That is not Kansas. I think it's Alberta, Canada. But if you take away the mountains, it looks and feels a lot like cattle ranching territory in my state and in the book I'm writing. Things in the book are finally working out well, and all the coincidences that happen when things "click" are happening on schedule. It just so happens that my son is spending the winter working on one of his dad's ranches, so he calls me on his way to and fro and I ask him things like, "Are they using high-tensile barbed wire these days? How many strands do they use, five or six? What about the posts, are they wood or metal now?" It has been a lot of years since I spent time on a ranch and things change, even there. And when I'm living in the middle of something, but not writing about it, I can miss the details. When I was married to his dad I saw plenty of fences, and I have a picture of them in my mind's eye, but I can't be sure that picture is still accurate--or ever was, for that matter. I have to ask.
Fortunately, it turns out that my son has a writer's eye for detail. Not only is he patient with his mom's questions, but he answers with the most wonderful minutiae, the kinds of things that make scenes feel real. Today, for instance, he described a gate, down to the kind of latch that closes it. He told me how he feeds the cattle every morning, how many pastures he handles and how long it takes to do it, how many cattle there are in each pasture, and how he has to go looking for a few of them sometimes when they don't show up at the sound of his feed truck. Certain things really make my ears perk up, as when I thought to ask him, "When you're counting, do you count the cows and the calves?" and he said, "No, we never count the calves." I'm glad to know that! It could make a difference with a reader who knows about such things. If I write, "she counted only the mama cows," that reader will nod to herself, and think, "that's right," and feel secure with me, the author.
Here's to keeping it real, in fiction and in life. And to observant sons.