Listen To Our Hearts On Easter Week

I am away from the Ranch Pen, so I’ll re-share this post from last Easter week–my sentiments are exactly the same.

First jonquils on the home place

First jonquils on the home place

During Easter week, any words I can come up with sound lame to me, so today I’ll just share this beautiful song by Geoff Moore. If you think anybody in this clip needs a hair-cut just close your eyes and listen with your heart.

That might be a good idea, anyway.

God bless all y’all and enjoy Geoff Moore singing Listen to our Hearts.

Shakespeare And An Irritating Problem At The Ranch Pen


Break of day at the Ranch Pen

In observation of National Poetry Month, I was looking around the internet to put together this post on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, and a thought struck me like a bag of bricks on the head as things sometimes do (almost literally if I’m not wearing my glasses) and–actually that reminds me. Since the frame of my glasses split over my left eye, my eyebrow tends to get caught in the crack and pulled. So unfortunate. Now I need new frames and who wants to waste a bunch of time trying on new ones only to buy a pair they will surely hate every time they startle themselves in the mirror? Not me. Excuse me one second while I jot down a note to myself on my kleenex…


Okay, I’m back. Where were we…Ah, yes.

I have always thought Sonnet 29 particularly apt to the farmers and ranchers who make their livings off the land and are totally at the mercy of the heavens (weather). In reading different commentaries on the internet, however, I realized Shakespeare’s words mean something different to everybody but most people can find something with which to identify in Sonnet 29. I hope you can too.

Sonnet 29

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on Thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For Thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

~William Shakespeare~


Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy David Wesley singing this amazing Amazing Grace medley.

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just love his singing and the songs.


Still Celebrating Poetry Month At The Ranch Pen



That lighthouse better have a firm foundation

Songs are just poetry set to music, so today for National Poetry Month, I’ll share a part of one of my favorite old hymns, How Firm A Foundation, published in 1787 in a collection of hymns by John Rippon. It’s good, good stuff in a world full of crumbling foundations.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Fernando Ortega singing How Firm A Foundation.

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog I just love his singing.

Ode To A Little Goat (Deceased)

by EK Johnson

by EK Johnson

Danni composing poetry

In celebration of National poetry month, I’d like to share one of my own original compositions straight from the Ranch Pen. Enjoy…if you can.

Ode To A Little Goat (Deceased)

You came to the Ranch Pen needing a home

because there in town, you tended to roam.

You were slightly confused, thought your mom was a dog,

You nursed her like a hog.


The grandkids loved you, everything was swell,

How could I know you were not very well

with you slurping from your bottle with nary a care,

your hooves in my underwear?*


The next morning, imagine my surprise,

when I went out and found you drawin’ flies!

Forgive me, dear little Starbuck, I’m down on my knees,

now…pass the ketchup, please.



No, Gramps and I did not eat the little goat. He was given a Christian farm burial and now rests in peace. And, seriously, Starbuck the goat was fine on Saturday night, but on Sunday morning he was curled up like he was asleep, dead as a door nail. My sincerest condolences to my young friend, Sarah, who trusted me not to inadvertently kill her goat…to no avail. And sympathies to Starbuck’s foster-mother dog who actually did nurse the goat along with her litter of pups.

*If you have ever bottle fed an exuberant baby goat you probably have had hooves in your underwear, too. If not, you don’t want to know how that happened.

And here are some shots in memoriam:

IMG_5453The nieces loved Starbuck


Grandkids loved Starbuck


Starbuck = pure happiness

Until next time, God bless all y’all. I couldn’t find a funeral dirge for a young goat, but I think Starbuck would’ve wanted us to be happy and move on with our lives. So, with that in mind, enjoy comedian Tim Hawkins waxing poetical in song with my personal favorite–his classic Delilah.

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog, but he makes me laugh and snort my ice tea up my nose.





Celebrating National Poetry Month At The Ranch Pen

Painting by Harvey Dunn

Painting by Harvey Dunn

April is National Poetry Month and since spring has finally sprung down here at the Ranch Pen and everything outside needs done at once, I’ll just share some favorite poetry. This poem by William Wordsworth is entitled Written In March and speaks of a time long past for most people. And sadly so, I think.

Until next time, enjoy, and God bless all y’all.


Written in March

The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter
The green field sleeps in the sun;

The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!

Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The plowboy is whooping- anon-anon:

There’s joy in the mountains;
There’s life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!

~William Wordsworth~

Methinks He Doth Grin Too Much


The title of this post, Methinks He Doth Grin Too Much, is a Ranch Pen hijacking of Mr. Shakespeare’s line in Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.

Anytime an author wants to feel as though he or she has been stabbed in the eye with a sharp pencil, they head over to Amazon to read the one star reviews of their books. My book The Cedar Tree has racked up three so far with one of the reviews complaining (among other things) that the main character, Gil Howard, grins too much. Which reminds me…I haven’t written a post about any of my characters for a while and Gil will do as well as anyone.

Gil is probably my favorite character. Ladies seem to like him and–surprisingly enough–so do guys. Over the years, he morphed into a composite of many of the men in my life: unapologetically male, strong, confident and competent in his field of expertise…and sadly deficient in the romance department. He is goofy and a kidder who would almost rather take a beating than get mushy, but he has an unexpected streak of tenderness and ends up with a heart for God even though he doesn’t always do the right thing. And he is an optimist who laughs and grins a lot.

Gil has been with me a long time, longer even than my kids. He started out as a dashing fellow named Rory. Here is an excerpt from a previous post, Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams:

 I was a teen-ager when I first ventured into novel writing. My first attempt was set in the 1800′s and featured a protagonist named Rory. I forget his last name. He rode a big horse–black, I believe. His love interest was Kate and his story was full of stuff like this:
   Rory raced his freshly shod, big, black, shiny, deep chested Quarter Horse horse with four white socks and a blaze face up to the burning wooden cabin and slid to a sliding stop. He jumped off the saddle and ran quickly up to the door burning hotly, vowing to stake the devil who had done this to Kate onto an anthill of ants.
“Help, Rory, you big, strong, very good looking man, you,” Kate cried feebly from inside the burning inferno somewhere.
Oh, goodness! She was fading fast!
“Kate, darlin’!” he cried out desperately. “Hold fast to our dreams, for if you die, they’re pretty much all out the window! Darlin’! Oh, and by the way, throw the kids out to me if they’re still with us…”


Eventually, Rory ended up in the garbage and I didn’t do much writing for a few years. He wouldn’t stay dead, however, and finally resurrected from the ashes of his trash can as a new and better character. Rory’s dumb love interest, Kate, eventually turned into Gil’s love interest, Katie Campbell, of The Cedar Tree.

Once in a while someone will ask what is my favorite part of writing Gil. The answer is his and Katie’s snippy exchanges, hands down. This is one of my favorites from The Cedar Tree:

   Gil eyed Lance as he crossed to the door and left. The guy was hopeless. Katie was way too much firepower for him…like a .458 magnum elephant rifle against a BB gun. She’d eat him alive and he’d just stand there and let her.
   He headed down the hall. “You need a ride in the mornin’?” he asked through her closed bedroom door.
   “No,” she snapped sarcastically. “I can walk. It’s only twelve miles.”
   “Okay. Have it your way.”
   “Okay. Have fun bottle feeding all those bummers.”
   “I could feed ‘em. Any moron can feed bum lambs.”
   “While I’m feedin’ bummers, you can build the hay barn.”
   “I would, but I didn’t take building lessons from Dr. Seuss.”
   “Hey,” he said, stung. “That salvaged lumber might not look so hot, but it’s a good barn.”
   “It’s magnificent.”
   “Okay,” he said irritably, “you get on the end of a hammer tomorrow and see how it goes…”


(Eerily similar to some of the snippy exchanges at the Ranch Pen.)


Some writers sketch their characters to keep them straight in their mind’s eye, and many years ago I sketched up ol’ Rory to look like Tom Selleck. (Not old Grampa Tom Selleck like he is now, but like he was in his Magnum PI days in the last century.

Tom Selleck Magnum PI
Gil got a sketch a long time ago, too. I don’t claim to be any good at sketching, but here’s Gil as I imagined him–grinning.Gil
If any of y’all imagine him differently, whip out a sketch and send it to me at It doesn’t matter if it’s any good. He might look like this:Gilwithwhiskers
Or, even like this…it’s all good:

Well, that’s all for today, but to everybody who has told me how much they like Gil, thank you very much. I like him and his stupid grin (as his love interest, Katie, calls it,) too.

Until next time, thanks for reading and God bless all y’all while you enjoy David Wesley’s new one, 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord).

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just love his music

A Young Mama At The Ranch Pen On Wordless Wednesday

I have a soft spot for very young mothers–having been there and done that–and when Gramps and I were checking the cows he bought at the livestock auction the other day, this little cow and her baby kinda melted my heart.