A covered wagon train moves across the broad desolate landscape beneath a vast western sky. One wagon breaks formation and forks off on its own trail. As it does, we hear Missie LaHaye (Erin Cottrell) reading from a letter she's writing to her father (Dale Midkiff) about how, after two years of marriage, she and (her husband) Willie (Logan Bartholomew) are leaving the wagon train and heading out alone to set down roots on the land Willie purchased four years ago. She writes he will be a grandfather soon, but she hasnt told Willie she is expecting a baby because he has so much on his mind. August isnt a good time to set up a ranch, but she was able to get in a year of teaching before they joined the wagon train and the extra money will help with expenses.
The couple arrives in Tettsford Junction, where there is little sign of life except for the pens of livestock and a coop of chickens, bordering a row of rough storefronts and residential shacks. Four years ago Willie came through the town on a cattle drive and chose a piece of land to call his own. As promised, if he and Missie can live on and improve the land for five years, it will be rightfully theirs. Many have come before them in the same attempt, but Willie and Missie are determined to make it work.
When they arrive at their land, uncertainty spreads over them. The land is covered with tumbleweeds and the ranch house is in bad shape. Unwilling to show each other concern, Willie and Missie keep a straight face and forge ahead. Willie takes out all their money and tells her that theyre going to buy their cattle and hire hands and then bury the rest. The money is crucial to their survival.
Willie gives Missie the shotgun for safety and heads into town to get their mail and hire help. In Taylorsons Saloon, Willie interviews a gnarled old cowboy named Scottie (W. Morgan Sheppard), who tells him that he cant get hired even though hes an experienced cowboy because his right hand is withered and twisted with severe arthritis. Willie hires him along with three more hands, Henry (James Tupper), Fyn (Johann Urb) and Cookie (Frank McRae). Willie and the men go off to buy cattle.
Missie is busy trying to set up a home in the small ranch house when she is approached by a Shoshoni Indian woman named Miriam Red Hawk McClain (Irene Bedard). She tells Missie that she, her husband, Sean, her brother, Sharp Claw (Gil Birmingham), and their two boys homestead the next tract to the south. Because there are no schools, Missie agrees to teach Miriams boys and the other Shoshoni children. Miriam realizes Missie is pregnant and says she will help her when her time comes.
Willie returns to the ranch with his hired men and cattle while Missie heads off to bring books to Miriam. Greeted by Miriam and her family, Missie makes herself at home only to be interrupted by Willie, brandishing a gun, who is upset that she did not tell him where she was going. At home, the couple fight over the confrontation at Miriams house, and Missie breaks down and cries telling Willie that she is pregnant. Willie is shocked but thrilled to be a father.
Missie and Willie go into Tettsford Junction to get their mail and do some shopping. They meet Jeff (Graham Phillips), a 10-year-old orphan, whose older brother Sonny (Richard Lee Jackson) is an outlaw, who leaves him in the care of a widow woman in town. Sonny rides with two others, Trent (John Savage) and Mason (Jeff Kober), who terrorize the townsfolk and robs unsuspecting families crossing the range in their covered wagons.
Willie pays his men a little early since theyve been working hard. Scottie tells him its not a good idea since the cattle business is unpredictable. He should keep his money for an emergency. They all say hes right, except Fyn who wants the money.
Winter arrives and Missie and Willie prepare for Christmas. Willie realizes that Missie feels sorry for Jeff because he is alone much of the time, so he surprises her by bringing him home to share Christmas with them. They have Christmas dinner in the house with the ranch hands. Everyone is touched to receive gifts from Missie of handmade wool scarves and mittens. Scottie confesses that this is the first Christmas present hes ever received.
It is early spring and Missie is very pregnant. In town, the three outlaws sit in on a poker game where Scottie, Fyn and three other cowboys play. Fyn, who is drunk, lets out that his boss, Willie, has money buried on the ranch.
The next morning, Missie, Willie, Henry and Jeff are spending Sunday morning on the ranch reading the Bible when the outlaws break in and tie everyone up threatening to kill Missie if Willie does not tell them where the money is hidden. Trent pulls Missie up on his horse and they ride up to the spot where Willie has hidden the money. Two shots ring out and Willie fears the worst. They see a figure on a horse approach the ranch. Everyone assumes it is Trent returning with the money, but they are all surprised to see Missie, in disguise, with a gun pointed directly at Mason. There is a scuffle and Mason pulls a gun out of his boots and shoots Sonny. Jeff runs to Sonny begging someone to help his brother, but it is too late. Sonny dies from his wounds.
Several weeks later, Missie goes into early labor. She sends Willie to get Miriam, who delivers her baby, a boy they name Matthew Nathan LaHaye, after Willies younger brother, who died years earlier.
One year has passed since Willie and Missie moved onto their land. Missies garden has produced a bounty of vegetables and herbs. Baby Matthew is six months old. Missie writes to her father that Jeff has become part of their family and has taken LaHaye as his last name. Each day on the ranch shes reminded of Gods plan in the never ending circle of life. Shes proud and happy of how her family turned out. Who knows what the next year will bring? Im confident the love of God and family will light our path. And a renewed Faith in the words, for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.