Never Too Late For Black Eyed Peas At The Ranch Pen

Nellie, portrait of a new mom

For the first Ranch Pen post of 2016, I’ve got great news. Just before Christmas, our border collie, Nellie, gave birth to her puppies in the dumbest spot ever, a den she dug under an old trailer top in the garden which sits FOUR INCHES OFF THE GROUND. Previous to the birth, the fit was so tight, she got stuck. After she finally managed to squeeze out, I blocked the entrance of her prospective birthing site with rolls of barbed wire secured by fence posts. Surely, that would force her to use her nice, roomy, warm doghouse for her maternal nest? Wrong. Somehow, she nosed the barbed wire and posts aside and continued her swell plan. Lying on her side, she clawed her way ten feet into the darkness where she had–I make it four, the grandkids make it five–puppies. However, we won’t know for sure until they appear at the mouth of the den on their own. At present, we can hear them grunting fatly and since Nellie scrapes out of her chosen home looking haggard and careworn, I assume she is mothering the little fellows in her addled way.

The den entrance where we will meet Nellie’s puppies in a few weeks, or a month

Granddaughters Ladybug and Blondie, and grandsons Roper and Git’R’Done

Christmastime brought grandkids for cookie making, and Son #3’s family came home for Christmas week. We had a blast. Christmas morning is so much better with kids in the house. Usually, it’s just Gramps and me.

Gramps on typical Christmas: (yawning) Thanks for the socks. I was needing some.

Danni: Yeah. Thanks for the gift card. I told you not to buy me anything.

Gramps: Ha. You didn’t actually think I’d make that mistake again, did you…?

This year was great, though. We woke to the grandson, Einstein, flinging open the bedroom door with a jolly, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” A few minutes later, the youngest grandson, Tater, took down a plastic candy cane full of Skittles and washed it down with Mountain Dew. The soda was the kind made from pure cane sugar instead of corn syrup, so we counted it as a health drink of sorts. It certainly seemed to give Tater an energy boost.



Later, while the daughters-in-law cooked Christmas dinner, three of the the grandson’s and I loaded up the BB guns and went rabbit hunting–the perfect arrangement since I do like to be outside with grandkids and I don’t like to cook.

Einstein, Kevman, and Roper examining a mysterious kill

Later that weekend, we got another storm even though we had barely finished cleaning up from the ice storm on Thanksgiving weekend. First, lots of rain, then an inch or so of freezing rain, then a blizzard with sustained high winds then another inch or so of freezing rain atop all that like frosting on top of our proverbial cupcake.  We lost our power again like we did during the Thanksgiving ice storm, but this time the problem was so widespread across the southern plains that the electric company told us it’d be two-three weeks before we got back online. Gramps hauled out the old generator once more and we were functional. But imagine our happiness when only five days later our juice was back on! Bliss. Our linemen are awesome. All us country ladies love those guys that get out there and work in truly wretched conditions to get us powered up again. Just for kicks, here’s a link to Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman which was one of my favorite songs when I was a girl. (Hm. Could that explain why I want to weep with joy when the lights come back on, and give the linemen cookies, and hug them, too?)

Gramps and Son #2 couldn’t get to some of the farms for several days because of drifts across the roadways, but all our cattle weathered the blizzard all right because they had windbreaks or shelter of some sort. Below, our other dog, Trace, (happily NOT the father of Nellie’s pups,) is waiting in vain for traffic to chase.

Snowdrifts completely filled portions of the horse pen, leaving the fences buried.

Frisco on a five foot drift

The grandkids’ pony, Frisco, on a five foot drift

My mare, Sis, considering escape

My mare, Sis, considers making a break for it

An oddity of ice

By New Years Eve Gramps had gotten us dug out, so as devout, ultra-conservative Christians, we headed for the bright lights of our church gathering and gorged ourselves at the snack table, washing our gluttony down with soft drinks and water. We joined our rowdy friends in raucous laughter amongst the puzzle-putting-together table, the intense Phase Ten (I believe) game, and the kids having a rousing snowball fight outside. After that, exhausted by our surfeiting, Gramps and I left our party and reeled home at 9:30 p.m. where we fell into bed and promptly zonked, seeing in the new year from the insides of our eyelids.

By dawn on New Years Day 2016, Gramps and I had pretty much recovered from the toll our New Years Eve festivities had taken on us, and we went back to work, making no particular concessions to the date except we took down a can of black eyed peas with our supper in the time-honored southern tradition of eating the nasty things for good luck. Last year I think we forgot, which might explain a few things. Anyway, we should be set to tackle 2016, now, and remember, it’s never too late to eat black eyed peas. They are seriously nutritious and if you add a nice ham bone and some cornbread, they’re actually fairly tasty.

Until next time, God bless all y’all in 2016 and enjoy Southern Raised doing an awesome job on I’ll Have a New Life.


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