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My wonderful Dad had wavy red hair and a million freckles. As a little girl, I was fascinated with the speckled patterns they made on his skin; just one more thing that made him special. Memories of Dad resurfaced today.

Ever faithful to protect our Flint Hills grasslands we rotate our herd on a regular schedule. Miles of fence and a multitude of gates accomplish this goal.

We keep a close watch on the cattle. It’s common knowledge that after a three day downpour or a melt-off from a heavy snow the ranch hands will be tied up working on machinery in a warm barn. Wives are “invited” to assist at those times. Today was no exception. My Stetson Darlin’ and I headed out. As the passenger, the unwritten country rule book designates is the one in charge of opening and closing all gates.

Fashionably attired in muck boots and Carhartts, my duties allowed passage into each pasture. The biggest challenge of the day was mud....heavy, gloppy, deep mud. With each stop my boots picked up a new layer. It clung like thick frosting on a cake. In addition, there were cow patties to dodge. It only takes one miss step to fill the pick-up cab with the fragrance of real country.

It proved to be a good day. The correct number of critters was found in each pasture. No injuries were detected and the overall herd health was good, so it was time to head back to headquarters.

Normal muck boot de-mudding is performed once it has dried. The procedure consists of tightly grasping the inside top of each boot and firmly slapping them together. Today, however, I decided to attempt a partial de-mudding while they were still wet. My Carhartts were ready for the washing machine anyway, so what the heck. I found a grassy spot, pulled my boots off, and sent mud flying.

During the drive back to headquarters my Stetson Darlin’ kept smiling at me. I felt sure it was because I’d been such a fantastic helper all day. We were greeted by the welcoming aroma of beef stew simmering in the kitchen. I had hurriedly chopped fixins’ and filled the slow cooker before we left that morning. Clever me!

I peeled off my chore attire and headed to the shower. That’s when I discovered the real reason for all the grins while we drove back. The bathroom mirror revealed a mass of tiny mud speckles all over my face. I had Freckles - just like my beloved Dad.

That memory will forever remain in my heart.

-Kathy Hogue


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11345 SW Hwy K-4
Topeka, Kansas 66614

Flint Hills Division

26889 Trail Drive Rd
Alma, Kansas 66401