Top Ranch Pen Posts Of 2014–#4

The fourth most viewed post of 2014 is actually one from the spring of last year entitled, More Cowboy Poetry And Growing Vegetables For Slaughter In SW Oklahoma. I’m not sure who all views the post. Cowboy poetry fans? The accidental viewer? Vegetable rights people? Regardless, I hope y’all enjoy cowboy poet, Baxter Black reciting his poem, The Vegetarian’s Nightmare, on the old Johnny Carson Show.


Shumway Seed Catalog

Lately, I’ve been thinking about planting my garden. (I like R H Shumway, by the way. Not only because they always have a good catalog cover, but their seeds are good, too.) Usually in February we can start planting taters and onions here in southwest Oklahoma.

But thoughts of vegetables made me remember a funny poem Baxter Black (one of my favorite cowboy poets) wrote years ago. Here he is doing The Vegetarian’s Nightmare on the Johnny Carson Show.

Don’t get too attached to your carrot’s feathery tops!


Until next time, God Bless all y’all and enjoy one of my favorite Christmas songs, Little Drummer Boy, sung beautifully by Pentatonix.

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


Top Ranch Pen Posts Of 2014–#5

The fifth most viewed post of the year at the Ranch Pen isn’t really a post, but the About The Author page, which surprises the goodness out of me, but thank you all. I blew off the dust, updated the info, stuffed in a new picture of Gramps and me, and…Shazam! (as my sister says). Gramps doesn’t actually write any of my books, but he is an invaluable part of the process. He proofreads, gives me technical advice, drops a new laptop on me once in a while, and inspires most of the smart-mouth witty dialogue from my male characters.

For Blog

image courtesy of It’s a Sweet Life Photography

Danni and her husband, Gramps

Danni McGriffith is the author of Agnes Campbell’s Hat–a novel for middle grade and young adult readers–as well as The Cedar Tree and Wailing Woman Creek, the first two books in the Love Is Not Enough series about two ranching families set in western Colorado. She blends a lifetime of experience with farm and ranch life, humor, and her Christian worldview into the stories she writes. Presently, she is working on the third book in the Love Is Not Enough series.

Danni home-schooled her three sons for sixteen years then finally graduated the last one and retired from that endeavor. After that, she started writing in earnest, unwilling to waste all those years of english classes. Most of what she writes is  politically incorrect but realistic Christian fiction, incorporating her lifelong love of horses, farming, ranching, and the Lord Jesus. She generally writes and blogs with her tongue firmly in her cheek because her foot is taking up the rest of the space in her mouth.

Danni and Gramps have been married 33+ years. They have three grown and married sons and seven grandkids featured on the blog from time to time–Kevman, Blondie, Roper, Eisnstein, Git’R’Done, Ladybug, and the newest member, Tater.

Danni and Gramps grow wheat and forage for cattle on about 850 acres in southwestern Oklahoma. They run a cow-calf operation with 80-100 mama cows, mostly black angus. McGriffith farms are scattered here and there across a ten-mile radius, but at the home place, Danni keeps her chickens in an old school bus–one of Gramps’ harebrained great ideas. She also keeps a rotating menagerie of cats, dogs, orphan calves, and a horse or two–at present the grandkids’ Shetland pony, Frisco, and her perfect granny-horse mare, Sis, who is too fat and lazy to buck. (Danni hopes.)

Danni thanks you for your interest, and by all means, sign up for new book notifications or use the contact form below.


Thank you so much for reading and until next time, God bless all y’all while you enjoy Casting Crowns singing I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.

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

Chaos, Humor, Beauty, and Grace At The Ranch Pen


I looked at my drawing board a few days ago (above) full of old projects, half-finished projects, and ideas for possible projects, and it struck me–my drawing board is a reflection of life at the home place right now. Chaos, humor, beauty, and grace.

As I mentioned in my last post about a month ago, a fifty-two-year-old man–who was most likely intoxicated and shouldn’t have been driving–plowed at 85+ mph into our son’s pickup and it is only the grace and mercy of God our son’s wife still has a husband, his kids still have a dad, and Gramps and I still have a middle son.

Our son is recovering from his injuries–which we are unutterably thankful for–but since the wreck I fully understand why the organization Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is called MADD. Gramps used to work with an alcoholic who liked to joke that he was a member of DAMM, Drunks Against Mad Mothers, but I wonder if the alcoholic would think that cute little acronym was still funny if a drunk killed or maimed his wife or child?

We are a family greatly blessed because we didn’t receive the news that #2 had been killed–so many other families have, and many more will as long as people continue to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs and while the justice system continues to release repeat offenders. Sometimes we hear that the state doesn’t have enough money, or the jails are too full to keep all the impaired drivers off the roads…well, families, hospital beds, and graveyards are full of drunk drivers’ victims, too.

Next week if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I’ll try to run a few of the top Ranch Pen posts of 2014. Until then enjoy the Piano Guys doing a beautiful job on Come O Come Emmanuel and my prayer is for God to help all y’all through your chaos with humor, beauty, and grace. And, please…stay safe out there.

Suspected Drunk Driving At The Ranch Pen


The good news is, Son #2 lived through the wreck ten days ago when a suspected drunk driver hit him while he was on the job. (Because the cops haven’t gotten the blood sample from the other driver back from the lab, I have to say suspected drunk driver even though the guy smelled of alcohol at the scene–and in spite of the fact that two weeks before, that same guy wrecked another truck in a felony DUI incident and has a string of DUIs from past years.)

God has been kind to us and Son #2 is recovering from his injuries, but my brain power is limited even more than usual at this time. I’ll be absent from the blog until our lives settle down. Until then, buckle up and God bless all y’all.

Writing With Death Overhanging At The Ranch Pen

Kit Carson's gravestone Taos, New Mexico

A few years ago, Gramps and I visited the graveyard in a park in Taos, New Mexico where Kit Carson and his wife, Josefina, are buried.

One of our closest neighbors died this week. Statistically speaking, one out of one people dies, so there was nothing strange in her death. At over eighty years of age, our neighbor may have lived through one of the most radical periods of change in the history of mankind. She was an old-style Okie lady–tough, opinionated, a staunch Democrat, super friendly, and big-hearted. I liked her even though we couldn’t agree on politics. For years, she manned a spot at the polling booth in a local church where she tried–not always successfully–not to voice her opinions to the voters. Last Tuesday when Gramps and I went to vote, I missed her a lot.

Maybe her death and the deaths of many of our elderly farm neighbors in the past few years–along with writing a difficult book–is what set me to thinking about a quote from the writing craft book by James Scott Bell, Revision and Self Editing. 

“A gripping plot involves the overhanging possibility of death.”

~James Scott Bell~


What Mr. Bell meant was the stakes have to be so high for the character that if he or she doesn’t get what they need, they will not be okay. The character doesn’t necessarily have to get what they want, but their most basic need must be met or they will die…either physically, psychologically/spiritually, or professionally.

For instance, consider physical death. Every morning I want a cup of hot tea. I think I will probably die if I don’t get it. I will do almost anything to get tea in the morning. However, if the situation is distilled to basics, it turns out the only thing I actually need is just a boring cup of water to sustain my life.

Now, I can decide water is absolutely unacceptable. I must have my greatest desire–tea. Unfortunately, I don’t want to get dressed and drive to town. Do I:

  • Throw a wall-eyed fit and make Gramps miserable so he’ll stop drinking his coffee and go buy me some tea, or do I drink some of his coffee?

Gramps won’t share his coffee, I decide on the fit. Does Gramps:

  • Lay back his ears, refuse to go to town for tea, or offer me water?

I shrilly declare I’d rather drink gasoline and die than drink a cup of water. Does Gramps:

  • Say go ahead, see if I care, or try to distract me with a glass of apple juice?

I don’t want apple juice, either. He obviously doesn’t believe me about the gas. I feel honor bound to follow through, show him he has pushed me too far this time. Do I:

  • Show him a thing or two by drinking the gasoline and end up sputtering to an inglorious stop, or ditch my ridiculous pride and have some water-based apple juice?

All those scenarios (completely fictional) (except I must have tea) are where my story lies–what I want, what I think I need, what I’ll do to get my desire, and finally, what I truly need in order to avoid shuffling off my mortal coil.

If we think about it, the same things hold true as we write the stories of our real lives, too, so while we wrestle with our mortality and make decisions about the pieces of us we want to pass through time, let’s live so the preacher doesn’t have to lie at our funeral and let’s write like there is death overhanging.

Thanks so much for reading and until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Justin Hines and the Canadian Tenors singing Say What You Will.

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



Random Lunacy At The Ranch Pen

Today, I’m way behind on everything I can be way behind on, so I just have a few random lunacies to share. Possibly because I looked in the mirror and one of my favorite Hank The Cowdog lines of all time popped into my head, I don’t know why.

You look like a fossil and your mother’s a lunatic…


(The quote is from The Case Of The Dinosaur Birds by John Erickson, a Texas rancher, author, and very funny guy. I suggest clicking the link and rushing over to to download Mr. Erickson reading the story. And…sorry, Mom.)


I came across some funny memes. First, the one below is amusing to those of us out on the open plains trying to farm, or even protect our hair-dos and small children from blowing away.


One of my young friends shared the one below with me and I thought it was hilarious:


And, finally, the one that made my sister and me laugh our heads off but that I’d probably better not show–as an ultra-conservative Christian grandma trying to maintain my super G rated blog–was a picture of a southern-fried, scruffy, shirtless, redneck guy leaning on his old pickup and chewing on a hay straw. He looks bummed. The meme says: We broke up, but she said we could still be cousins. 

And finally, talk about crazy. Like old man Gene Howard, a character in The Cedar Tree from my Love Is Not Enough series, we have skunks living under our house. I think his lives under his bathroom, and oddly enough…ours does, too! A couple of months ago, we had only one skunk, but then she had babies. We were so excited, as you might imagine. The babies make cute sounds under there, growling, and mewing, and scuffling around in the middle of the night. Fighting. Going off. Wonderful. So far, we have captured the dog and all the cats in the skunk trap, but no skunks. I believe the youngster skunks are beginning to venture into the yard, now, because last night when Gramps and I returned from church, Nellie the cowdog was running around like a lunatic, plowing up the ground with her nose, freshly sprayed with eau de young skunk.

Thanks so much for reading. Until next time God bless all y’all and enjoy Tim Hawkins doing his looney take on Delilah.


Cool Tunes At The Ranch Pen

image via somewhere on the internet

One of the good things about living in the sticks is the rural radio stations. Our local station keeps us up to date on farm news, senior citizens’ lunch menus, and the obituaries. As an added bonus, the morning news’ host features a spot called “Local Talent” which is exactly what it sounds like. Sometimes the kindergarten class sings. We hear teenage bands, church groups, and bad karaoke. Now and then, we hear cowboy poetry (we have some really good local poets). One of the local crop duster pilots sings occasionally (he’s good, too). But, last week we heard something I’d never heard before. Even though the talent wasn’t local, it grabbed every farmer in the county with its cool factor, made us remember our dads’ and granddads’ tractors, and made us smile, too. So, until next time, God bless all y’all and I hope you’ll enjoy this video from Sweden (I think) of an old tractor that never missed a beat on Sweet Georgia Brown.