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.

 

Bootcamp At The Ranch Pen

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I’ve been covered up with work here at the Ranch Pen, so the blog has kinda been neglected. We had a lot of rain through May and June, which was greatly welcomed, but all that water shocked this droughty country into massive vegetation growth, and plagues of frogs (seriously), flies, rabbits, and creepy, crawling critters of every variety.

I’ve also been running periodic summer bootcamps Fun Weeks for the six grandkids who are old enough–Kevman, Blondie, Roper, Einstein, Git’R’Done, and Ladybug. (The youngest of the pack, Tater, is only a yearling and a mama’s boy to boot, so he is not even invited to Nana’s bootcamp, yet.) We start the week with excited plans. We abandon a healthy diet for one high in sugar and fat. We make art projects. We play in the pool. We have a little play on electronic devices. We make playhouses in the yard. We “train” the horses, take care of livestock, play with the dogs. We look at the stars and talk about God. We live dangerously, go places, do things. It’s all good.

At the beginning of Bootcamp Fun Week we have conversations like this:

Danni: Well, just try not to wet your pants again, okay?

Grandkid: Okay.

Toward the end of the week, the conversation has devolved to something like this:

Danni: What?! You wet your pants again. Why’d you do that?

Grandkid: I couldn’t make it back to the house in time.

Danni: Well, good lands. You’re out here on the farm, just go outside.

Grandkid has big eyes but doesn’t say anything, no doubt remembering mother’s commands not to drop his drawers outside like a barbarian.

Sorry ’bout that daughters-in-law.

No, we have a good time. I eavesdrop on them and laugh. Two of our grandsons are five-years-old. I don’t know if it’s their age, their sex, or their last name, but I overheard these two comments to no one in particular:

Grandson Git’R’Done energetically playing Fruit Ninja on an electronic device: I am really good at this!

Grandson Einstein playing Angry Birds on an electronic device: I keep doing so good at this!

They make up truly horrible jokes, too, such as this one I wrote down verbatim at the lunch table while they gobbled a made to order variety of junky food:

“Hey, what do you call soap with a coyote on it?”

Like so many stand up comedians, the young joke teller found his audience a hard sell, so he kept repeating the joke, trying to rouse a response. “Hey, what do you call soap with a coyote on it? Hey. Hey, guys. Hey, what’d’ya call soap with a coyote on it?”

My heart squeezed with pity lest his fragile ego suffer a blow, so I said, “What do you call soap with a coyote in it?”

“I wasn’t talking to you, Nana. Hey, Roper, what do you call soap with a coyote on it, huh?”

“Roper, listen to his joke,” I said, my ego stinging.

“Hey, Roper, what do you call soap with a coyote on it?”

Roper sighs heavily. “What?”

“A Doritos coyote soap!”

Duh! What else?

Ladybug–who is three–and I were the only ones who laughed, but that sparked more bad jokes, a run on the Doritos, and an overturned soda. We had to mop up the spill and stop joking around at the table, but I wouldn’t trade those kids in for anything on this side of the grave.

Until next time,  God bless, take time to delight in the kids in your life, and enjoy the Oak Ridge Boys doing Thank God For Kids.

 

The Lord’s Prayer At The Ranch Pen

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Sunrise at the ranch pen

As we wind up National Poetry Month here at the Ranch Pen, I’ll share what is, in my opinion, the loveliest prayer in poetry form ever. Also known as The Lord’s Prayer, these verses are from the Gospel of Matthew in the Holy Bible.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.

Amen

I hope you’ve enjoyed poetry at the Ranch Pen this month as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing it, and until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy the guys of Veritas singing The Lord’s Prayer.

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.

[youtube.com/watch?v=a1ThSi1wbqU]

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.

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.

[youtube.com/watch?v=RPBCwMf0TjQ]

No Frozen Blood In The Ice Maker, Thank Goodness

IMG_6113The grandson, Kevman, celebrating summer

After an extremely late take-off for southwest Oklahoma, it’s finally summer. We’ve got the heat. We’ve got the kids’ pool set up. We’ve got the chiggers. And we’ve got cookouts when the wind is thirty-miles-per-hour, or less.

(Just an FYI. If you are thinking about a Polygroup Pro swimming pool, it has the dumbest filter thingy ever. In fact the whole setup to our sand filter and salt thingy had to be farmer-jobbed, as we call it down here on the farm when something is all cobbled together.)

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Cousins, Einstein and Git R Done celebrate summer

Then there was the day when bloody looking stuff–like frozen blood–started coming out the ice maker on the refrigerator. I immediately thought, “Oh, sweet goodness! Somebody has lost a hand in the ice maker.” All of the grandkids still had their appendages, however, and on further investigation, the frozen blood proved to be a red popsicle grinding up in the ice maker. But what if…?! My fiction writer’s brain jumped straight to hair-raising and mind-boggling plots. My summer got way better.

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Our barn cat, Tip, had three kittens in the day lily bed. They are having a good summer BECAUSE…

Our dog, Nellie broke her leg and can’t chew kittens right now. Last week, a neighboring farmer pulled into our driveway and accidentally hit Nellie with his pickup, breaking her leg. Very sad. No more cooling off in the fish pond because of her cast, so we keep the ground damp in the shade next to her dog house. She lays and watches the birds fly by and the wheat trucks and cars roar past, bored stiff. She’s starting to feel frisky again, which is good, but I fear she is going to drive me crazy trying to keep her calm over the next weeks while she heals.

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Danni, preparing to talk about her new book

Next week, sometime, maybe,if nothing interferes and the Good Lord is willing’, I will post about my new book, Wailing Woman Creek.

Until next time, God bless all y’all and Nellie, this one’s for you…Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol.

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog, this is just Nellie’s favorite song.