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.

Speak Softly And Carry A Big Stick At The Ranch Pen



Speak softly and carry a big stick~Theodore Roosevelt

The format for today’s post in case you’re afraid it’s just another political rant:

  • Political rant
  • Old people story
  • A heads-up about coffee and elephant dung
  • advice for preachers
  • the latest in rural fashion
  • Draft horse barrel racing
  • An opinion poll and a really cute grandkid

Do you feel safe? Neither do I

Usually I try to avoid politics, but I feel like the world is imploding around me. We have public beheadings of Americans, we have persecutions of Christian people on every hand, we have terrorists gaining strength at a terrifying rate, we have ebola and other diseases and it seems to me like it’s because the government is hamstrung by social engineering and politically correct mumbo jumbo to the point no strong action can be taken on anything–not even to try to keep the tax base citizens of this country safe.

As a girl growing up out on the farm, and then later as a smallish, ultra-conservative Christian woman raising boys and living in a man’s world, I pretty much adopted Teddy Roosevelt’s motto: Speak softly and carry a big stick. It was usually a figurative big stick, but in drastic situations it was literal. I didn’t get a lot of back talk.

Today, you know who I miss? President George W and the big stick he carried.

Old people problems

St Louis arch

View from the bottom of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis

Recently, Gramps and I drove our old people car to St. Louis where we didn’t see any riots. That, however, doesn’t mean there weren’t any. It just means we didn’t see them because we were too busy trying to get un-lost most of the time. We stopped for lunch at a Steak and Shake where we met a young man with family in a small town eleven miles from our house.  All roads lead back to Oklahoma, I kid you not. At Steak and Shake, I tossed back a lot of iced tea, forgetting about the old lady bladder I own. The tea was delicious.


We left Steak and Shake in our old people car and drove over to the Gateway Arch. We parked in an underground parking garage then wandered toward the arch, which was a pretty long hike. We were accosted by some people handing out pamphlets and practicing some type of yoga-ish poses. Even though I admired the grit in their gizzards it must take to accost old people on vacation, I always do not like to be accosted by pamphlet bearers. Gramps and I avoided eye contact and hurried away. We arrived at the base of the arch looking lost and confused (see above). There were no restrooms in sight. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t any–it means we didn’t see any. As a result, our visit to the arch–one of the seven wonders of the modern world–was cut short by the demands of the old lady bladder. We retraced our steps at speed, flashing past the yoga people so fast they could only flutter their pamphlets at us with a despairing cry.

No Need To Thank Me

Today, Gramps was away at noon, so I read the World magazine while eating my lunch. Imagine my surprise to see pictorial evidence that in northern Thailand, people feed elephants coffee beans then dig through the fresh elephant dung for any undigested ones. The repurposed recovered coffee beans are flavored by the elephant’s digestive process making Black Ivory Coffee the “world’s rarest and most expensive coffee”. After studying the picture, I was almost sure I tasted something foul in my salad.

Advice for preachers

In another World magazine, I came across this excellent advice to preachers: “Don’t touch the girls, don’t touch the gold, and don’t touch the glory.”

The girls of the Ranch Pen–human and equine–sporting the latest in rural fashion



Like riding a tank

My blogger friend, Liz, from Mad Bush Farm in New Zealand, turned me on to draft horse barrel racing, which I had never seen before, but find fascinating. The power beneath those saddles is unbelievable and the horses look like they are much harder to handle than the run-of-the-mill mount. Give it a quick watch and see what you think.

Results of the opinion poll


The votes are in and according to the latest opinion poll out here at the Ranch Pen, the government’s job isn’t to win votes for a particular party, satisfy lobbyists, or cram our kids’ heads full of politically correct claptrap. Government’s main job should be protecting its’ citizenry from enemies, foreign and domestic–citizens like the little grandson, Tater, and all the other precious ones like him.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest and until next time, God keep all y’all safe from disease and meanness in this ol’ world, and enjoy David Wesley singing Whom Shall I Fear.

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


Mind Barf From The Ranch Pen

No More Mind Barf

While some people in this age of ebooks are churning out three or more books per year, Danni McGriffith Super-slow-author is not. I always think, “I should crank out more books like those prolific people do!”. Then I look at the scientific formula below (that I made up just now and metaphorically taped to my forehead) to remind myself why that ain’t a good idea.

3-4 books/year by Danni McGriffith=Mind Vomit


3-4 books/year by Danni McGriffith=Danni’s personal journal

Below I’ve included a fill-in-the-blank sample entry from my personal journal to prove my point.

Oct __

Woke up from a nightmare where I killed ___wearing only my___. Feeling mentally unhinged and prickly toward___. My___hurts. I also have a strange pain in my___. Clear skies, high south wind, 99*.

Obviously, I should confine the mind barf to the journal and the blog and write my way through my books at a snail’s pace. Which is what I am doing on the third book in my Love Is Not Enough series.

One of the main characters in this book is Annie DeRossi Campbell, an emotionally frozen young Navajo woman who is reluctantly coming unfrozen. Almost everything about her goes on beneath the surface. She’s an exhausting personality for the other characters to deal with and she’s an exhausting personality to write. However, I want her to be okay, so I’ll keep trying with her. You can read more about Annie’s origins here.

While we’re on the book topic, people have asked whether there will be a follow-up to my novel geared toward the younger set, Agnes Campbell’s Hat. I plan to write one, but have not started it yet. If only there were more hours in the day, or more and younger brain cells sparking around in the old cranium!

Finally, the first book in the Love Is Not Enough series, The Cedar Tree, was free for a few days this week. It made number two on the Amazon top 100 free books in the Western and Frontier slot and top ten in Family Sagas, so thank you very much to anyone who downloaded a copy. I really appreciate it. Remember, too, anyone with an Amazon Prime membership or Kindle Unlimited can borrow my books for free on their Kindle and if you have paid for a download, you can share it with a friend or family member on their Kindle for free, as well.

Until next time, thanks so much for reading. God Bless all y’all and enjoy David Wesley doing The Stand.

This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse the blog, I just love his music. If you do, too, you can download it on iTunes.


The Most Precious Natural Resource At The Ranch Pen


The news headlines scream disaster and death at us every day, breathing worry and distress in our faces–even in Oklahoma with the horrible beheading (I can hardly bear to write the word) of that poor woman in Moore last week. I am not a preacher, but as an ultra-conservative Christian woman, I strain the events around me through the truth of my Bible and find hope in Jesus.

This week, I attended an event with my daughters-in-law, grandkids, and their homeschoolers’ group sponsored by the NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service), which is a division of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). The NRCS  was established in the Dust Bowl days of the 1930’s to help farmers and ranchers preserve their land that was blowing away because of poor farming practices in an extended drought. Today, the NRCS still helps farmers and ranchers manage and conserve their farm and grass lands, soil, and water. Our county NRCS agents have worked with Gramps and I on our farming/ranching operation many times over the years with sound advice (most of the agents are farmers or ranchers themselves) and cost-sharing grants to drill wells and plant grass on erosion-prone crop ground.

The NRCS event was aimed at third grade age kids. Several of the nearby public schools had bussed students to the outdoor classroom the NRCS had set up near a lake. They had also accommodated the home school group’s third graders. What they may not have known is, in the homeschooling world, if the third grader goes, so does the fifth grader, the first grader, mom, the baby, and maybe even grandma. Another thing they may not have known is home schooled kids learn hands-on. Everything their mothers/teachers do is an educational experience, so at each learning station, the kids mobbed the teachers, getting up in their business with their hands all over everything and asking rapid-fire questions.


At learning station one, an NRCS agent talked to the kids about land and water conservation, cutting up an apple representing the earth until only a tiny sliver remained to show the portion of land on earth able to produce crops. He also ended up showing the kids that one drop of water out of all the water on earth was the share of water in Oklahoma.

Gun safety

Gun safety at learning station two

The little girl at the left knew so much about guns she could have taught a hunter’s safety course. The grandkids, Roper, Ladybug, and Blondie are spellbound by guns, too. I think the game warden was somewhat taken aback by the gun knowledge in the group.

Station Three--hides and skulls

Station Three–skins and skulls

The skins and skulls station was a big hit with the kids. The instructor showed them a lot of hides from different animals native to Oklahoma and had them guess which animal each of the skulls had once belonged to. They learned about predators and prey, carnivores and omnivores. All of the kids felt their own canine teeth to make sure they were predators. Many of them also had varmint hunting stories to share with the instructor.


Station Four was all about pollinators native to Oklahoma. The teacher was a biologist whose job was managing the grasslands in that area, so he knew a lot about the plant, insect, and animal life.

Even though I don’t have a picture of this one, Station Five was all about soil, which I found fascinating since we make our living from it. I’m not sure the kids were as interested, but they did like the NRCS agent’s hydraulic core sample machine mounted on the side of his pickup. He pulled a soil sample from about five feet down in the ground. Four-year-old Grandson, Git R Done, told his dad later that he learned dirt was actually soil.

Station Six--Quail mamgement

Station Six–This lady taught quail management


Playing a wildlife management game–some kids are quail, some predators

Station Six was about quail management and how overpopulation of any one species can be detrimental. Nature has a way of evening the balance of everything which the instructor attempted to show through a game involving more quail than predators, then more predators than quail. The game was complete mayhem, but they all seemed to enjoy it. (Except, possibly, the teacher.)

Ladybug eating the lesson on wetlands

Ladybug eating the lesson on wetlands


Station Seven was a lesson about wetlands (rare in western Oklahoma these days) and their importance. The teacher asked the kids to tell her some of the animal life found in wetlands. The kids ventured a lot of guesses which included sharks and crocodiles, but the cutest one was from three-year-old Ladybug: Mermaids. The teacher then used a layer of chocolate cereal to represent the lower soil layer, chocolate pudding the mud, blue cool-whip the water, pretzel stick cattails, and then green sugar duckweed–the ecosystem of the wetlands. Then she gave a cup of the lesson to each kid to eat. Very clever.

Station Eight was taught by a park ranger. She was really good with the kids and taught them how to respect national park lands. Then she used pictures of animals to teach them the difference between domesticated animals and wildlife. I don’t have a picture of Station Eight since the temperature had risen to near one-hundred degrees and everybody was tired and ready to go home, including the oldest lady in the group (moi).


a little cutie whose name I don’t know and grandkids Git R Done, Ladybug, and Roper

And the last picture–hope for the future in our most precious natural resource: Our kids.

Thanks so much for reading and until next time, God bless all y’all while you listen to this one gifted man singing, I have decided to follow Jesus.

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.