John Denver Trivia At The Ranch Pen

oklahoma sunrise

Sunrise on the homeplace

Gramps and I took some time off the past two weeks to celebrate our wedding anniversary and to visit friends who live in the middle of Kentucky–another world away from our farm in Oklahoma.

On our return, we headed west out of Oklahoma City onto the open prairie and I was reminded of an old John Denver song from the last century–1970’s, I believe–called Back Home Again. And that in turn, reminded me of some John Denver trivia.

Now, if you don’t know who John Denver was, you’re probably under forty-years-old and you’ll just have to Google his name. For those over forty, you might best remember him as a hippie-type from Colorado who sang such songs as Take Me Home Country Roads, Annie’s Song, Rocky Mountain High, and Thank God I’m A Country Boy. I’ve loved his music all my life and was sad when his life took a crummy turn with drugs and alcohol and his personal life apparently in shambles. He ended up crashing his airplane and died in his fifties.

So, getting to the trivia. On a bluff overlooking the Washita River not far from our house, there used to be a tall, old-style Oklahoma farmhouse with a single chimney and a wrap-around porch. Uninhabited for many years, the house’s board siding had weathered to grey and the wind had torn off much of the roofing and beat on the house’s south side so that it leaned toward the north a little.

Every time we drove past that place with my late father-in-law, he would say, “John Denver used to live there. Name was Deutschendorf then.” I was always skeptical because my father-in-law (wearing his denim overalls and Farmer’s Co-op cap) was hardly an expert on popular culture. However, he always declared John Denver had lived in that house on the bluff with his grandparents.

One day, I Googled it. John Denver’s name was indeed Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., he apparently had an unsettled childhood, his grandparents lived in Oklahoma, and his grandmother allegedly gave him his first guitar. Putting all that together, I can see how he might have lived in that house on the bluff overlooking the Washita River with his grandma and where his song, Thank God I’m A Country Boy, might have come from.

Sadly, a few years ago that house burned down. Big rolls of hay are usually stacked there, now, but Gramps keeps the memory of the old house alive. Every time we drive past he says, “John Denver used to live there. Name was Deutschendorf then. House burned down a few years ago…”

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed that bit of trivia, for what it’s worth. Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy John Denver singing Back Home Again.



Oh, why not…Here’s Thank God I’m A Country Boy, too.

Grave Digger Better Dig Two At The Ranch Pen


image via

image via

Gramps and I have been teamed up for thirty-three years this week. We got hitched when we were babes in our teens and even though we’re getting a little grey around the muzzles it’s still a good lash-up.

In our teens, our romance was a wild adventure pretty much all the time:

Danni: Oh, I love you, you wonderful hunk of burning love. (smooch, smooch)

Gramps: Yee Haw.

In year thirty-three, we’ve made a few adjustments:

Danni: (groaning with aches and pains, collapses into the old people bed operated by digital controls ) Night, Gramps. Love you.

Gramps: Huh?

Danni: Sleep good. Love you.

Gramps: Yeah, I did.

Danni: (stares into the dark trying to figure out which wire got crossed there) What?

Gramps: I did put the dog up. Remember…she peed on the carpet?

Danni: (mutters) Oh, my goodness he’s getting deaf as a post. (bellows into Gramps’ hairy ear) I said I love you, is what I said!

Gramps: Oh. Well, then. Yee Haw…

Danni and Gramps balanced for a selfie on the edge (literally) of the Royal Gorge, Colorado

(incidentally, a fly from the outhouse up the hill from us in that picture–the stinkiest known to man–had buzzed into my ear, giving me vertigo. No one needs vertigo while teetering on the edge of a one-thousand-foot drop. Or Gramps’ unhelpful commentary. Very hard to get a professional looking selfie in those conditions)

Until next time, God bless all y’all while Gramps hikes his best britches up under his armpits and I pluck my chin hair so we can head out to celebrate and live on the edge some more.

And to m’dear KG, I thank God every day for hitching me to you. You are a good man and I wouldn’t change a thing. I dedicate this song by The Band Perry, Better Dig Two, to you because, well…that’s just the way it is.

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse the blog, I just like ‘em.

Taking The Buffalo By The Horns At The Ranch Pen

Last Labor Day weekend, we ceased from our labors on Friday night to attend the Beutler Brothers PRCA Rodeo in Elk City, Oklahoma. The Beutler family has good livestock, pro competitors, and the clown is funny.

This time they also hosted the One Armed Bandit and Company as their novelty act and I’ve included a video from Youtube of this amazing guy because a: to anyone who knows anything about livestock the act is one of those see it to believe it things and b: my pictures didn’t turn out very well.

A visit to his website is well worth the time, too, so I’ve included the link here.

(Below are the crummy pictures I took of John Payne’s buffalo and him on his mule on the trailer with a buffalo. If anyone has recently been on top of a stock trailer with a mule and a buffalo you may share in the comments.)


Anyway, amazing.

My little sister with my new horse, Sis. 

 As I mentioned a few posts back, m’dear nephew sold me his palomino mare, Sis. I had been drooling over her for some time, so I was overjoyed…until everybody was looking at me like, Oh, dear. Here we go. Mom on a horse again.

The reason they’re looking at me like that is, a few years ago I took a bad spill off my horse and ended up with one of my upper quadrants crunched up kind of like a bag of potato chips. Nothing on the magnitude of John Payne, the One Armed Bandit’s, injury, but enough to give me a huge amount of respect for the grit and hard-down stubbornness it took for him to overcome fear of failure and that injury.

When people are faced with such setbacks, they have choices to make. They can let circumstances get the best of them, or they can take the buffalo by the horns and put ‘em on top of a trailer using a mule.

In a small way, the palomino mare is my mule. I’m probably not going to put buffalo on top of the stock trailer with her, but I have been training our border collie, Nellie, to ride on the back of the flatbed pickup which is practically the same thing. (Hmm…Maybe if the mare jumped up on the pickup bed Nellie would gladly follow instead of me having to hoist her up there…? And I get so tired of having to clean up Nellie’s barf from her motion sickness. And she drools like Cujo. I doubt John Payne’s buffalo do that. Maybe I will just leave Nellie home and add a few head of buffalo to my menagerie…Oh, goodness. My head is literally spinning with possibilities.)

**I want to thank the Lord Jesus and my sister for smoothing the rough edges off the mare and understanding my desire to be mounted again in spite of seven grandkids and brittle bones. And Gramps for doing what he does.

And to end this post completely off base as per usual, here is one of the best pictures I took at the rodeo: A giant bug swarm. The larger blobs are feasting bats.

Until next time, God bless all y’all. Thanks so much for reading and if you’ve still got a minute, enjoy this oldie, but greatie, Where There Is Faith.

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse the blog, I just love ‘em.



Gone To The Dogs At The Ranch Pen


Nellie, ready to work on her  novel, Fifty Shades of Odor, based on the true story of a happy ranch dog

Nellie, ready to work on her novel, Fifty Shades of Odor, based on the true story of a happy ranch dog

You’ve gotta be kidding

Labor Day weekend is coming up for everybody in the USA. Many people celebrate by having a lot of fun, but out here at the Ranch Pen we mostly, well…labor. I’m pleased to say that our border collie, Nellie, has embraced that rigid work ethic and chosen an occupation–somewhat unusual for a dog, I must say–but an occupation nonetheless.

She wants to be a writer.

Google translator to the rescue

Every day that the wind doesn’t blow hair off the head, or the temperature doesn’t rise to one-hundred-degrees in the shade by 10:30 in the morning, one may usually find me on the front porch for a few hours, bleeding onto the writing program on my laptop. (Sometimes literally, but usually figuratively.)

Nellie often joins the painful process on the porch–generally after a dip in the pond. Ever helpful, she shakes cooling drops of green water over my fevered brow and laptop. Puzzled by the shrieks of rage coming out of me, aka her PLOP (pack leader/old person,) Nellie channels Google translator.

Google quickly spits out the meaning of the shrieks of rage in pig latin–a language which Nellie reads and speaks fluently: “Well done, Nellie. Do that shaking maneuver again in a few minutes, would ya?”  

Nellie wouldn’t have ever guessed that, but…whatever. Anything for her PLOP. (shakes pond water on me again.)

But Back To The Point

Anyway, this morning when I staggered out to the “office”, I found out Nellie’s secret passion to write stuff. How? Well, by clever modifications she had made to ANOTHER of my writing chairs, of course.

***Many people don’t know this, but the single greatest occupational hazard of writing is  bohonkus-falling-asleep-erosis (I’m pretty sure that’s pig latin, also). All chairs must be modified to the owner’s specifications.

Nellie has tried at least three times this summer to fix a chair to her particular body size and shape, but I have been slow on the uptake. I just thought she was shredding my chairs. How could I be so blind? It was the sign of a genius at work.

No worries, now. I get it. And with her own patriotic chair, she can work comfortably on her novel, Fifty Shades Of Odor, for minutes and minutes at a time…when her Attention Deficit Disorder isn’t bothering her.

Nellie enjoying life and one of her favorite songs, Who Let The Dogs Out

Until next time, God bless all y’all and have a great weekend. I’ll be down at Wal Mart looking for a new chair of my own…made of titanium, I guess.

*These dogs don’t necessarily endorse the blog we just love dogs. Why else would we keep putting up with them? 

The Grand Canyon From Between A Mule’s Ears

012 (4)

The Grand Canyon, Arizona, between my mule’s ears

I had a brilliant post in mind for today, unfortunately, one needs a full roster of brain cells and some time…out of luck on both accounts. Anyway, I was thinking about vacations and remembered the one Gramps and I took to the Grand Canyon in Arizona a few years ago. It was March, the weather on the rim was miserably cold and windy, the top mile of the trail was solid ice, and my mule’s name was Jezebel–a clue to her personality. It was wonderful. The best vacation experience ever, hands down.

Next week, I might posit the question, “Why in the world did that guy on our mule string spend the entire day texting?”, but for now, I’ll leave with the news that my nephew sold me his horse and I’m SO excited.

Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy these youngsters of Dave’s Highway singing No Not One. (Thanks daughter-in-law for posting on your Facebook page.)

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just think they’re amazing.

A Pointless Tail–er–Tale At The Ranch Pen

kids' feet

The four oldest grandsons and the two granddaughters have been in and out at the home place quite a lot over the summer. The quality of the blog posts might’ve suffered, but we’ve had a lot of fun and some interesting conversations.

Here are a few snippets:

Grandson: Nana, I’m kinda like a toad, or a frog. I really wanna be a toad. No, a snake. Do snakes eat toads?

Danni: Yep.

Grandson: I’m a snake, then. Not a toad, or a frog.


Danni: Hey! Don’t sword fight Ladybug (youngest granddaughter).

Grandson: (with a look like hello?) Well, she’s got a ball bat.


Grandson: I’m gonna shoot a baby deer.

Granddaughter: (gasps) No, you’re not! That’s mean.

Grandson: Nuh, uh. They’re for somebody’s lunch.


Grandson: (striking pose, sword outstretched) I’m Feodore Roosebelt!


Grandson: Y’wanna know why I’m draggin’ my feet on the carpet, Gramps?

Gramps: Why?

Grandson: Cause I got pee on ‘em.


Danni: Stop biting her! You’re not a real vampire bat!


Danni: Listen, pal. Don’t poke holes in my noodle.


Grandson: Hey, somebody scratch my back.


Then at the dinner table there was the dead silence from the grandkids that said more than words…after watching the bulls get semen tested.

But possibly one of my favorite conversations was the one below. *Red Alert: If you’re an animal rights activist–or a rat lover–I recommend you stop reading, now.

Six grandkids tumble into the house, sweating profusely and all talking at once.

Grandkids: Nana, there’s a sick rat in the barn. We’ve gotta help him or he’ll die!

Danni: (thinking, hallelujah, that rat poison is good stuff) Oh, I think y’all should leave that rat alone.

Granddaughter Blondie: But he’s really sick. We’ve got to nurse him back to health.

Danni: Um, no, honey. I’m sorry, but I won’t save a rat’s life.

Blondie: At least, can’t you put it out of its misery?

Danni: Just let it alone. It probably got in the rat bait. It’ll die in a little bit.

Blondie: (beginning to cry) That’s mean, Nana. We have to do something.

Danni: Honey, all I can do is hit it on the head and kill it.

Four grandsons: Yeah! Hit it on the head!

Grandsons rush back to the barn en masse. Granddaughters follow. Danni groans in her spirit and arms herself with pliers. Contrary to popular belief she doesn’t actually enjoy striking rats on the head. Except for the occasional two-legged rat. In the barn, the rat has crept beneath a pile of junk. Grandsons capture it. Danni picks up rat by the tail with her pliers. Stuffs it in a plastic cup. She has forgotten the hammer. Heads back to the house with grandsons leaping and shouting for blood like French Revolutionists mobbing the tumbrils of guillotine-bound aristocrats. Granddaughters trail behind in mourning. A thought strikes Danni like a sack of bricks on the head.

Danni: Hey, I know. I’ll throw the rat into the chickens and they can kill and eat it.

Blondie: Augh! No! Please. That’s cruel don’t do it!

Danni: You’d rather I hit it on the head?

Blondie: Yes.

Grandsons: Yeah! Hit it on the head! (They fetch the hammer.)

Danni groans in her spirit again, clears grandson heads out of the strike zone and dispatches the rat with a quick tap. A crowd of happy grandsons lead the funeral procession to the chicken pen. Grieving granddaughters follow.

Blondie: (crying) Nana, please put the rat where I can’t see the hens eat it.

Grandsons: We wanna see! Can we see…?

So, what is the point of that tale? I don’t think it has one except…if someone thinks there is no fundamental difference in boys and girls except their plumbing and environmental factors, I’d have to beg to differ. (And to anyone interested: The hens gobbled up the poisoned and head tapped rat with apparent enjoyment, suffering no ill effects afterward. It must truly be as my late father-in-law always said: “You cain’t poison a chicken.”)

God bless all y’all, have a great weekend as you go about your “rat killin'” as we say out in the country, and enjoy the young ladies of Red Roots singing Christian Country Girl.