There isn’t anything she can’t do.
She’s one of the most diversely-talented cowgirls anywhere and “blames” her dad, Dean Spittles, for her “get-it-done” attitude.
“I was his first child, and he wanted a boy. I became his tomboy. Dad told me to do something, said I could do it, and I did,” she remembered.
First and foremost, Sheila Spittles Litke, Oshkosh, Nebr., is a cowgirl.
She’s a musician, songwriter, poet, artist, photographer, beautician, cake baker-decorator, school teacher, computer-technician, author, farmer-rancher, business-woman, housewife, mother of three, and grandmother of four.
“Pretty much whatever I decide to do, I’ll get it done. It’s a mindset that I can do anything I want to do,” Litke admitted.
It began with her first pony, Flicka, on the family’s ranch near Council Grove, Kansas.
“I’ve always loved horses and loved to ride. I love the outdoors, the Flint Hills, the Sandhills, the wildlife, the beautiful sunsets.
“There’s no better way to appreciate it all than on the back of your horse,” Litke insisted.
That first pony “put me in the business. I rode Flicka doing everything that he could possibly do,” Litke verified.
Then, she sold the $50-pony for $150. “That was big money. While my friends were babysitting for 50 cents an hour, I was training and selling horses,” said Litke.
“I’ve trained lots of horses and sold them all over the country. Our daughters showed horses successfully, and now our grandchildren are showing horses,” related Litke, who rides on the ranch and also shows horses.
Litke’s musical genes run strong. Her dad made the perfect Hank Williams impersonator in the Spittles’ Family Band.
“My Grandma was playing the piano when I visited her once; I just sat down and started playing. From then on, I was driven to play the piano, about any musical instrument, anything to do with music,” Litke insisted.
“I can play by ear and by notes, too,” she confirmed. “I can read any music, play it and fit right into every musical group
“I played for the high school music department, was the Methodist Church organist 23 years, and the Hays House pianist 10 years. I’ve played for hundreds of weddings, funerals, and special occasions. I still get calls to play,” said Litke, who gave piano lessons many years.
A clarinetist in school, Litke added, “I have played the guitar a lot, the fiddle some, and I especially enjoy the banjo. There isn’t anything I can’t play if I decide to.”
Notebooks are filled with songs she’s written, and she could play and sing them right now: “I never forget a song.
“I’ve written lots of poems, and I have books filled with them, too.”
Litke is a professional artist, being named Artist of the Month at the Lewellen Art Museum near her Nebraska Sandhills ranch home. “My buffalo hair pottery has been quite popular,” Litke admitted.
Other artworks include animal figurines, leather tooling, sketches, and paintings in several genres.
“I do a lot of photography: portraits, weddings, family gatherings. Horses, wildlife, and landscapes are my favorite.
“I have published books of my photography and have them for sale along with individual photographs,” noted Litke, merchandizing her work as Blue Creek Photography.
Family is the most important to Litke. “My husband, Byron, and I have been married for 35 years,” Litke informed. “We both appreciate nature, the outdoors, and ranch life.
“I’m fortunate that Byron lets me to do all of the things I want to do,” Litke credited.
The couple has three daughters and four grandchildren. “All of them have similar interests to me,” Litke noted.
After two of their daughters were born, Litke, then a practicing beautician, completed her Emporia State University degree in education and music.
“Our youngest daughter was born after I started teaching, but now I’ve taught 23 years,” Litke related. “I’ve instructed music, language arts, reading, just about everything except physical-education and math.”
Presently, Litke serves as technical-coordinator for the Garden County, Nebraska, School System.
How did a Flint Hills cowgirl get to the Nebraska Sandhills?
“It’s kind of weird because I grew up in and love the beautiful Flint Hills,” Litke said. “But, Byron had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for Ted Turner on his 87,000-acre, 5,000-head buffalo ranch, so we moved here about five years ago.
“This area is distinctly different, yet quite similar to the Flint Hills. It’s gorgeous; really a step-back-in-time.”
The couple still owns a ranch in Morris County, where one of their daughters and her husband live. “We come back regularly and attend many family’s activities,” Litke emphasized.
Always Western-fashion-conscious, Litke is a seamstress and has an on-line apparel business: Cloverleaf Cowgirl Western Bling, also merchandized at horse events.
“I’ve never been bored. Whatever I do, I’ll always be a cowgirl and have horses,” Litke promised.