Spring in My Step! (But Watch Where You’re Walking!)

A wheel changes everything….

First, I am in love with historic farming and ranching stuff…

And spinning wheels.

And mills….

I love seeing the ingenuity that went into these early machines before the Industrial Revolution went BERSERK and changed the face of the world as we know it with manufacturing, mass production, electricity, light bulbs and trains… Oh mylanta, that was a busy century!!! And the next one? The one we just packed away?

Pretty busy, too!!!

My upcoming contemporary Western series for Love Inspired is set in Idaho… because I love Northern cowboys and the world has so many of them thar Texas cowboys… So I like to give my northern folk a shout-out… a chance to show what it’s like to deal with animals and births and deaths all four seasons because the rigors of a ranch winter are pretty rugged.  The first book comes out mid-July:  “Her Cowboy Reunion”. This series is all about what happens when three Steel Magnolias inherit 75% of a mega ranch in Western Idaho… while the oldest sister’s first love owns the other 25%. It’s a perfect set up for a poignant reunion romance…. one that I love!

And then we follow this up with a surprise Christmas novella with my friend Linda Goodnight… and who wouldn’t want to work with Goodnight? She’s totally adorable which does not stop me from making fun of her… That Western  novella (also part of the Shepherd’s Crossing series) hits the shelves in mid-late November…. and then the second sister’s story is being released in February 2019… And that gets us off and running with “Shepherd’s Crossing”!

I’ve probably mentioned this before, the  “Last American Cowboy” series, a look inside three Montana ranches… I’ve used this video presentation for some background research (and I use Mary Connealy and her cowboy husband for research, too, because life in Nebraska with cows is pretty close to what I’m playing with… sans a mountain or two!)


No matter what the season, Cowboy church and Western faith have always drawn me…

But now we’ve got the hope of spring. Around here the hope of spring means one thing. Mud.

A lot of mud.

And mud with big animals becomes, well… mud and cow manure. Or mud and horse manure. And if fields get too wet, animals can ingest nasty little bugs or worms that make them sick…. but while you might get a mention of this in a book, you won’t get too much of the details because there is little romance in smelly mud!

Writers sometimes have to gloss over the down-and-dirty parts of farm and ranch life because they’re not reader-friendly, and that’s okay… but then we have to make sure that we keep the rest of life “real” with asides to the problems of weather and seasonal change, and we can do that with calves getting caught up in mud and needing a rescue.

Cue the hero or heroine!

Or kids tripping and falling into mud and needing a complete hosing… before the bath. 🙂

Authors love dogs!!!

Dogs are great at demonstrating the changing conditions of weather and ground conditions… a wet dog that shakes and soaks people nearby… The smell of wet dog…. a snow-covered dog, or a dog (like mine!) that gets little snowballs along the feathery hairs on her legs… a hot dog, slumped in the shade and unmoving in the heat of summer could be the same muddy dog that won’t be allowed in the house before he gets the hose… Not too many ranch dogs are carted to the dog wash in the suburbs.  Making the elements and setting fit the story… and the genre… is part of my job. And you know I love my job!

I’ve got a shameless plug coming below for my current Love Inspired, but right now we’re talking the essence of seasons and how that gets woven through your stories without just stating the season…

The dog barometer and the cattle and horse barometers are really good at this.  Kids, too… kids in shorts with dirt-smeared sweaty faces… whiny kids…. cooped up kids…. So many ways you can show the perils of the season via activity… or slop.

But I don’t like to linger too long in the “slop” unless it’s something causing grave harm to the farm or ranch and in that case…

The mud sometimes takes center stage.

Right now I’ve got this absolutely beautiful Love Inspired story in stores and online. It’s a great story of a mother’s sacrificial love and God’s perfect timing…. And while I’m chompin’ at the bit for that next Western,. I gotta confess… I am over-the-moon in love with this sweet story set in the hills and lakes of Western New York… 🙂 

So how do you battle or slog through the muddy times of life? Do you bear up? Or want to lash out irrationally? And aren’t we so blessed to have washers and dryers???? Tell us about your taxing season… and it can be emotional, physical or just a pain in the part that sits the saddle… What do you do to make it work?

 “Her Secret Daughter Link to Amazon”

Her Secret Daughter, a story ripped from the headlines before there were headlines.


Josie Gallagher has plenty of reasons to be wary of Jacob Weatherly—considering he’s working for the hotel chain that’s forcing her restaurant to close. But when he shows up there with a little girl by his side—her little girl—she’s dismayed. How has this bachelor wound up with custody of the baby Josie placed with a married couple six years ago? The handsome hotel executive has no idea that Addie is Josie’s biological child, and Josie can’t afford to tell him. As he helps save her business, Josie and Jacob unexpectedly grow closer. But will her secret stand in the way of their happily-ever-after?


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25 thoughts on “Spring in My Step! (But Watch Where You’re Walking!)”

  1. Having worked in an office environment until I retired, my last office change gave me the opportunity to let my new boss in on my environmental requirements, thermal that is. I told him I work best between 68 and 72 degrees. At 74, I start to complain, but still working. At 76, I am mostly complainig, not working so much any more. At 80, no complaints, no work either, I went home where it is cooler. This works for any season for me.

    • I’m laughing at that, but it’s true for me, too. I have to fight to be productive at 80 degrees and up. And I WHINE!!! What a big baby I am!!!!


      Glad I’m not the only one who likes the cool side of life!

  2. The intro to this blog made me sad because it reminded me of the old farming tools we had on a wall in one of the offices at our last feedlot. When we sold the feedlot not taking down the tools from the wall, along with various cowhides on walls became part of the negotiations. There were a few of them that belonged to family from way back when. I’ve often wished I had my grandfather’s manual garden plow still.

    • I did that with my grandmother’s rock garden rocks… So I know exactly how you feel. I could have dismantled that garden, moved the big rocks and finished the garden off without them and the new owner wouldn’t have known a thing… but I didn’t. I have replacement ones now, same style, but that’s because I didn’t make sure the others were tucked away… but these are from my mother-in-law, so that’s not a bad thing! They’re still family rocks. 🙂

      It’s the memory and the hard work that goes into these things that we love and respect. Not the object itself… the industry and love.

  3. I love visiting old working farms set up for students and others. I once took my students to one. It was eye opening.

    • We’ve got the Genesee Country Village and Museum about 45 minutes from us and I dragged my kids there regularly… and then one got married there. It was beautiful….

      I love imagining how courageous and strong those people had to be. A ruggedness that most of us have misplaced.

      I’d love to see new generations re-grasp it, but if there’s never hardship and hard work, how do you develop it?

      A conundrum, Debra!!!

  4. When hard times hit here, I usually get very angry and moody and don’t want to be around anyone, not even my husband. He knows to stay away until I cool down. And cooling down might take several days.

    • A smart man affords his wife a wide berth! Funny how we forget to do the same things for husbands, sometimes…. I’m not a sulker.

      I get mad, then I restrategize…. and it’s like the best thrust forward, not in anger, but just that decision to get it right or make things right as best I can.

      I have been referred to as Hurricane Ruthy, Janine… and this can be taken in MANY WAYS, LOL!

  5. Well good morning Ruthy, good to see you in a different venue. It’s mud season right now in New Hampshire and that’s probably fairly similar to Upsate. I just mopped the floors and, sigh, I know they’ll get dirty again right away. I don’t have a “least favorite” season, although this past winter put winter in the running. It was An Ordeal. But hello, first day of March, if you can make it to March you can do anything.
    I don’t do a lot with manure in my stories. (HOW did we get on this topic? And HOW did you get this out of me?) I did do something in my Oregon Trail story, when Caroline first realizes she’s going to have to burn buffalo chips. It’s the last straw for her — or, er, “chip.” WSe can’t omit the details of real life, but they should be relevant.
    I have “Her Secret Daughter” and liked it. Will post a review by the weekend, probably on Amazon.
    Off to do stuff,
    Kathy Bailey

    • I like giving enough reality to make it or keep it real, but not get bogged down in mud, horrible weather, poverty, etc. without some kind of light at the end of a tunnel. I think that light of Christ is such a perfect motivator and as humans we’re drawn to light… so light, whether it’s in a painting or a story or on a cold winter’s night or a stable… a little light makes everything more bearable.

      I think that’s an author’s job… to be real, but offer the light, growing brighter… and sometimes disappearing.

      That’s when the tissues come out!

  6. Well it is a muddy mess right now here and everytime I mop my kitchen floor my cat will come in and leave little muddy prints all over the floor. I don’t like the cold weather but love the cool spring days when we have them.

    • Isn’t that the truth???? I have a big crate lined with a big blanket for the dogs, just to get the mud off their legs, feet…. Snow is easier, and we’re about to get hammered overnight (so they say…) But this whole week was a mud-fest!

  7. One of the interesting things about Western Idaho is they pronounce Genesee differently from New Yorkers. The emphasis is on the “Gen” instead of the “see”. Having worked in Mt.Morris,NY, one summer I’ve had a hard time adjusting to this Northwest version of “Genesee”. However it’s pronounced it’s beautiful in both states. In Idaho it’s in the rolling hills of the Palouse close to the mountains.

    We’ve had mud all winter. No way to keep the floors clean where we come into the house. Unfortunately no matter how much straw we dump in pens they are still a mess and a worry for animal health.

    • Alice, I wouldn’t have known that!

      My Wishing Bridge series (and the fictional town) is inspired by Mt. Morris/Perry/Wyoming in Wyoming County… Isn’t it so pretty?????

      And we pronounce a lot of things a little odd here… “Chili” (CHI-LIE) Charlotte (Shar-LOT) Batavia (Ba-Tave-ya) When Walmart put a super store there, they did opening day radio spots and said “Now in BOTTAVEEA!!” Instead of Ba-Tave-Ya

      Like a new Italian hideaway, LOL!

      “Opening today on BOTTAVEEA!!!”

      So funny.

  8. Ruth,
    I started “Her Secret Daughter” yesterday and am enjoying it. Lovely characters and a tough situation. I am a fan of Westerns, but that part of the country is lovely and good strong people can be found everywhere. I look forward to finishing the book and sharing it with my daughter.

    • Patricia, I hope you love that sweet book! I love Westerns, too… and I’m delighted with people’s reactions to my Westerns, but I love these small towns, too!!! And my Martha’s Vineyard mysteries… I also find that writing in different settings has sharpened my visuals and how to set them without wasting too many words… working for Love Inspired has been a huge help for that!

      I’m glad you’re enjoying “Her Secret Daughter”!!!

    • Oh, I agree…. old farms… old barns… old equipment. Just seeing it makes my mind work back to seeing those times. Those jobs. Those efforts.

      I feel like a slug by comparison!

  9. I spent one summer on my Scottish friend’s farm in the Orkney Islands, and my most vivid memories are of the fun we had despite unimaginable amounts of mud, threatening to go past the top our tall rubber boots at times. Then there’s the time she and I were back in the wagon with the hay when her husband on the tractor took off so that all the mud on the giant tractor wheels would fly back on us! That surely was a hosing down time!

    Winter is my “muddy” time of the year, not because of what is tracked into the house, but because of the lack of bright sunny days. So many gray, overcast days in a row can have an untoward effect on me. If I can’t shake it off, I take a nap, perhaps like a bear in winter.

    • I think there is a direct link between sleepiness and shortened, cold, gray days and hibernation for humans!

      I’m not affected by it, but I know so many who are, and it’s hard for them to slog through those months.

      Eliza, where do you live?

      • Hi Ruth,

        I’m in the Northeast in the midst of getting one whale of a Nor-easter right now! One minute our property looked liked a flood zone, and then within minutes we had a full-on snow storm coming down inches at a time, along with our houselights flickering! Just to keep it fun, if the electric goes out, our basement will flood. Nuthin’ to do but sleep ‘er out and then deal with the fallout afterwards. Sigh…

  10. I’ve always thought ranchers and farmers are some of the hardest working people. You have to love what your doing when you have all that work day after day. But I did have my own hard working days when my seven children were little. lol Now I’m a grandma and the winter months are my least favorites. The overcast and gray skies take their toll. I suffer from SAD. The lack of sunlight drains you of energy. Not to mention how it affects your mood. But Spring is my favorite.

  11. Hi Ruthy, I’m a little late getting here. You mentioned mud and boy, do we have it here in Kentucky right now. I don’t know how many times in the last few days thay I’ve expressed just how glad I am that we aren’t milking cows right now. For over 30 years we had a dairy and it wasn’t one that you see in documentaries or slick magazine ads. Not a lot of concrete. Our cows went out to pasture or to the silo walking on the earth so if it rained a lot they walked on, or should I say, in mud. I don’t know how many boots I’ve stepped out of and sometimes completely lost! And trying to clean their udders and tests—-Ugh! So, yes, I’ve experienced many of those muddy seasons and as frustrating as they were, they were better than having a mind muddied with doubt or worry!
    Blessings to you!

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