Personality Of A Sunbeam, Bladder Of A Flea At The Ranch Pen

Gramps with the grandkids, Git’R’Done, Ladybug, Blondie, and Roper

A couple of weeks ago, along with my sister’s family, we gathered up as many grandkids as we could and headed down to the horse fair and ranch rodeo at Duncan, Oklahoma. Normally, I get a lot of really bad pictures, but this year I only managed to take a few really bad pictures. (Excluding the one above.) Why? you might ask. The correct answer would be that Ladybug–who has the personality of a sunbeam and is cute as can be at three-years-old–has the bladder and attention span of a flea.

Ladybug and I spent much of our time in the ladies’ room of the fair barn. The facilities there are pretty awesome apparently. The space is cavernous and echoes, sometimes with the barking from a stock dog on the end of some ranch lady’s leash. Perhaps twenty stalls of a dull, institution tan color are divided by a wide aisle where all us ranch lady types go in and out. Our boots scuff the concrete floor, which is covered in a film of grit from the arena. A really cool sink, like an old semi-circle horse trough, spouts water from only one of four spouts (I assume to conserve water because of western Oklahoma’s severe drought and water shortage). Also, there is an automatic paper towel dispenser. If you are three-years-old and stand directly beneath the towel dispenser jumping around and waving your hands, an astonishing amount of paper toweling will unfurl before your nana can drag you away. If you are not three-years-old, forget it. The blinking red eye will never detect your wrinkled old hands, no matter how vigorously you wave and mutter. Finally,  there was the big mirror above the trash can to make sure our hair looked good before Ladybug and I burst forth at a gallop, heading for the snack bar…to buy a drink, so we could return to the ladies room, etc, etc.

During my many treks to the facilities with Ladybug, I commanded Gramps to take pictures only to find he’s not any better than I am at that. However, he did take a video or two–one of which was upside down and the other in slow-mo. That one was hysterically funny, but we got it all fixed up for the Ranch Pen readers’ shock and awe.

The horse was not harmed in the making of this video, but seemed invigorated by his eight seconds of exercise. The rider, however, hit the fence hard enough to make Gramps lose control of the camera, so I had to cut off the end of the video. I believe the rider lived–at least until he staggered out of sight of the arena.

So, until next time, God help all y’all as you try to ride out your broncs–literal and figurative–and enjoy David Wesley doing his excellent job on Good Good Father.

What, Me Worry? At The Ranch Pen


That image, for those who don’t know, is Alfred E. Neuman, the face of Mad magazine since the 1950’s. My dad used to do a creditable imitation of Alfred when one of the front teeth fell out of his top denture plate and he went around grinning and saying, “What? Me Worry?”.

I can’t recommend Mad Magazine as Christian reading material, but while I was putting together this post, I visited Mad’s website and pulled the graphic below from Mad’s Horrifying Cliches. Maybe one needs to be a writer to fully appreciate horrifying cliches, but this one is too funny.


Oh, goodness. I have released an insane cackle, or two, in my time.

Let’s see. What was I talking about…? Oh, yes. Worry.

As almost all good mothers do, I have a tendency toward worry. My late father-in-law used to tell me, “Quit wearyin’ your mind, Snooks.” His words did help. My annoyance at the term Snooks made me forget to worry for a while. Now, m’dear Gramps–who has always been an Alfred E. Neuman type, too–often exhorts me to “Settle down and go to sleep. You can’t do nothin’ about it before morning, anyhow.” He knows better than to call me Snooks, but when I’m in worry mode I find his advice just as annoying as his dad’s used to be.

However, worriers rejoice! I found a sign in the western wear store last weekend that vindicates us, at last.


(I worried about laying down sixteen bucks for that sign, so just took a picture instead)

Unfortunately, sometimes the things that never occurred to us to worry about DO happen. Like drunk drivers’ that crash into our lives as one did to my middle son in November. Anyone who has had a drunk driver wreak havoc and heartache in their family knows why the organization Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is called MADD. Good mothers have gone to bat for their kid all the kid’s life. That’s in the job description. Drunks, however, leave mothers swinging at the air–addicts hardly ever take responsibility for their actions. So, we cope as best we can. As a Christian, I’m thankful for the peace I find in Jesus when I remember He’s got this handled. He was there, after all, when Venus was carefully placed in the evening sky like she has been lately, an abiding and silent reminder that there is One mightier than I who still makes order and beauty in the world. I’m grateful for that.


A  southwest Oklahoma sunset with Venus to the right of the tree

Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Jamie Wilson and her friends tearin’ up, Ain’t No Grave.

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


Ranch Rodeo From The Ranch Pen

Today, Gramps and I are taking a break at the Ranch Pen and heading to the Oklahoma Horse Fair and  Chisolm Trail Ranch Rodeo at Duncan, Oklahoma, which we try to do every year about this time. We enjoy hanging out with family and friends, making a serious dent in the goodies at the snack bar, visiting with people we know plus new acquaintances, and watching the horse and stock dog events.

So, until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy this clip of ranch rodeo in Texas, but Okies do it the same way.

Wind Farming At The Ranch Pen

Some people are opposed to wind turbines for a variety of reasons–they kill all the birds, they make too much noise, they’re ugly and a blot upon the face of the earth. All of those arguments have merit except the birds one, which is ridiculous. My granddaughter, Blondie, and I investigated that claim in the post Power To The Green People In Southwest Oklahoma. Our in-depth investigation revealed that cats are far more dangerous to birds than turbine blades. If I had my druthers, I’d rather not have three-hundred foot tall windmills everywhere, especially at night when the red, blinking lights are a distraction, but can we hold back the march of energy technology in an energy demanding world? Probably not. Wind energy is clean, constantly renewing, and efficient, and the turbines turning is oddly fascinating. (See video clip above, which I made one early morning a year or two ago.)

Recently, Gramps and I have been in intensive negotiations with the wind power company that have lasted for at least an hour. Basically, the present wind project where we live, the Rocky Ridge Wind Farm, is expanding right across some of our farms. The new phase is called the Big Elk, or Little Elk Something Something, I forget, now. We had hoped for a turbine or two since those generate a larger income for the landowners, but our neighbors are getting all of those. However, some underground power lines and overhead power lines are crossing the properties, so all hope of income is not lost. I decided to take some before project and after project pictures. I’ll try to update as the work commences for those who have never seen a wind farm under construction.


The wind turbine-less skyline


Proposed staging area for equipment and supplies


Proposed area for overhead power line

Wind farms tend to be built in sparsely populated areas–which also tend to be super-windy–so the impact on the population should be minimal. However, one person affected might be our crusty, octogenarian neighbor who lives on a small acreage carved from the middle of one of our farms (which used to belong to his parents back in ancient times.) He claims his property is protected by Smith and Wesson and I don’t think he’s kidding. For sure, I wouldn’t want him blasting away at me. Hmm…Could that be why they bypassed us with the turbines?

Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy these kids of Dave’s Highway doing a superfine job on Because He Lives.

Wintertime At The Ranch Pen

Sunrise at the Ranch Pen

Winter sunrise at the Ranch Pen

I haven’t done an iPhone photo montage for a while, so here we go with some pictures–such as they are–of the goin’s on at the Ranch Pen recently.

The picture above reminded me of Jesus’ words in the gospel of Matthew: It will be foul weather to day:for the sky is red and lowering. That amazing sky ushered in our first real snowfall this winter, for which we in this drought stricken land were mightily thankful.


Wet, nitrogen-rich snow + cattle on pastures= poor man’s fertilizer

Nellie on Patrol

Nellie on snow patrol. Best day ever in a lifetime of really, really good days

We also had some super-fine weather for my sister, the nephew, two nieces, and me to saddle up the horse herd and move some cattle from one pasture to another so Gramps could wean calves. If anyone has read my book Agnes Campbell’s Hat, they might remember two of the horses from the book–General and Sarge.


The niece, JA, with her horse, Sarge, and my sister’s bay, Bella, on the left

IMG_0727The niece, TL, holding Skippy and her horse, General


The nephew on Skippy


From atop my mare, Sis

The grandkids, Blondie and Git’RDone, got to ride later on the grandkid pony. Frisco weighs about three-hundred pounds, but he has Little Horse Syndrome, which is related to Little Man Syndrome. While little men often drive big trucks, little horses hustle big attitudes. Frisco thinks he is a wild stallion. At one point that afternoon, he headed for the barn at his rapid chop with Blondie astride. She got quite a ride, but stayed on. Good for her! When I was her age I hurtled off ponies many times at the rapid chop. She’s shaping up to be a fine rider and so is Git’RDone as you can see in the next picture.


And finally, SNACKS!–the best part of any day at the Ranch Pen. (The moth balls were to keep rodents out of my saddles and tack in the barn. The kids did not eat the moth balls. I don’t think. They did, however, put a pretty serious dent in the Chips Ahoys.)


Ladybug, Blondie, Roper, and Git’RDone, slugging down milk after a “dangerous mission” hunting for mean raccoons 

I hope you enjoyed the montage from the Ranch Pen and until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Nicole C Mullen doing her amazing song, Redeemer.

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my bog, I just love her singing.

Third Kid Syndrome At The Ranch Pen

The grandson, Tater, a third kid

The grandson, Tater, a third kid

I’ve had several questions lately about book three in the Love Is Not Enough series…How’s it coming along? When will you be done writing it?…etc.The truth of the matter is that even though I’m working off a draft and have the basic storyline fleshed out, I am dragging this third book up kicking and screaming from my toes. (I know…ew!) I plug away at it, but have no idea when it’ll be finished. I’m shooting for sometime this year.

A few days back, I was struck with a thought like a bag of bricks on the head:

This third book in my series is like a third kid!

When expecting Son #1’s blessed arrival over thirty years ago, I was very young and too dumb to know what was coming down the pike, so I had some nameless fears and dreads. Son #2 came along when #1 was still a baby and I was too busy to dwell on my not-so-nameless fears. But #3, now, yikes. I was nineteen by then, had the mothering thing partially figured out, and enough brain power to accommodate fully formed fears and dreads:

  • With two healthy boy children, surely something would be wrong with #3?
  • #1 and #2 were so cute and smart-ish, what if #3 was ugly and dumb?
  • #1 and #2 reduced me to raving lunacy on a regular basis…how could I possibly manage when #3 hove onto the scene?
  • And finally, what if #3 was another boy and not the girl who would decrease the ratio of males to female in the family and save me from overmuch testosterone exposure?

Fast forward thirty years to me–having left childbearing–bringing forth book number three. I’ve had some of the same types of fears and dreads:

  • Books 1 and 2 are surviving, what if Book 3 comes forth fatally flawed?
  • Books 1 and 2 don’t read too badly, but what if I accidentally write the same basic story and everybody grins too much? (As one of my favorite one star reviewers so graciously pointed out on Amazon.)
  • Books 1 and 2 used up a lot of brain power…how can I possibly have enough left to write Book 3 especially when real life has continued to sap my old grey matter?
  • And finally, what if Book 3 isn’t what my readers want and expect–a real stinker?

Well, in spite of my fears, our third son turned out to be a keeper, and his third son, Tater, did too, so..maybe the third book in the Love Is Not Enough series will be all right when I finally get it hauled up from my toes.

Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy the inimitable Alison Kraus singing this beautiful song, A Living Prayer.

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




Hamlet Kicking Stones At The Ranch Pen


Gramps chasing the neighbor’s cows away from the highway on the way home from church. Pardon the cow at the far right–she had to go real bad.

Not much news from the Ranch Pen this week and certainly nothing of brilliance in a world in dire need of brilliance.

This morning when I went out to feed my critters–at present horses, dog, cat, and chickens, although the grandkids are petitioning for pigs and goats, too–I walked past the feed truck Gramps had been using. A smear of blood and gore on the flatbed arrested my attention. Sure enough, Gramps had hauled away the carcass of a newborn calf. The little fellow looked perfect, but apparently hadn’t been able to draw a breath through the super-tough membrane covering its head. What a pity. And we might as well have thrown a $500 dollar bill in the fire, for that is what newborn calves are worth–or more–at the livestock auction at present.

I also missed my five ducks which used to greet me with an unbelievable racket each morning when I showed up to feed them, quacking away and waddling around on their little orange feet. Along with six hens, the ducks were senselessly murdered by a raccoon a few weeks ago. I’m still real put out about it even though our dog, Nellie, treed the ‘coon a few days later and Gramps grabbed his 12 gauge. That particular raccoon won’t be murdering any other helpless fowl. Have I mentioned I hate raccoons? If they ate their victims from need I might lighten up, but they just enjoy mass killing and leaving the dead in inglorious piles of bloody feathers.

Oh, yeah, and then there was the bomb threat at the Head Start in a little bitty town not far from us. A couple of brave criminals threatened to blow up the little kids then when the cops traced the number and showed up to find out what was going on, one of the criminals shot the cop in the chest several times. Thank God he was wearing a bullet proof vest. The law enforcement around here doesn’t get paid enough.

Hamlet and the Gravediggers, by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret image via wikipedia

Hamlet and the Gravediggers, by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret image via wikipedia

Last week, I read an audio book (read by Richard Armitage, ladies) called Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, which is a novelization of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Written in modern english, the story was missing most of the classic lines ingrained into our language today like: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”, “Brevity is the soul of wit”, “There is something rotten in Denmark”, and a bunch of others. In spite of that–and a weird  twist where Yorick, the dead court jester accompanies melancholy Hamlet around smart-mouthing–I enjoyed the book more than the play. The novel also retained Shakespeare’s theme of revenge gone badly awry.

This week, I read another audio book, Elie Wiesel’s, Night, the sad account of his experience as a teenage boy during the Holocaust. Perhaps that is why I’ve gone around in a funk “like Hamlet, kicking stones” (as P.G. Wodehouse says in one of his books). Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech is online and worth reading, as well, because even though it was written in 1986 about events that happened in the 1940’s it is still frighteningly relevant when we look at today’s headlines.

Until next time, be happy and God bless all y’all. To make up for me going around like Hamlet kicking stones, here’s Matt Maher having way much fun with his friends doing All The People Said Amen.

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blot, I just like his music