal, South Dakota. The sisters spent weekends at their parents’ home until the weather turned vicious, and repeated blizzards made travel across the prairie nearly impossible.

Glen was stationed in England and as bombardier of his flight crew began flying on bombing missions over Germany. He had a bit of a close call while in London. While waiting in a crowded station for a ride on the subway train, Glen got pushed and fell onto the track. Fortunately, both hands landed on the cold rail and he missed the electric rail. His friends managed to pull him off without him getting run over by the train or electrocuted!

 January 11th, 1944, their B-17 took off on a mission to wipe out munitions factories in Germany. Apparently the enemy had a lot of information, because they took every plane out of the sky that day.

It was only Glen’s third mission. He had written in his diary the night before: “Maximum effort tomorrow. Big raid.”

When Glen’s plane was hit, the gun grip was shot out of his hand and three of the fingers on his left hand were shot off. He and his crew mates had to bail out and parachuted from the plane. Glen was bleeding badly from his wounded hand, so he pulled his cord sooner than normal because he feared he might pass out. He and fellow crew members landed in a field and were met by German boys with pitchforks. Their young captors marched the soldiers to their Grandma’s house where Grandma washed and bound up Glen’s injured hand before they were turned over to the German authorities.

Glen later said, “We never could have any real hard feelings for the German people. They were just people like we were.”

He of course did not like Hitler or the Gestapo but felt that most of the people had been sucked into the war.

Because of his injury, Glen spent some time in a German hospital where he was cared for by a surgeon from South Africa. With his one good hand, Glen was soon helping the surgeon with other patients. The surgeon told Glen that he would make a good surgeon; no doubt this was due to Glen’s ranch background, where he had pulled lambs and developed good diagnostic skills working with the livestock.

Meanwhile, Kay received the telegram that told her Glen was missing in action about the time the weather turned nasty back in South Dakota. Kay was grateful for her job and the children keeping her busy while she said her prayers day to day and kept on doing what needed to be done while she waited for news.

Glen was soon interrogated by the Germans.

“When they marched us out that morning we thought we were going to be shot,” he later told his wife.

It did have a happier result: during the interrogation a photo was taken that eventually made it into the Stars and Stripes, where a friend of Glen’s recognized him and sent the clipping to Kay. Kay didn’t receive it until spring, thanks to the continuous blizzards and the deep snow that held western South Dakota in its grip for months.

Even though the U.S. Mail was not traveling in rural Meade County, gossip still managed to get through. In March, Muggs heard through the ‘grapevine’ that Glen had been killed. It took the sisters a bit to figure out how the rumor started, but they realized that it had started with news that Clarence Weiss from Newell had died in a German prison camp. Knowing that Kay’s parents had probably heard the same rumor, the girls took off horseback across the snow-covered prairie to let them know that the word about Glen was only a rumor. Wearing nearly every piece of clothing they could get on, they were so well-bundled they could barely mount, but they braved the bitter winds, following trails where neighbors had hauled hay and breaking trail through the deep drifts where there was no trail to follow.

After riding for most of the day, they finally made it to the Swensons’ place, where they found an entire 100 pound flour sack filled with mail. It had been nearly six weeks since the last delivery! Unfortunately, there was still no further word from Glen among all those letters.

After the interrogation, Glen was interred in Stalag Luft I near the town of Barth, Germany, on the Baltic Sea. There the POW’s lost an average of thirty pounds apiece on the meager rations. German bread, which contained large amounts of sawdust. One prisoner recalled a loaf falling off the bread wagon and not even getting a dent in it when the wheel ran over it. German cheese: the prisoners joked that the smell would kill the rats in the barracks; the taste of it, in all seriousness, would make a man vomit. German margarine, which they considered completely inedible. Mostly the German rations consisted of potatoes and other vegetables such as cabbage, parsnips, beets or turnips, thin barley soup and a small amount of meat---usually horsemeat.

“If not for the Red Cross packages I don’t think we’d have made it,” Glen told Kay. “We were starving, but so were the civilians in the area.”

Red Cross packages contained a box of prunes or raisins, a can of Klim (condensed milk), a D-bar, cigarettes, crackers and a can of Spam. During September, October, and November, 1944, the Red Cross supplies ran low. German rations were dwindling to around 800 calories per man per day. For the month of March, 1945, food became so scarce that American MP’s were placed around the garbage cans in the camp to prevent the starving prisoners from eating the contents and becoming ill. Finally, in April, a Red Cross Shipment came through and the men had sufficient food again until the end of the war.

Communication was difficult during this time to say the least. Mail coming to Stalag Luft I was censored at Stalag Luft III. Some pieces of mail received at the camp had been in transit six or seven months. Glen was allowed to write to his wife and his mother, and the two women shared what news they received with each other. Glen and Kay’s daughter Edi (Weiss) Holzbauer still has the letters they wrote each other during Glen’s imprisonment.

“We were such rotten little kids,” Edi laughed. “My mother kept the letters in the attic. My siblings and I would sneak up there to read them; it was a bit clandestine!  How we would giggle over their endearments. ‘Oh, my dearest darling…’ They were full of a lot of black lines where they had been censored.”

Each soldier was given a diary when they were interred, but Glen did not write anything in his until the day they were liberated. Edi believes this was because he didn’t want to risk the Germans getting any information out of him.

From the camp, Glen could see the steeple of a church in Barth. That bit of beauty was a sight that gave him hope throughout his imprisonment.

The men in the camp did their best to keep morale up. One of Glen’s fellow prisoners was an architect, and he helped the men design floor plans for houses to build for their families when they got back home. Another man was a salesman for Wear-Ever aluminum cookware; he sold his fellow prisoners all pans. Somehow, all of his orders arrived right after the men got home! Glen ordered a griddle for his wife and a turkey roaster for his mother, and Edi still has them in her kitchen.

There were orders from Hitler to kill all the POW’s near the end of the war, but the camp leadership did not carry them out. In May 1945, the Russian army drew near Stalag Luft I, and one day the German guards simply left. They mayor of Barth, fearing the Allies, took his entire family into a bunker outside of town and committed suicide, killing his family too.

With the Germans gone, American and British Senior Officers took up command of the camp, and then the Russians came.

Glen finally wrote in his diary.

They tore the doors off the camp and said, ‘Go to town and have fun, boys.’ I didn’t go though, I just went and walked in the woods.

American troops soon came and Glen and his fellow prisoners were evacuated and flown to England. From there they returned to the United States. He flew to Minneapolis, and Kay took a bus to meet him there before they returned home to Meade County.

There they rented a place between their parents’ places and began ranching. That winter Glen and his brother made a trip back East River to buy ear corn to feed the sheep, and saw a place advertised for sale near his mother’s home town of Colton. Kay wasn’t too keen on leaving their families so far behind, but they made the move in 1946. For the first few years, Glen farmed with a team of horses. They also raised sheep and for many years fattened lambs that Glen’s dad shipped them.

Glen and Kay raised four children on the farm: Margaret (Mike Tramontina), Elaine (Scott Hendrickson),  Edith ‘Edi’ (Owen Holzbauer), and Joel (Carol). In 1969 Glen took a job with the Farmers’ Elevator in Colton, using his mechanical abilities to operate their mobile mill. He did this for about ten years before retiring. He also served on the Farmers’ Elevator Board, the local School Board and the church board of Colton United Methodist Church where he was a member.

Glen passed away in 1992. He was Commander of Legion Post 206, Colton, South Dakota. After his funeral one of his friends told Edi, “Oh, if I could only be half the man your dad was I would be happy.”

“There are two kinds of people,” Edi said. “Some go through hardships and are crushed by it. Others accept hardships as part of life and rise up stronger because of it. My parents were both so strong. I’m proud of my dad for his service to our country.”





[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) biography glen weiss meade county south dakota never forget world war ii veteran wwii Sat, 06 Feb 2021 00:19:38 GMT
The Gate of the Year


‘God Knows'

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

----Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908

[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) faith God's Will inspiration seeing beyond song for all seasons Working ranch images Wed, 02 Jan 2019 00:23:48 GMT
Rest In Jesus As the Preacher in Ecclesiastes noted, "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."  (Ec. 3:1) Lately in our small community it has seemed that the 'time to die' has come to many dear neighbors and friends. We've had a lot of funerals lately. Just last week we got the news that two dear ladies had gone to meet their Savior.  While it is certainly our joy that they are free from their sickness and pain and suffering, we also grieve with their family members.  May the God of all comfort strengthen your hearts.


Rest In Jesus, as a child would,

Safely in his father's arms,

He will hold you, He will keep you

In His mercy, safe from harm.

Rest in Jesus, soul be patient,

Wait on Him, be still, tired heart:

His grace for you is sufficient,

He'll empower your weakest part.

Rest in Jesus, oh the joy here!

He works what you cannot see;

Confident, then trust His promise:

"Where I am, there you shall be."

Rest in Jesus 'mid the struggle

Just to draw another breath:

As H raised up Jesus, surely

He will give you life through death.

Rest in Jesus, His the battle,

His the victory o'er the grave:

Death no more has power to harm you;

Jesus keeps you: Jesus saves.

Rest in Jesus, as a child would,

Safely in His father's arms;

He will hold you, He will keep you

In His mercy, safe from harm.

Copyright 2015 Ruth Wiechmann


[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) God's Will faith hymns hymnwriters inspiration seeing beyond song for all seasons trust Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:27:55 GMT
Jesus, Lover of my Soul Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide.
Oh, receive my soul at last!

Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on thee.
Leave, ah, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me!
All my trust on thee is stayed,
All my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of thy wing.

Wilt thou not regard my call,
Wilt thou not accept my prayer?
Lo, I sink, I faint, I fall;
Lo, on thee I cast my care;
Reach me out thy gracious hand!
While I of thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand,
Dying, and behold, I live!

Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in thee I find.
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is thy name;
I am all unrighteousness,
False and full of sin I am;
Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin.
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of thee;
Spring thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

---Charles Wesley

[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) Charles Wesley faith hymns hymnwriters inspiration song for all seasons Sun, 29 Jan 2017 20:20:50 GMT
A New Year Dawns New Year's Day 2017Happy New Year, Folks!

[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) Sun, 29 Jan 2017 20:14:07 GMT
Legacy of a Lifetime Legacy of a Lifetime

by Ruth Wiechmann

Originally Published in the Horse Edition of the Tri State Livestock News, 2013

1958. The American Quarter Horse Association was a fledgling organization, not yet in its twentieth year. Horses that today we consider legends in the breed were household names: Three Bars, Leo, King, Wimpy, Buck Hancock; their get and grandget were racing, cutting, ranching, setting records, and forming the foundation of the breed as we know it today.

In 1958, one of those legendary sires died. That horse was the great King P-234. Considered by many the archetypical quarter horse, King had and still has more influence on the quarter horse breed than most of his contemporaries. Owned for most of his life by Jess Hankins, King made a name for Hankins and his brothers by the colts he produced. King’s colts were stamped with his mark: with few exceptions they had type, conformation, athletic ability, cow sense, and golden dispositions. King P-234’s last colt crop was born in 1958.


Bernie Janssen grew up in Minnesota during the same years that King’s colts were making such a profound impression on the horsemen in the fledgling American Quarter Horse Association.

“I was always the ‘little guy,’” he said.

Sometimes being a smaller kid had its perks! When Bernie was in his teens, neighbor Kenneth Uden put him on a mare that he hauled around the area to match races. Shady Lady was black, and she was fast. Bernie loved it. Ken Uden introduced Bernie to registered Quarter Horses, and to King P-234 bred quarter horses, and it was love that would last for a lifetime. It was also love for a lifetime that blossomed between Bernie and Ken Uden’s niece Sherry. Bernie and Sherry married in 1959, shortly before Bernie left to serve in the U.S. Military.

In 1958, the young Minnesotan decided to start raising horses. He had spent two years in college, intending to become a Lutheran pastor, but after two years of studying, his love for horses won out. Bernie had never owned a registered Quarter Horse before, but from his experience growing up with Ken Uden’s horses, he knew what he wanted.

Bernie purchased his first two registered mares at R. L. Underwood’s dispersal sale in 1958. Underwood, president of the AQHA from 1944-46, was well known by the breeders of his day to have one of, if not the best bands of quarter horse mares in the early days of the registry. While other breeders raised horses to supply their ranch remudas, Underwood bred horses because they were his passion. His mares were considered to be the most uniform herd of mares in his day. It was from this herd that Bernie chose his first two mares. Little Chick and Calf Roper were both daughters of Underwood’s famed Golden Chief, and Bernie brought them home to Minnesota.


Bernie bred these first two mares to a King P-234 grandson, King Jacket. Owned at the time by Dr. Steinhauser, and standing in Mountain Lake, Minnesota, the palomino horse sired by L H Chock was also a grandson of Blackburn on his dam’s side. He had been shown in AQHA halter and performance classes, and won some money in NCHA competition. He also won the Grand Champion title cutting at the Minnesota State Fair under Steinhauser. Those first breedings to King Jacket both resulted in fillies. Bernie sold one, and kept the other; a cute palomino out of Calf Roper that he named Ropette. When Ropette came of age, Bernie bred her to a son of King named Dooley Slo Poke. She foaled a filly in 1962 while Bernie was stationed in France in the army, a filly named Kings Slo Jewel that Bernie trained to cut on the neighbor’s herd of cows as well as his own holsteins.

Bernie first showed her at a cutting in Walnut Grove, Minnesota in 1965. Together they took second place. Later he showed her at a cutting in Harlan IA, and the duo beat War Bond Leo, owned and ridden by Dave Martin. At the time, War Bond Leo was ranked the number one cutting horse in the nation! Martin was so impressed that he offered Bernie a breeding to War Bond Leo for the catty mare.

The years went by. Bernie added to his herd. He bred Leo horses, as well as the King line, but the King horses were always his favorites. When the Hankins brothers had their dispersal sale, Bernie hooked up a two horse trailer and drove to San Antonio, Texas.

He also added to his herd from the program of Keith Overstreet, a man from Leon, Iowa, who concentrated the blood of King P-234 son Easter King in his herd.

Some of the very best King mares Bernie ever bought came from the Creek Plantation in Georgia, owned by W. S. Morris, III. Claudia Miss and Top Joker Miss produced some of Bernie’s best, including Kings Black Widow, the mare that Bernie considers the best horse he has owned in his lifetime.

Bernie’s friend Dave Bishop, who lived near Rochester, owned a pretty black mare named Miss Poco Marybee that he hauled to Georgia, along with another mare, to breed to Continental King. Bernie happened to see Dave at a cutting. Dave mentioned that he had two stud colts in pasture sired by Continental King.

“What are you going to do with em’?” Bernie asked him.

“Well, I’m going to sell them,” was Dave’s reply. Bernie wanted to go take a look, but Dave was going to be out of town for a while.

Bernie laughed, remembering…

“I about went cuckoo, having to wait two weeks to go look at them!”

When things finally worked out, Bernie went over to take his pick. Both had so much potential! What would have been had he picked the other colt? He couldn’t afford to buy them both. After agonizing over the decision, he picked the colt he named Kings Poco Discount. The little fellow was a son of Continental King, out of a daughter of Poco Discount.

Kings Poco Discount, trained and shown by Bernie Janssen, won the reining at the Utah State Fair, and went on to sire two Upper Midwest Cutting Futurity winners.

Now Bernie needed some new blood to cross on his Kings Poco Discount daughters. Through the influence of Al Buchli, whom he’d met at the Hankins brothers’ sale, he decided to breed to a stallion in Canada, a double bred King P-234 stud named March King Breeze. He hauled two mares to Canada, and after some considerable hassle making trips back and foth across the Canadian border, ended up with two fillies. He was pleased with both, but he still didn’t have his stud prospect.

Hauling the mares up and back and dealing with crossing the border had been so inconvenient that Bernie asked March King Breeze’s owner to ship him some semen. This was in the early days of AI breeding, and the technique was not perfected as it is today. But it was worth a try. Bernie had his vet synchronize his mare, Kings Miss Purity. She cycled, the semen arrived, and it was no good. There was not much of a chance of getting the mare bred with it, but the vet said, “Well, so long as we have it, and the mare is ready, we may as well put it in her.” Somehow she conceived, and King Brown Legacy was born. Bernie had the perfect outcross for his Kings Poco Discount mares.

After Bernie rode Kings Black Widow to win the Upper Midwest Cutting Futurity in 1993, he had high hopes for other horses to show, but sometimes, as with all mice and men, the best laid plans fall apart.

A young daughter of Kings Poco Discount and Town Joker Miss he was preparing to show died suddenly, and for no apparent reason.

Then Kings Poco Discount died prematurely. Bernie had intended to show Kings Poco Discount’s fancy grullo son, Kings Poco Breeze, but when his sire died, he was turned out with mares instead of hauled to shows.

A few years later, Bernie was devastated again, when the handsome grullo horse somehow broke a leg and had to be put down.

By then, Bernie was starting to feel his age.

“We all get old,” he said.

2006 hit, the horse market crashed, the economy headed south, and Bernie’s mares stood in the pasture and did not get bred for three years. Things looked bleak.

In 2009, Bernie split the mares up, and turned two studs out: King Brown Legacy, and his young grullo maternal brother, Kings Pure Breeze. There would be another crop of King colts, but Bernie was looking for someone else to carry on the program. Several people expressed an interest, but each, for one reason or another, failed to make a deal.

The one bright spot on the horizon was Kings Breeze, a 2004 bay colt by King Brown Legacy and out of Bernie’s cutting mare, Kings Black Widow. Bernie had had James Pease, a young man from the neighboring town, start some horses for him over the years, and Bernie gave Breeze to James to start riding. James and Breeze hit it off.

“I don’t know if the man made the horse, or if the horse made the man,” Bernie says proudly. “It’s probably some of both.”

James started showing Kings Breeze in AQHA reining classes in 2009, and the bay colt was stellar. He didn’t always win, but he always did well. By the end of the year, he had earned his AQHA Performance Register of Merit, and he finished the year as the AQHA Region 2 Junior Reining Champion. 2011 again saw James and Breeze take top honors in the AQHA Region Two/SDQHA show when Kings Breeze won the Senior Reining Championship title.

Something still needed to be done with the mares at home in Minnesota. Over the years Bernie had gotten many lucrative offers from people wanting to buy his horses that he turned down. He could have sold them now. But when the time came for someone else to carry on the breeding program, money wasn’t the issue. The horses were the priority.

There are lots of other horses in the world, and even other King horses in the world, but in Bernie’s experience there were none that compared to this group of horses. Over the years Bernie had owned and ridden many horses, other King P-234 bred horses, and other horses of the popular AQHA bloodlines of the day. Most were good, some were better, but none could quite compare with the King lines he had used in the nucleus of his program. He used other horses in his program over the years, but they just weren’t quite as good as what he already had. Over time he had weeded the others all out. There was just something special about this little group of King mares. He wanted them to stay together.

So it came to be that the King mares came to South Dakota. In January of 2010, Bernie got a phone call from a lady looking for a King bred filly to start riding.

“You wouldn’t happen to want some broodmares, would you?” he asked.

After a few phone conversations, Bernie was convinced that this was the right place for the horses. In April, when the snow finally subsided enough to get trailers into the place, the King mares were hauled to Perkins County, South Dakota, and turned out in the pasture to foal.   Since 2010, Ben & Ruth Wiechmann have managed Bernie’s breeding program on their ranch, where they also raise commercial Angus and baldie cattle with the help of their five children.

Today Bernie’s legacy is carried on at Badger Hole Ranch. Mares and stallions that still have King P-234 on their papers graze on the prairie, and another batch of athletic, good minded, King bred colts is growing up.

“The Good Lord knew what He was doing,” Bernie told Sherry.

[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) Sun, 29 Jan 2017 20:11:46 GMT
Learning to Sing

"There are songs which can only be learned in the valley.  No art can teach them; no rules of voice can make them perfectly sung.  Their music is in the heart.  They are songs of memory, of personal experience.  They bring out their burden from the shadows of the past; they mount on the wings of yesterday.

St. John says that even in Heaven there will be a song that can only be fully sung by the sons of the earth---the strain of redemption.  Doubtless it is a song of triumph, a hymn of victory to the Christ who made us free.   But the sense of triumph must come from the memory of the chain. 

No angel, no archangel can sing it so sweetly as I can.  To sing it as I sing it, they must pass through my exile, and this they cannot do.  None can learn it but the children of the Cross.

And so, my soul, thou art receiving a music lesson from thy Father.  Thou art being educated for the choir invisible.  There are parts of the symphony that none can take but thee. 

There are chords too minor for the angels.  There may be heights in the symphony which are beyond the scale---heights which angels alone can reach; but there are depths which belong to thee, and can only be touched by thee. 

Thy Father is training thee for the part the angels cannot sing; and the school is sorrow.  I have heard many say that He sends sorrow to prove thee; nay, He sends sorrow to educate thee, to train thee for the choir invisible.

In the night He is preparing thy song.  In the valley He is tuning thy voice.  In the cloud He is deepening thy chords.  In the rain He is sweetening thy melody.  In the cold He is moulding thy expression.  In the transition from hope to fear He is perfecting thy lights.

Despise not thy school of sorrow, O my soul; it will give thee a unique part in the universal song."

Written by George Matheson, (1842-1906), the "Blind Preacher" of Scotland, author of "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go."


O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.


O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.


[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) God's Will faith hymns hymnwriters inspiration seeing beyond song for all seasons trust Wed, 01 Jun 2016 15:46:33 GMT
Spring has Sprung The grass is 'riz.  The tulips are poking up in my flower garden and I think we can plant potatoes this week if we can fire up the tiller.  The meadowlarks and robins are back, bringing their songs, and bringing the tantalizing challenge of getting close enough to take a photo of one singing his heart out on top of a fencepost without scaring him off! 

Happy Spring, folks!


[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) Mon, 21 Mar 2016 22:18:31 GMT
Beginnings Welcome to Unbridled Light!  I love to use my camera to capture the beauty of everyday, ordinary life on the ranch, and I am excited about the opportunity to share little bits of that beauty with the rest of the world. 

Check out my photos, and please give feedback on how the site works as well as the content. 

Again, welcome to Unbridled Light.

Thanks for visiting!

[email protected] (Badger Hole Ranch) Working ranch images horses wildflowers Wed, 17 Feb 2016 16:42:27 GMT