Camper Van Envy At The Ranch Pen

Gramps and Danni’s sweet camper van at a rest stop in Oregon

Ok, so it’s been a few weeks since I posted, but today the Ranch Pen is back, wanting to know what is the first thing that pops into your head at the sight of the camper van in the above picture?

It’s, Sweet! That is such a cool camper van, and I wish I had one, too, isn’t it?

I knew it! None of you cracked up laughing–but secretly envious, no doubt–at the slight resemblance to Uncle Rico’s camper van on the movie, Napoleon Dynamite. (below)


Several months ago–with a west-coast family reunion looming–Gramps hopped on Craigslist and located us an economically priced camper van and we ended up driving her home after a payment transaction that took place in a small building with bars on the windows and big guys lurking around. Some of my thoughts were–not necessarily in this order–

  • oh, dear
  • Craigslist scams
  • how’d we get this old and stay so dumb?
  • No, it’s worse. Mexican cartel
  • Godhavemercywhatarewedoing
  • money laundering
  • allthatstuffontvmustbetrueandwe’reprobablygoingtoendupdead
  • Ok, whew. Possibly just identity theft
  • Have we been on the farm too long?

I will say the city fellas seemed to be impressed that we were farmers, however I still can’t recommend the experience to non-farmers. But that is a whole ‘nother story, as they say.

Anyway, we legally–I hope–obtained our super-sweet, new-to-us van and safely sped away. Gramps rigged it out with a custom farmer-job luggage carrier–a toolbox from the farm supply store–we gathered up our oldest grandson, Kevman, and we were off on our excellent adventure across twelve states.

Hopefully, I can write a post or two about our travels in the coming weeks, but for right now, just to give a taste of the wide range of camper vans and RVs out there that are even more excellent than ours–or, Uncle Rico’s–I grabbed these pictures off the RV Share website. You can click the link to view other astonishing RV pictures, but these seven were my personal favorites.

#7 The Clunky Chrysler Camper. My parents drove a Chrysler when I was a kid and I can’t believe my dad didn’t think of rigging it out with a camper like that.

chrysler rvs

#6 The Dodge Ram Dually Stretch Camper. We drive Dodge trucks here on our farm/ranch operation and there are always one or two of them waiting to die. What better use could Gramps resurrect them to than an outfit like that below? Outstanding! Plenty of room for all seven grandkids, no less.

dodge limo

#5 The Cuter-N-A-Bug Camper. Aw…It’s SO cute! I love those colors together. Maybe I like this one because I’m a girl.

volks rv

#4 The Schoolbus Tent Trailer Condo Camper. As a farm woman whose chickens live in an old school bus, I am absolutely in awe. Why didn’t Gramps think of that use for our bus? We could’ve housed the chickens in an old train car, or something.

school bus rv

#3 The Economy Car Camper. This one made me snort my tea up my nose, but then the brilliance of it hit me and my thoughts began to race with possibilities for our old Dodge Intrepid car. A while back our Intrepid (my late father-in-law called it an Interpid) was croaked out beside the road and some doofus stopped and offered $200 for it as salvage.  Begone, Sir Scavenger! We will fashion our own Interpid Camper Car before accepting that outrageously insulting offer.

crazy rvs

#2 The Weenie Dog Camper Car This one just makes me happy. What a funny outfit!

olds rv

#1 The Camper Plane Traveling just couldn’t get any better than driving down the open-road in that rig. Amazing. What wonders must the inside of that machine hold? I wish they had at least left some little stub wings on it, though.

plane camper

Which of these RVs are your favorites? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Until next time, thanks so much for reading again. God bless all y’all and enjoy For King and Country singing Fix My Eyes.


Sight For Sore Eyes At The Ranch Pen


Life is crazy busy at the Ranch Pen right now and I don’t have much this week, but Gramps has been layin’ down our hay crop–as we call cutting hay out here–and I caught the pretty picture above. That particular field is triticale–a hybrid cross of wheat and rye, good for cattle forage.

Some of the years in recent past have reminded me of the Old Testament verse in Deuteronomy:

And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron…

But this year, thankfully, we’ve had good moisture through the winter and spring and the hay and wheat crops are looking good, the cows are fat, and it’s a sight for sore eyes to all the farmers and ranchers in this area.

Until next time, God bless all y’all, and if you don’t do anything else today listen to Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum singing this beautiful song, Thy Will.


Just Stroking The Ol’ Chin Whisker At The Ranch Pen

image via somewhere on the internet

image via somewhere on the internet

I was going to write one of my countrified odes such as Ode To a Green Cow Dog, Ode To a Little Goat (deceased), and Trumpet of the Schwan Man in honor of National poetry month, but couldn’t think of anything that rhymed with orange, so abandoned that idea.

Then I sat brainstorming (I use the term loosely) other blog post ideas. Hmm… Maybe I could share my mushroom growing experiment with step by step pictures, including the ones with the mold? No. Limited interest since they were just plain mushrooms and not the psychedelic kind.

Maybe other spring chores I’ve been attending, such as house and yard cleaning…?

Painting old furniture with chalk paint…?

What all is going on with the crops and cattle…?


I stroked my chin whisker deep in thought. That’s when the thought hit me.

I seriously need to pluck that thing.

Then I argued with myself. Naw. I’ll have to get up and find the tweezers and nobody’ll notice one little whisker except Gramps, anyway.

But…he wouldn’t have married me if he had known I’d have whiskers in thirty-five years. You know he wouldn’t have.

Good grief. What am I thinking? He didn’t have that weird eyebrow hair back then, either. Or, hair in his ears. That’s what I’ll tell him if he brings it up.

Oh, piddle. Now, this whisker’s gonna drive me nuts…

Excuse me one second…

Okay, back again. We have entered the God-have-mercy season–otherwise known as tornado season–here in Oklahoma. There have been some weak twisters in the areas north and south of us, but all we’ve had are thunderstorms, so far. A few evenings ago, a thunderstorm rolled through and when it left, the light was just right for the super cool pictures below.




The next pictures are from a different storm and these clouds had hatched some tornados and large hail before they reached us. They were still lazily rotating overhead.



As always, thanks for reading and until next time, everybody stay safe in the storms. God bless all y’all and enjoy Casting Crowns singing Praise You In This Storm.

Green People At The Ranch Pen

Wind Tower

Since a lot of people are getting geared up for Earth Day, today is a re-post of one I did in 2013.


Contrary to what some in today’s media would have everyone believe, farmers and ranchers are not out to destroy the planet. We are the original earth people. Why? Because we make our living from…well, the earth, and we’d be the first ones to go down if we crashed the planet.

From time to time, Gramps and I might feel some annoyance with militant animal rights groups who make the difficult job of feeding the world even harder for livestock producers, but we’re actually very green out here in southwestern Oklahoma, living as we do in the midst of a wind farm.

The Rocky Ridge Wind Project has 93 turbines spread across about 18,000 acres, and it produces enough power for about 40,000 homes, harnessing our biggest resource out here–the wind.

However, like most concerned green people, I’m worried about the number of birds those massive wind turbine blades strike down. Our granddaughter, Blondie, and I sat out to investigate one day last week.

I am presently unmounted since I wrecked my horse–or he wrecked me, more accurately–but Gramps rides a Cat, so we hopped on it.

K On Four Wheeler

We visited several turbines and found no dead birds–not even love birds which was what Gramps was most worried about–but we scared up several large flocks of blackbirds, took note of happy meadowlark pairs, and even spotted a hawk cruising around. (On a sad, but related, note–there was a pile of scattered feathers in the yard of our house where a cat or dog had feasted in the past.)

These turbines are about 300' tall.

These turbines are about 300′ tall.

For those of you who wonder about the sound these turbines makes, I’ve included a short video.

The closest turbines to our house are a mile-and-a-half away, so I don’t mind them too much. The sun flashing off the blades as they turn is slightly hypnotic and they generate some badly needed revenue in our rural counties. The part I dislike most is the blinking red lights on top of the towers at night. Very distracting.

In conclusion, Blondie and I discovered Southwest Oklahoma birds are not dumb enough to let wind turbine blades cut them down, but they often cannot outsmart cats.

But What Do Y’all Think?

  • Would you like to live in a wind farm project?
  • Do blinking red lights distract you when you’re looking at the stars? (And…um…have you ever mistaken them for the mother ship’s landing lights? Just curious, because the other night–I mean… Oh, well. Never mind.)
  • Are all birds dumb, or just the…er…endangered ones?



Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Tenore doing This Is My Father’s World.

An Aging Hobbit At The Ranch Pen

image of Hobbit house  via somewhere on the internet

image of Hobbit house via somewhere on the internet

April is poetry month, so to kick it off, I’ll post this one I’ve been thinking of lately. It’s from one of J R R Tolkien’s  Lord of the Ring books–I forget which one–and is supposed to be written by the character, Bilbo Baggins. Anyway, I think Bilbo as an aging Hobbit did a bang up job with his poem and I hope y’all enjoy it, too.

I Sit And Think

I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been; Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.
I sit beside the fire and think of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring that I shall ever see.
For still there are so many things that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring there is a different green.
I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago,
and people who will see a world that I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet and voices at the door.
~J R R Tolkien~

Thanks for reading, and until next time God bless all y’all and enjoy listening to this talented young lady, Adelle McAllister, who set the poem to music.


In A Nutshell At The Ranch Pen

comic in John Deere's magazine, The Furrow

I don’t have much time this week because spring has sprung in southwest Oklahoma, but I saw this funny cartoon in John Deere’s complimentary (with a fifty-thousand-dollar purchase) magazine called The Furrow and it inspired the blog post as the weirdest things sometimes do.

In a nutshell–or egg shell–we have good news. The lazy chickens finally got off their tail feathers and started laying after taking the winter off, so our eggs are rapidly becoming more affordable. The first egg or two we got a couple weeks ago probably came in at about eighty bucks apiece. Now? Approximately twenty-dollars a dozen. They’re really tasty, though.



fresh eggs

Also, we’ve got two of the finest things in life coming along–asparagus and rhubarb. Southwestern Oklahoma summers are unfriendly to rhubarb, but as a transplant from the cooler climes of Colorado, I’ve babied mine along for the past couple of decades. In a nutshell, the occasional rhubarb pie is reward enough for the effort.





I’ve decided not to grow a real garden because of a horrible tomato virus in the ground of my garden spot, so I planted some veggies in these grow bags.


kale, brussels sprouts, and tomato plants in grow bags

In a nutshell, I think those super nifty grow bags are destined to failure because of the gardening enthusiast pictured below. Many times, I have gone out of a morning to find Nellie has been busily uprooting my pots while I slept.  She always looks puzzled while I reel around clutching my head and howling with disappointment and rage.

Nellie, the nosiest dog in the world

Nellie, the nosiest dog in the world

Nellie’s brother, Trace, got an unfortunate haircut around the head and neck before I gave up and ordered some better clippers. He doesn’t seem particularly troubled about looking like he narrowly escaped Todd Sweeney, the deranged barber in the story The String of Pearls, who dispatches his victims by pulling a lever as they sit in his barber chair and lets them fall backward down a revolving trapdoor into the basement of his shop. Generally, the fall is enough to do them in, but Sweeney goes to the basement to make sure. If they haven’t croaked, he polishes them off with his clippers straight razor. After Todd robs his victims, Mrs. Lovett–his partner in crime–helps him dispose of the bodies by baking their flesh into meat pies and selling them in her pie shop. (You may read more about that in Wikipedia. That’s what I do.)

Unfortunate Trace

Trace, unfortunate, but not baked into a savory meat pie, at least

Speaking of unfortunate. A few days ago, I stooped to pick up something near the fish pond and almost picked up the garden snake pit viper lying there with a frog in its mouth. Both frog and viper seemed puzzled by me jumping around screaming and doing my freak-out dance. Apparently, the frog was too far down the gullet to spit out, so the pit viper hoisted it into the air using all the muscles in its thumb-sized neck and laboriously slid away to dine in private while I threw things at it. In a nutshell, it’s hard to hit a viper while leaping about.

Bearing that in mind, look at the box hedge below. Looks pretty harmless, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s the home of that same pit viper, or a close relative. I did not know that until I was trimming the hedge with the electric hedge clippers and the viper poked up its head to warn me away. Screaming and jabbing with the hedge clippers clattering away on high speed, I determined to dispatch the puzzled viper for once and all. It’s hard to cut off a viper’s head while leaping about. I’m pretty sure it escaped, but I didn’t return to make sure. In a nutshell, I’m no Todd Sweeney.

The viper pit

The viper pit

The next two pictures are just for purty.

Winter wheat in southwest OK with wind turbines in background

Winter wheat in southwest OK with wind turbines in background

Cattle on spring pasture, a beautiful sight in southwest OK

Cattle on spring pasture, a beautiful sight in southwest OK

That’s it in a nutshell. Until next time, thanks for reading and God bless all y’all while you enjoy Geoff Moore doing When I Get Where I’m Goin’.





Good Friday At The Ranch Pen


For Gramps and me as Christians, Easter weekend is the best time of the year at the Ranch Pen. On Good Friday, we reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins by suffering on the cross, dying, and descending to the tomb. Then on Sunday we rejoice because Our Lord didn’t stay in that grave, but arose and is living still. That means everything to us. As we celebrate that empty tomb, our prayer is that God will bless all y’all this Easter weekend.