A Deer In the Headlights…

Cattle outnumber people in the state of Nebraska by a ratio of just under 4:1.  We share our great Cornhusker State with a healthy population of deer who reside amidst the 1800 miles of river ground within our boarders.



Life on a farm leads to many miles traveled on gravel roads. Learning to drive where the pavement ends initially provided a bit of a learning curve for me, and I remember my favorite farmer giving me driving advice as I adjusted to life on the prairie. After two decades and hundreds of thousands of miles, I recently got to put his what to do when a deer jumps out on the road in front of your vehicle advice to good use…

  • Slow down as much as possible without losing control of the vehicle. 
  • Stay in the middle of the gravel road where the traction is the most consistent.
  • Hold the steering wheel with two hands and drive STRAIGHT.  Do NOT SWERVE.

 Natural human intuition often leads to swerving to avoid the collision.  Swerving results in losing tire traction on the uneven gravel and crashing the vehicle into the ditch.  It is preferable to take the deer head on which allows you to better remain in control with a solid driving surface.

It was pitch black dark the morning that a doe mule deer decided to cross the road in front of my vehicle.  The look she gave me reflected her lack of foresight and thought, but I am glad to report that I had enough to cover both of us.  I followed my favorite farmer’s advice to a T, and all ended well.

anne-ag-meg-treeAs I recounted the experience of saving both myself and the deer to my girls, I took the opportunity to turn it into a teaching moment.

  • PAY ATTENTION to the world around you.
  • TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for both your actions and the situation at large.
  • DON’T BE AFRAID to face things head on.

 Of course, the girls expressed great excitement toward their spontaneous life lesson opportunity with Mama. Now, if I can just get them to consistently wear socks and coats during the winter weather; they might be ready to go off to college in a year or two 😉

Like many of you, we reconnected with family and friends over the holiday season.  In my case, many of these awesome people lead unique lives in places vastly different than my farm on the prairie.  While I deal with deer before dawn on gravel roads dressed in blue jeans and boots, they deal with rush hour traffic while dressed in business suits.

Taking the time to appreciate the diversity in others allows our own lives to take on a new depth of meaning. In doing this, we are able to shed that deer in the headlights look and actively embrace the similarities that exist in our hearts.

**P.S. I am open to any and all advice as to how to convince my teenage daughters that physical care and comfort should come ahead of fashion.  Please leave thoughts in the comment section 🙂 —Thank you, Anne




Filed under Family, Farming, General

10 responses to “A Deer In the Headlights…

  1. Kevin Lindly

    While I have no thoughts to help you with your daughters staying comfortable, I have driven a school bus for the last (almost 24 years) and it never ceases to amaze me the number of riders who will wear shorts and a t-shirt without a coat this time of the year. My Dad always said that you should have enough clothes with you to survive overnight if your vehicle should break down. I know that almost everyone has a cell phone these days but you still hear about people having an accident off the road and not being found for many hours.

    • I bet that you have many, many stories to tell Kevin! Thank you for your service — as both a mom and a coach, I can tell you that I believe that our school bus drivers are the “unsung heroes” of our communities. Thank you for working hard to keep our kids safe.

      We have a rule in our house that you can’t leave home without a coat. What boggles my mind is that my favorite farmer and I have to police that rule on a daily basis…My girls are smart kids, but this fashion vs practical warmth thing is a ridiculously huge deal!

      We keep extra stocking caps, gloves, and warm weather gear in our vehicles to protect against the breakdown/accident scenario. I just wish that I could figure out how to get my girls to be more practical in their thinking…I tell them that they can’t go off to college until they can prove to me that they can dress appropriately without me harassing them about it — I think sometimes they think I am joking, but I am completely serious!

      Thanks for the note — Your dad is right.

  2. Dawn

    yes, here in Maryland the kids wear shorts and flip flops in the dead of winter. I just shake my head, cause I know my mother would have never let me leave the house. Thankfully, I didn’t have to deal with that dress code as my boys don’t even own flip flops and I am not sure they own any shorts either. Strictly jeans and boots and Carhardts.
    One did, however, toss a deer off the hood of his car as a teenager. No personal injury though.
    And I agree with Kevin, when the kids were little I had extra clothes, coats, scarves, mittens, blankets and snacks like crackers and juice boxes at ALL times in the car.

    • Yes! All good thoughts, Dawn. Emergency supplies are critical. It sounds like your boys are more practical than my girls who seem to draw a line between “work” and “school” attire…

      I was glad that both the deer and I got off without a scratch — fortunate that I was paying close attention to the road/road periphery and driving slowly enough that I could deal with the challenge effectively. Glad to hear that your son got through his deer challenge without harm.

      It is always good to hear from you. I hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday season!


  3. Julie

    I would love ideas on how to get my 15 year old daughter to dress for the weather. A hoodie is not a coat! She was upset this morning that we made her carry her coat into the school so that she’d have it this afternoon on the bus when they head out for their basketball game. It’s Nebraska in January…of course you need a coat with you!

    She has, however, successfully dealt with a deer running out in front of her. No swerving and no injury to deer or truck. At least something is getting through to her!

    • “A hoodie is not a coat” — Yes! We have that same argument at our house…Good luck at basketball tonight. My favorite blonde cowgirl also has a game — #2 of 4 games for the week — so we head to North Platte later this afternoon. Safe travels to everyone as the roads are mostly clear but not great.

      The snow that I was hoping would hold off found us this week. It’s beautiful and white outside right now, but it’s COLD!

      If you find any magic tricks that work with your daughter, please pass them my way…Until then, stay consistent and maybe one day they will figure it out 🙂


  4. theranchwifechronicles

    I can’t help you on the teenage daughter thing. I am more than willing to wear my freshly washed (or hopefully clean) snow pants to make a quick trip to town. Going to get groceries or feeding cows, I’m bundled up like an Eskimo!

    Between the snow and cold temperatures we have had a great influx of deer. They seem to enjoy ground hay and modified distillers. J built a bunker out of old hay two bales high and 7 bales around to keep them out. Our first attempt of placing free standing panels around the pile didn’t slow them a bit. I do my best not to spill any corn while I’m filling buckets in the morning and I scoop up as much of the corn as I can. Of the kernels I miss, there is never evidence on the ground come morning.

    Best To You!

  5. della

    Here’s my little survival kit that gets carried in the car: metal coffee can with plastic lid, small 3″ votive candles, matches, granola bars. Keep this all in the closed tin. The lit candle in the can (sans plastic lid and granola bars) can warm up the inside of a car if stranded.

  6. Congratulations on joining the 1% that raises food for a living! I too left a world of financial security, corporate world travel and after 25 years in the food business came full circle as a rancher. My second husband dragged me kicking and screaming into ranch life Ha Ha and I have never looked back! It is an amazing life but one of hard work and risk but the gratification of caring for animals far outweighs the toil. We work everything on horseback so I learned to ride and doctor cattle in my forties. Out of my journey came my memoir; The Princess Rancher, which was released by my publisher last fall on Amazon and Barnes and Noble which tells our real life struggle to build a cattle business six years ago from the ground up. I too would like to put a human face on the business and I blog about the heart-warming, funny side of life working with my husband at http://www.princessrancher.com
    Good luck – I am proud to be a part of this business, the people are amazing and it is a great way to raise children. Have fun and I wish you all of the best and a prosperous 2017! Kelly Williams/Painted Horse Ranch & Cattle Co.
    Lexington, VA

  7. Rex Peterson

    Anne, I learned and tell my kids, if you see one deer, slow down and find the rest of them. Especially in wintertime when they bunch up..

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