One Tuff Cowboy!


Marvin (Tuff) Colyer
Marvin (Tuff) Colyer

One of my favorite people in this world is a cowboy named Tuff. Actually his name is Marvin. Tuff was a nickname given to him when he was younger. I was told he didn’t really like the name “Tuff.” I’ve tried to call him Marvin the last few years, but it just won’t roll off my tongue without being forced. He has always been Uncle Tuff to me, and he always will be.

Besides, tuff is what he really is, the name fits him. He is a cowboy, a buckaroo, born and raised in Three Creek, ,Idaho. He’s not one of those dime store types, he is the real deal. After he and my Aunt Leah were married, he worked on a couple of ranches in Idaho. They then moved to Nevada where he worked as a ranch hand and manager on several ranches; Hadley Ranch, Town Ranch, Red House, Carlin Field, and The Rancho Grande. He also worked for a few years in a gold mine in Carlin Nevada. He now owns his own small ranch in Filer, Id.

His love has always been horses, and I’m sure if he could, he would be sitting on one now. He was always breaking a new colt, or trading a horse. In fact, in one of those horse trades with my dad, we ended up with one of my favorite horses of all time. She was named Nevada, (of course!) He has been in numerous horse wrecks…as most real cowboys have. I know he broke his jaw in one of those wrecks and had to have his jaw wired shut. That had to be pretty trying for a cowboy who likes steak and potatoes! He has earned the name “Tuff!”

My husband, Mike, and I lived on the U-3 ranch in Wells, Nevada for several years. My dad, Jim Craig was managing the U-3 when we moved there. We shared many holiday celebrations with Uncle Tuff and Aunt Leah. Those are some of my best memories.

Uncle Tuff also came to most of the U-3 brandings over the years, and that is where Mike came to know, admire, and love him.

My uncle Tuff is tough in every way a man should be. He has survived many trials and tribulations in his life. He has always been the shoulder for his wife and children to lean on, and the courage and perseverance, they, and all who know him, look up to. The one thing about my Uncle Tuff, that is not tough, is his heart. Through all of life’s struggles, his heart has not hardened; it is soft, tender, and always loving.

When I hear the name, Tuff, or Marvin Colyer, I see an image in my mind. There is a man, like the Marlboro Man, for those who remember those old T.V. ads. He is dressed in a cowboy shirt, jeans, boots, chaps, and hat. He has a western scarf around his neck, not for style, but for protection from the elements. He wears leather gloves over calloused hands to protect him from cold weather and from rope burns. He sits on a top-notch cow horse with his rope ready to make a loop, and a good cow dog following alongside.

When he gets off that horse, he walks; a little bow-legged, spurs a-jingling, with a smile of contentment on a sun weathered face, knowing he is living the life he loves… the life of the American Cowboy.

I love you Uncle Tuff!


Sometimes It’s The Little Things

Ed, Odessa, and Patsy Craig

This is a picture of my grandparents, Ed and Odessa Craig, and my sister, Pat; Patsy as she was known back then.  This isn’t one of the best pictures of my grandparents, but I chose to share it because of some of the things I see in the background.

The first thing I noticed was Grandma’s dress.  It struck me that neither one of my Grandmas ever wore anything except dresses.  At least I can never remember them in anything else.  Perhaps it was just the era they grew up in.

The second thing I noticed was the doilies on the back of the couch and on the mantle.  Grandma loved to crochet.  She had doilies everywhere.  She also gave them as gifts to many people.  My mom had several from her.  Pat and I also ended up with some.  Some were simple and some were quite extravagant.  You don’t see doilies very often any more, but whenever I do see one, I instantly see my Grandma Odessa.

If you look next to Granddad, you will see a glass candy dish on the table.  I remember their candy dish.  It almost always had lemon drops in it.  I remember Granddad sucking on those lemon drops while he worked on the daily crossword puzzle from the newspaper; something he did almost every day, right up to his last days.  He died a few months after his 101st birthday!  His mind was always clear and sharp!

One other thing I noticed was what looks like roses in the vase on the mantle.  In this day and age, if you see roses, or flowers on the table or counter, you think…nice husband…must be her birthday, or anniversary.  How thoughtful of him!  I doubt that was the case here.  Not that Granddad was not thoughtful, I didn’t mean that.  It is just that Grandma always had such beautiful flowers.  I remember when we lived by them in California, what a breathtaking yard she had.  Flowers of every kind bordered her entire yard fence.  She was always outside watering with a garden hose, while butterflies and bees danced along with her.

It is funny, how sometimes it is the little things that stir up such warm memories!


Easter Memories

The Easter season fills me with memories from my childhood. I can remember like it was yesterday, the excitement I felt when we started the egg dying ritual. I can see clear drink glasses, each with different bright colored water. I can smell the vinegar that filled the kitchen.

We each colored our own eggs and put our names on one or two. It was a family ritual, not just us kids. I think that was what made it so much fun as a kid; to have Mom and Dad decorating eggs with us.

Easter morning we would wake up with Dad singing “Here comes Peter Cotton Tail, hopping down the bunny trail.” That is something Dad did until we left home. The rest of the morning found my sister and me racing around the house in a mad dash to out do each other. And of course there was that Easter Bunny who not only hid our eggs, but left us jelly beans and chocolate images of himself in our basket. Later Mom always made deviled eggs out of some for dinner. Nothing has changed. I watch my grand kids with the same excitement on the same mad dash!

I think as I watch them that time has stood still. Fifty plus years have passed between my excited face and theirs, yet I feel the same emotions flood me with such familiarity. I guess that is what tradition is. It is something that is done every year with such consistency that several generations down the road can share and relive the memories of loved ones long gone.

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a kid, I have to admit that it was the thrill of the hunt and the candy. In my teens I started appreciating the family gatherings. My young adult life found me just enjoying the innocent smile on my children’s faces.

It has taken me this long in life to fully appreciate what Easter is really all about…and it is not about a big bunny and the joy he brings to kids, both small and gray haired. (Yes, I still love that chocolate bunny!) It is about the Cross. It is about who was on it. It was what his suffering, humiliation, and death means to all mankind. It is hope, it is mercy, it is forgiveness, and it is love.

I am reposting this poem from 11-23-16img_1458-2



Four Generations

Ed Craig, Gran (Suzie) Halverson, Edna Craig holding Jim Craig
Ed Craig, Gran (Suzie) Halverson, Edna Craig holding Jim Craig 1926

This is a four generation picture.  But to me it is much more than that.  These are my ancestors.  It is a picture of my bloodline.  It is where I came from; my roots.

The baby in this picture is my father, Jim.  My grandfather Ed, is standing behind his mother Edna, my great-grandmother.  Her mother, my great, great-grandmother is also standing behind her.

I am so lucky in that I knew everyone in this picture except for my great, great-grandmother.  I love all these people.  They all had a part in making me who I am today.  Even Gran Halverson who I never knew, at least I don’t remember, shaped the people who shaped me.

Years have come and gone much to quickly, and now that baby, is the great-grandfather in another four generation picture.

Mindy Russell Young, Sherry Craig Russell, Logan Young, Dylan Young, Jim Craig, Colton Young 2013
Mindy Russell Young, Sherry Craig Russell, Logan Young, Dylan Young, Jim Craig, Colton Young 2013


Julio and me headed up the mountain with my husband Mike
Julio and me headed up the mountain with my husband Mike

Julio was a little pinto that our son Dustin bought when he was in high school.  He was a good solid, gentle, horse with a lot of stamina.  He loved to step out and could out-walk any horse we had.


Dustin went off to college and then to work, thus, Julio became my horse.  I loved him because he was small and easy to get on.  He also enjoyed going on rides as much as I did.

Julio was a good kid horse; sure-footed, gentle, never offered to buck or anything, but he was NOT a cow horse.  I think he was probably used as a trail horse, because that’s all he wanted to do.  He would not look at a cow, was hard-mouthed, and wouldn’t rein worth a darn!  He was fun to ride if it was just for pleasure, but if you actually had to work cows with him….I think I could have moved them better if I got off and pushed them up the mountain on foot!  However, I didn’t have his stamina and about three feet into the climb, I was done for.  I actually needed him!

Pushing cows up onto the forest was never easy.  It was a straight up climb.  The cows didn’t like that climb any better than I did when I was on foot.  They always cut back on us and we fought them the whole way.

That did not make an easy day riding Julio.  If a cow cut back, I had a hard time making Julio follow her.  He wanted to keep climbing; didn’t matter to him if a cow turned back.  Didn’t even matter to him if he passed all the cows on the trail!  He just wanted to get to the top.  He also did not like to get separated from the other horses, and if you took off after a cow, or someone alongside of you did, he wanted to go where the other horse went.  Needless to say, I quickly developed a love/hate relationship with that horse.  I loved to ride him if it was just for pleasure, but when we worked cows, by the end of the day I wanted to load him in the trailer and take him back to the sale yard!  There were even a couple of times I wanted to skip the trailer and go get the gun!

That all changed one day.  We were moving cows along a steep trail, when a cow broke off and went down the mountain.  Mike said he’d go get her, but I was right behind her so I said, “No, I can get her, I’ll be okay.”  Famous last words!
Julio and I meandered down to the bottom where the cow was.  There was a lot of fallen timber that I had no business riding through.  I should have gotten off and walked.  But Julio was sure-footed and gentle, so we just took our time.  We got the cow headed back up the trail, and then Julio started acting strange.  He kept striking his foot, put his head down, and was making weird snorting sounds.  I couldn’t pull his head up and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.  When I did finally pull up  his head, I saw the problem.  Bees!  We had walked into the middle of a nest of ground bees!

Julio’s nose was solid bees and after I pulled his head up, they were quickly solid from his nose and neck clear to the saddle.

Julio was in shock and I knew I was in deep trouble.  I couldn’t get Julio to move.  I figured he was going to blow up and here we were in all this downed timber.  Didn’t look good!  I started screaming up to Mike, “Bees, bees!”  He couldn’t understand me, but he knew something was wrong.  Just then his horse whinnied, and Julio heard him!  That’s all it took.  Julio was headed for the sound of that horse!  Of course the problem was he was going straight up; no side-winding, no caring about over hanging branches, or downed timber!  We went straight up!  All I could do was lay flat on the saddle and hope I didn’t get knocked off by a tree branch.

I had gloves on and kept swiping and mashing bees off him as fast as I could.  When we got to Mike and he saw the problem, he yanked me off the saddle and tossed me out-of-the-way, and went after the bees himself.  I’m not sure if he got them all, or they gave up and flew away.  Then Mike, in a panic, turned to me, but all I had was one bee sting!  Not so for poor Julio.  He was solid bee stings from his nose to the saddle.  You could not put your finger anywhere and find a space that had not been stung.  We figured he would die from anaphylactic  shock.  We were well over an hour from home, and there was nothing we could do but ride him as far as we could.

We made it back home and called the vet.  He said because of the length of time from the attack that there wasn’t really anything he could do.  He felt that if Julio had survived this long, he was probably going to be alright.  And he was.

If I had used common sense and got off and walked, I would have walked into those bees, not Julio.  I’m sure I would not have survived.  If I had been on any other horse, they would have blown up, bucked me, off and we both would have had broken bones and bodies, and the bees would have finished us off.

But I was not on foot, and Julio did not blow up or stumble over downed timber.  It was partly because of his hating to be separated from other horses, that when he heard Mike’s horse, Julio’s instinct drew him straight up that mountain.

Julio saved my life that day.  Although he would still frustrate me from time to time, from that day forward there was no more love/hate relationship…just love.












The Roaring Twenties


Ed and Odessa Craig   1925

I always loved old movies of the Roaring Twenties.  It looked like such a fun time to live.  I loved the dances, the clothes, the hair.

This picture is of my grandparents, Ed and Odessa Craig.   I love this picture, but it is not how I remember either one of them.  Granddad was a cowboy his whole life.  Grandma was a housewife.  She had a beautiful flower garden, loved crocheting, and always wore dresses.  I never saw her in a dress like this though!  She makes a pretty cute “flapper” doesn’t she?

Granddad loved to dance.  I was told he won a dance contest doing the Charleston.  I wish I could have been there!  I wonder if they were going to a dance when this picture was taken.

It is so fun seeing a glimpse of a “fun and sassy” side of people who always seemed so proper and dignified to me.

Following Through

I am at a place in my life where I feel God pushing me to try some new things.  I feel a “pressure” to start now.

Pressure is seldom a good feeling.  It can be uncomfortable.  I have a tendency to want to move to get out from under it.  I like my comfort zone.

Sometimes there is only one way to ease that pressure and that is to yield to it; let it pierce, prune, mold you until it has produced the change that was needed.

Looking at this series of pictures taken of my grandson, Dylan, I think I see exactly what God has been trying to get me to understand.

  1.  Take the ball in your hands
  2.  Take one step at a time; large strides will get you there quicker
  3.  Keep your eyes on your goal and take that flying leap of faith
  4.  Follow through

I have started taking one step at a time, but they have been baby steps.  I see I need to push harder; take larger strides, keep my eyes on my goals, trust God, and take that flying leap, and the last which has always been hard for me…follow through.

Thank you Dylan for your dedication to your sport and for your example.

The Good Old Days

Pat and Sherry Craig Bruneau, ID about 1953
Pat and Sherry Craig
Bruneau, ID about 1953

I don’t think of myself as having been born and raised in the “Good Old Days.”  That was my parents and grandparents generations, right?  They lived in the horse and buggy days, the “Little House on The Prairie” days.

My generation has always had all the conveniences of the modern age.  We’ve always had indoor plumbing, refrigerators, running water, and electricity.  We’ve always had modern washers and dryers, telephones, and TV.  That’s the way it seemed to me.

I ran across this picture of my sister Pat and I playing in this old wash tub in front of our house in Bruneau, ID.  I knew I could write a story or poem about that picture, so I called Dad to get a little history on it.

Guess what?  We were not playing, we were bathing!  In a tub like I used to wash my dog, Patches in as a teenager, we were bathing!  We had running water to the kitchen sink, but that was all.  Mom used to heat the water on the stove, and we bathed just like they did on…you guessed it, “Little House On The  Prairie”!

We did not have an indoor toilet. We used an out house.  Are you kidding me?  When I was a kid?  Mom did not have to use a wash board, thank God, but we did use a wringer washer.  I can actually remember that wringer washer quite well.  Dad said we had a great clothes dryer that never broke down once in all the years we had it.  It was called a clothes line.  Some of my fondest memories are helping Mom hang clothes on the line.  But in my mind, we did it because we liked the smell of fresh hung clothes; not because we didn’t have a dryer!

Dad went on to tell me that he didn’t think we had a telephone until after we left Bruneau.  I would have been about five years old.  Our family was one of the first in the Bruneau Valley to have a TV.  I looked it up on the internet, and Idaho did not have its first TV station until 1953.  I was only two, but I thought TV was around a lot longer than that!

Dad said there were gravel roads from Bruneau to Mountain Home.  He said he can remember thinking he would never see those roads paved in his lifetime.  But they are, and have been for many years.

I wrote a poem for my grandfather, Ed Craig’s 100th birthday, entitled “Centennial Man.”  I told of all the inventions he saw in his lifetime.  I told of all the changes in the way people lived back then to what they are today.  But I guess I didn’t see until now, that over half of his lifetime, is my lifetime!

So, here’s a word of warning when you look at pictures of your childhood.  Don’t ask too many questions about them, or you might find out that you did indeed, live “In the Good Old Days!”

Beloved, Billy The Kid

Jim Craig, Rosalie and Shirley Hawes, Bruneau, ID
Grandson Colton on Daisy the goat

This first picture is of my dad, Jim Craig, and Rosalie and Shirley Hawes.  The second is of my grandson Colton riding a goat.  I can’t find a picture of the actual goat this story is about.  His name was Billy The Kid.  That was a good name for him because as it turned out he was a little bit of an outlaw!

The following story was published in The Western Ag Reporter several years ago in my column I had with them called Backhome.

Beloved Billy

I can remember the day so clearly when Billy came to live with us.  Our children, Dustin, Holly, and Mindy were 9 ,6, and 3 years of age.  We were visiting my parents.  As we were walking up the steps, in front of all 3 kids, my Dad told me and Mike that he had a surprise for the grandkids; another “little kid.”  Then he brought this little goat around the corner.

I could see my husband’s eyes saying, “No way in —-!”  But his mouth just said, “Gee, thanks, Jim!”  The kids were jumping up and down and loving on that little goat like he was the most amazing thing they had ever seen.

Billy came home with us that day.  I have to admit that even I thought he was adorable.  I envisioned Mike building a little goat cart for Billy to pull the kids around in.  He was going to be so much fun!

Fun?  Well,……memorable   may be a better word description for Billy.  Mike had a few descriptive names for Billy that I can not share.  He never saw his charm.  It took the rest of us a little longer.

Mindy, our youngest, had a special bond with Billy.  No matter what Billy did, no matter how many times Dad threatened to take him to the sale yard, she would defend him and plea his case.  When we first got him, she was just barely three.  Billy seemed to sense how small she was and was never really rough with her.  But every time he saw her, he would drop his head, and give her a little butt, just enough to make her lose her balance.  She would get up mad, and scold Billy.  He would stand there a minute and take it, then cock his head from side to side, as if to say, “Ah, you know I love you!” and then bounce off.

Billy had a tremendous appetite.  He liked anything; my flowers, my garden, the kids’ homework, the leaves off the lilac trees, the clothes on the line.  He ate anything and everything!  But Mindy continued to defend him.  On her fifth birthday we got her a blue bike.  It had a white basket with pretty plastic flowers.  She loved that bike.  One day she came outside to see Billy eating the last of her plastic flowers.  She was ready to help load him in the trailer!

We had a dinner bell by the front door.  I was busy in my sewing room and the kids were all out in the yard playing.  I heard the bell and came to the door and no one was there.  I went back into the sewing room and the bell rang again.  I opened the door and no one was around.  The third time, I’d had enough.  I crouched down by the office window waiting to catch my trouble maker, and here came Billy on a dead run!  He jumped up on the steps, grabbed the bell string in his mouth, rang the bell, and then jumped off the step and around the corner!

Another time I answered the door and a neighbor man was there to see Mike.  Billy ran through the opened door, about knocking him down, stopped right in front of him, pooped on my floor, and ran back out.  The neighbor looked up at me and smiled, and said “Good trick!”  He laughed.    I didn’t.

One day we were going to town.  We walked out to the car and there was Billy doing a little jig on the car hood!  That was the day Billy went to the sale yard.  Mike had won.

Although I can’t find a picture of Billy, this picture of Colton riding his goat, and Dad with his little goat and cart, and any picture I see of a goat, always brings back memories of our Beloved Billy.


Gran And Ed Holverson

Gran (Susie), Charles (Ed) Holverson with grandson, Ed Craig 1909

This picture is of my great- great-grandmother, and great-great- step-grandfather Holverson.  The baby in the picture is my grandfather, Ed Craig.

Charles E., (Ed) Holverson, left Missouri, and came to the Bruneau Valley, Bruneau, ID in 1881 at the age of 21.

In 1889 Ed married Mrs. M.C. Thompson; Susie. She was a widow who had three children, all girls.  Their names were Effie, Edna, and Lillie, who drowned.  Edna was my great-grandmother who I always knew as Granny.  I never even knew I had a great Aunt Lillie until I asked my Dad for a little history on Susie and Ed Holverson.

If any family members or older Bruneau people would happen to have a picture of Lillie Thompson, I would love to have a copy.

Susie and Ed Holverson homesteaded 40 acres east of town.  They first raised cattle, and then sheep.  This is the homestead I always knew as the “Craig homestead.”

Susie was always called “Gran Holverson” by her grandchildren.  The notation on the back of this picture refered to her as “Missouri Susie.”  I am assuming that was a nickname given to her by Ed who came from Missouri, but I’m not sure of that.  I also am assuming that my grandfather Ed Craig, was named after Ed Holverson, but I am not sure of that either.

I love these glimpses into my family’s  history.  I wish I could have known my great-great- grandparents and knew a little more about them.  I wish I knew what their personalities were like, what things they experienced in their lives, whether they liked dancing, or what hobbies they enjoyed.

If any family, or family friends have any memories of these people, please share them in the comment section.  Thank you so much.