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. 

Pawnee Bill Rodeo At The Ranch Pen On Wordless Wednesday

Einstein getting ready to rodeo-

The rodeo queen and the two "pick up" men starting the grand entry

The rodeo queen and the two “pick up” men starting the grand entry

The grand entry. Not all are competitors, but all are involved with horses somehow

The grand entry. Not all are competitors, but all are involved with horses somehow

These ladies' flags said "God Bless America"

These ladies’ flags said “God Bless America”

Some of the littlest cowpokes

Some of the littlest cowpokes

The rodeo announcer and one of the "pick up" men

The rodeo announcer mounted at right and one of the “pick up” men (he rides beside the cowboys to pick them up instead of them having to jump off the rough stock–if they last the eight second ride)

This really was Tater's first rodeo

This really was Tater’s first rodeo

Kevman in his new hat

Kevman in his new hat

Kids twelve and under line up to chase calves to pull the ribbon off their tales for a prize.

Kids twelve and under line up for the calf scramble–whichever kids pull the ribbons off those calves’ tails win the prizes.

The calf scramble. Kids twelve and under chase calves to pull the ribbon off their tales for a prize.

The calf scramble.

Old Glory. May she never lose her meaning

Old Glory. May she never lose her meaning



We Love Books At The Ranch Pen


Here at the Ranch Pen, we love books whether they’re the old fashioned paper kind, the electronic reader kind, or the audiobook. One I’ve been re-reading in audiobook format, and can’t recommend enough, is C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Screwtape Letters.  Brilliant.

Another type of book I recommend are the graphic novels for children called the Illustrated Classics. These books are classic literature in an abridged, comic book format that appeals to kids. Books like The Call of the Wild, Oliver Twist, The Scarlet Letter, Kidnapped, and even the story of the guy with the big honker, Cyrano de Bergerac, are broken down in a way kids remember and helps them untangle the original classics later on.

Recently I was honored to receive a pre-release copy of my writer friend, Erin’s, book Surviving Henry to read and review.

Surviving Henry is in bookstores as well as online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble where you can grab a copy for yourself or to give as a gift. 


From the back cover:

Sometimes you seek out love. And sometimes it broadsides you.

You don’t always know what you’re getting into when you bring home a puppy. You hope for laughs and cuddles, long walks and a wagging tail. And sometimes you get . . . Henry.

Henry is a boxer who suffers from Supreme Dictator of the Universe Syndrome. He vandalizes his obedience school, leaps through windows, cheats death at every turn, and generally causes his long-suffering owner Erin Taylor Young to wonder what on earth she did wrong that God would send this dog to derail her life.

But this rogue torpedo of a dog wasn’t sent to torment his owner–well, not just to torment her. Through all the hair-pulling and questioning of her own sanity, Erin learns something very powerful from Henry, a dog who brings new meaning to the concept of unconditional love.

Through his laugh-out-loud antics and jaw-dropping escapades, Henry will careen into your life and steal your heart.

Erin and I compared naughty dog stories throughout the time she was working on Surviving Henry, so some of the events I already knew about, but I laughed out loud anyway. Erin is hilarious and a super nice lady who I’m sure never deserved a dog like Henry. I’m a dog person, but the book is really for anybody who has been tempted to give up on a dog, a spouse, a kid, or any other difficult individual one is committed to. And Erin quoted me in her book…I’m so excited! Watch for the rancher friend unfortunately experienced in electric shocks.

As always, thanks so much for reading. Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Casting Crowns tearin’ up their awesome song, Thrive.

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just love their music


Arrived Alive At The Ranch Pen

Danni and Gramps stopping for a selfie while hiking at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. Would the ancient Chacoans be snorting their iced tea up their noses at the sight of these aging Okies–sweating profusely and clutching iPhones with no signal–hauling themselves over their ruins? The guess would be yes.

We believe in miracles at the Ranch Pen. Why? Gramps and I have arrived alive back home from a series of excellent adventures in spite of…er–well, let’s just say Gramps comes from farm country where most of us drive around with our blinkers on–or don’t use them at all–go fast and then slow, then even slower, and gawk at the neighbors’ crops and cattle while crossing the center line. We hardly sustain a dent. However, when we get out on the crowded interstates of our great country, gawking at crops and cattle nearly gets old farmer dude AND HIS WIFE killed. So, yes. I believe strongly in miracles. (And if y’all were driving anywhere between Oklahoma and Colorado recently, you should, too.)

The old brains are still adjusting, but I’ll try to blow the dust and cobwebs off the blog in the next few days. Until then, I’m happy to report only one calf died while we were away and he had been sickly from birth, our border collie, Nellie’s, broken leg has vastly improved since her cast removal a few days before our trip, and we got some greatly needed rain.


Nothing more thanks-worthy to Okie cattlemen than rain and green grass in August 

Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Steven Curtis Chapman’s Glorious Unfolding.

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