The Kitchen Table with Nelseena Lehmann

I am amazed at the number of younger women who can’t cook or don’t, so they have lost the significance of the kitchen and expanded, the round table parallels of a kitchen table.

My sister has a sign in her house that says, “I have a kitchen because it came with the house.” She and I approach the kitchen with completely different perspectives. I love to cook and have my family and friends all around me. I find that cooking is one of my love languages. It is certainly a language for my sister too, more of a psuedo profanity. Love you Laurie.

My kitchen, like my grandmother’s and my mother’s and all the neighbors who I grew up around is the center of attention. In the house we just remodeled, my kitchen island is 6′ x 8′. It holds the sink on the west side, but the east side is arranged for a places for everyone to sit and have coffee, or a meal, or do paperwork from the truck, register dogs, coffee shop, horses, cows, whatever manner of disaster faces us this day, that is where it is tackled face to face is the kitchen “table” island.

My contractor asked me how large I wanted my kitchen island to finish. I told him if necessary, I wanted a space to be able to do an autopsy on a horse. Lighting may be an issue was his response. I love it. Perspectives…

Growing up on the ranch in Montana, the kitchen table is where we prayed before a meal. That’s where lost loved ones were memorialized; that’s where we played cards to the wee hours of the morning waiting for a heifer to calve. That’s where we passed the time waiting for a brand inspector, or a veterinarian, or the horse shoer or the bull racks. That’s where Dad cleaned his guns or the vaccine syringes. That where mom put the wire racks to hold whatever matter of goodness she was fishing out of the oven, bread or cookies or even a roast. During the holidays, that’s where Grandma’s apple dumplings would land.

My Aunt Dianne’s kitchen was beautiful. As a kid, I remember there being a huge window that looked out to the creek and the cottonwood trees. There were plants in the window and beautiful cabinets of knotty pine, but the kitchen table was definitely the focal point of the room.

My friends in Frankston, Texas have this beautiful long table that was built for their family. They can seat the whole family at the table and have all the fixings for the holiday and it always gives me such joy to see a photo of that table all surrounded by the wonderful tribe that is the Atwood family.

The kitchen table was where copious amounts of coffee and ice tea were consumed and the perils of the day like economy, administration and the price of gas were cussed and discussed. The optimism of the markets when there was such a thing were also talked about. I remember there being a table full of men after we shipped or some such task and they were snacking and drinking and talking about the tragedy of the Waco, Texas event.

We fought, my siblings and I, over who had to set the table and help clean up after meals. Hours of homework were confronted at that table. Mom would cut out patterns for Dad’s shirts and where the canned goods sat to cool while we listened for the pop of the lids sealing before being carted off to the cellar.

Undoubtedly, conversations which bore the most meaningful facts were mulled over at that table. The eve of my Dad’s passing, I stopped by the folks’ house and Dad and I talked for four hours. Doing damage to the ice tea reserves. It started out as a conversation about judging. I had just come from the horse show at Terry, Montana where I had officiated. We talked about me going back to school in Oklahoma and the fishing trip they were planning with the Hayenga’s. We bantered about the horse I had been riding and some of the idiosyncrasies I was dealing with and ultimately what he was planning for the next year or so. That was the last four hours I spent with my Dad.

He passed away the next morning trying to help me load that same colt that had been such a challenge to me.

Tara Smith and I have one other thing in common that I wanted to mention, but not dwell upon. We both lost our respective fathers way too young and way too soon. We shared the loss of her aunt and my best friend and we also share the value of the kitchen ranch table. Follow Tara at on Facebook.

Editors Note : Nelseena Lehmann is the host of our radio programs, Horseman’s Corner and Cattleman’s Corner, which air on several radio stations throughout the true midwest . Visit our websites by Hale Multimedia – or for more, including archived programs. You may contact Nelseena at

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