Silence Is Golden

In the last two weeks we've had two winter storms. The first brought cracked machine pumps, frozen water lines and busted pipes to our processing plant. The place felt like Santa's workshop with all the repairmen. The second storm was delivered on Christmas day and brought with it freezing rain, high wind gusts and busted power lines. During times like this it is difficult to see the beauty in winter. 

Christmas for many was postponed and those of us without power hunkered down. Dan and I lit candles at home and when the inside temperature dropped to 55°, we lit the stovetop to remove the chill from the air.

We dined on hot buffalo bone broth and washed it down with the last of the O’Brien Nog, to warm us from the inside out. We read with the aid of flashlights until the nog and the howling wind lulled us into a deep winter’s sleep.

Twelve hours later we woke to complete silence. No furnace moaning. No refrigerator running. No electronic gages humming. No wind howling. Just pure, heavy, silence.

Dan set out to check on Erney, the animals, and the road conditions while I set out to do my own exploring. Once the engine of the truck fades I am back in the silent bubble. Beautiful. Snow and ice have latched on to most everything.

Cobwebs have turned to lace and horse’s manes and eyelashes are adorned with ice crystals that reflect in their eyes as the sun pushes through the overcast sky.


Animal prints litter the snow and lead to hidden Alice In Wonderland like shelters decorated with dried, red berries.

The tracks eventually lead me to animals, who are out doing some of their own exploring and forging for needed calories.

It is so quiet. I can hear icicles falling from trees, hitting every branch on their way to the earth, filling the silence like a concert pianist striking every key, in a hall where you could hear a pin drop. Thong, thon, ton, ting, ing........... Magical.

The Black Hills rise up in the west, Purple Mountain Majesty above the bluish-white plains.

The Black hills

I stay out until my fingers can longer adjust the buttons on the camera. Back inside I snuggle up with a cup of hot tea and the cat on the sofa and think about how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to experience such a winter’s morning. I sip at my tea and start to unravel 2016 in my mind before the cat and I drift back to sleep in the golden silence. 

Wishing you peace (the kind a power outage without hardship can bring) and the very best of the New Year! Jill

P.S. If you haven’t yet purchased your Wild Idea Buffalo Calendar (loaded with photos and deals) now is the time! The first 50 orders will receive one free! Always a salesman. ;)



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  • A stunning visual trip made even more surreal by your descriptive words. I can almost feel the cold solitude of the Prairie. Thank you and many blessings in this coming year!

    Gail Stahlbaum
  • Jill and Dan, I was browsing and saw your blog!!! That is so beautiful, I can see your pastures and home just reading it. How is Jarvis?? I think thats how it is spelled! I haven’t seen you folks for a while, I hope all is well, and you have an awesome year in 2017!! My daughters have grown up and become beautiful lakota women, who respect themselves and their elders. I am very proud of their accomplishments. Well we hope to see you soon, take care!!! Nita, Brenna, Carrie, Emmi, and Scooter!!!

    Nita Bald Eagle
  • Your descriptive narrative and wondrous images tell a vivid tale. Having seen the property in the height of summer – the dry landscape burned in to my weary bod after an arduous hike – I have a tough time imagining a frozen scene despite the fact that my sensible side knows that SD has harsh winters. But your blog post draped a bright frozen cloak over my impressions, and my mind’s eye quickly saw the prairie anew. Not unlike my home state of Maine, hunkering down and getting comfortable in adverse conditions with no power is a way of life every now and then. Thank you for taking the time to put fingers-to-keys to document the contrast of stillness and energy the make up winter in SD.

  • Phenomenal. Stunning. Inspirational and ethereal. How proud I am, to be the mother of such an accomplished woman, of true artistry. Your photographs and narrative are a beautiful segue, from the passing to the new. Bravo!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your stories and beautiful photographs! I had been wondering how everyone was doing out there, especially my Dear friend Erney- I hope he is faring well! I just finished rereading Dan’s book “Rites of Passage” – your books help me stay connected to you and the beautiful land that you share so graciously. I am doing rehab after having my left knee replaced. The PT is going well and I hope to be able to come out to see you all in early spring. God Bless and good tidings for a Happy New Year.

    Your friend, “the rugged rock picker of the plains”, Jim

    Jim Peacock
  • Gorgeous photos. I am a new customer of yours and my wife and I as well as several friends are mighty impressed with the taste of your buffalo.

  • Simply full or beauty: beautiful.

    Thank you, again,


  • Happy New Year to you! Hope all the repairs are made and life on the ranch is flowing smoothly, or as smooth as it can during winter. Your pictures of the ranch are beautiful. Brings back memories of when I lived in the north-east. Wishing you all the best in 2017.

    Michael Boggia
  • Thank you for sharing the silence. Beautiful words and pictures.

    betty cooper
  • To all yall up there, a Happy New Year from all us down here! Another of God blessed fortune and content.

    Roxanne Fox
  • Thank you for your narrative and beautiful pictures. I was in SD for the October blizzard a couple of years ago, but was lucky enough to be staying in a place that did not loose power. The Black Hills are my favorite place in the world! Thanks again, and Happy New Year!

  • Thank you for this magic and beautiful mind journey
    Warm thought from west of France

  • Thank you – wonderful descriptions and photos. So different from the low county of SC. Hope everything gets repaired soon. We enjoyed buffalo stew around a campfire for winter solstice and I’ve given away frozen packets as presents. Just finished reading Wild Idea Buffalo & Family in a Difficult Land and will lend it to others. It was great. Happy New Year.

    Cheves Leland
  • Especially love the frosty tree with round snow flake!!!

    Jill kokesh
  • So enjoy your artistic ways, both written and photographically, of life on your land.
    It always touches me deep in my soul. Thank you and Happy New Year!!!!


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