Top Ranch Pen Posts Of 2014–#1

Finally, the number one most viewed post makes me laugh. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined anyone would turn to my blog for technical advice, but there we have it. Just call me the female Bill Gates of the rural blogosphere. Hopefully, you’ll find these instructions helpful, too, if you have a 4S or 5S iPhone. I don’t know if they’re still relevant for the 6 models. Since writing my techie post about it, I prefer this super-clunky way of making my phone read from the Kindle app, but I don’t know…I might be persuaded to use an easier method if some giant brain figures out how to activate the feature straight from the app.


Today is my first ever techie post: How To Get Your iPhone To Read Your Kindle Books And Magazines To You Even Though It Seems Like There Should Be An Easier Way To Do It. (Like straight from the Kindle App. I’m just sayin’.) If you have your Kindle read aloud to you a lot, you might find it handy to have your books read from your iPhone, too.

Screenshot from World Magazine on Kindle App for iPhone

Random screenshot from World Magazine on my Kindle App for iPhone. Your iPhone will read this to you.

Everybody who knows me is laughing their heads off that I would tackle a tech issue, but this is something daughter-in-law #2 and I have been trying to figure out for a while. Finally, Eureka! If I’m the last iPhone/Kindle reader left alive who didn’t know how to do this, please be kind–I’m not as young as I used to be.

Step #1: Open your Kindle App to whatever book or article you want read aloud.

Step #2: Then hold down the home button to activate SIRI.

Step #3: Tell Siri to turn on VoiceOver.

(When Siri turns on VoiceOver, the phone is controlled by voice commands.)

Step #4: Hold home button to activate Siri again. Tell her to open Kindle App. She will open Kindle to the page you previously opened.

Step #5: Tap the screen. Then double tap the screen to get rid of the Kindle menu.

Step #6: Swipe two fingers down the screen and VoiceOver will begin reading aloud in a female voice. (You might have to try a few times. My phone was very uncooperative until I figured it out.)

Step #7: When you have finished reading, be sure to de-activate VoiceOver by holding down your iPhone’s home button and telling Siri to turn off VoiceOver.

No need to thank any of us down here at the Ranch Pen–especially if we’re the last ones to figure out that nifty trick.

Until next time, God bless all y’all and tell your iPhone to read you some good books.


I hope y’all have enjoyed the most viewed posts from the Ranch Pen and as we launch into the new year, I pray God’s blessings on all of you. Enjoy a final Christmas song, The Piano Guys tearin’ up Carol Of The Bells.

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ’em.

Top Ranch Pen Posts Of 2014–#2

The second most viewed post of 2014 surprised me because its the exact same as last year’s–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow And Hey! What’re You Doing To My Tractor? I still don’t know what drives the viewers to this particular page, but they’re probably poets who appreciate my brilliant re-do of Mr. Wadsworth’s The Wreck Of The Hesperus–Wait. What’s that? You think my do-over stinks and is a desecration of a work of poetical genius? Oh, dear…Sorry. Lots of static on the blog. You’re breakin’ up real bad. Can you hear me now? No…?

Rats, must’ve lost her. Oh, well, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t a farm gal or she would’ve enjoyed the pictures, at least.



I’ve recycled the following pictures from an email–an oldie, but a goodie–that circulated amongst us ranchers and farmers a year or two ago. We all chuckled. And winced. And remembered when one of the kids, or the ex hired man, or even–goodness sakes–the owner/operator buried the tractor.

For those of you who drive around on paved streets and highways, I’ll attempt to explain the wrecks below.

red combine

1. Instead of The Wreck of the Hesperus  memorialized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, we’ll call this wreck The Wreck of the Old Case International Combine. The conversation between the old sailor in Mr. Longfellow’s poem and the skipper–just berfore he wrecked the Hesperus– went like this:

The skipper he stood beside the helm,
      His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
      The smoke now West, now South.
Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
      Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
“I pray thee, put into yonder port,
      For I fear a hurricane.
“Last night, the moon had a golden ring,
      And to-night no moon we see!”
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,
      And a scornful laugh laughed he.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (And if you can believe Wikipedia, his granddad’s name was Peleg Wadsworth. Why don’t we ever hear cool Bible names like that anymore?)
The conversation between Dad and the kid on the cell phone went like this:
“The kid sat high within the cab,
his earbud in one ear,
and he took the call from his old man,
and never missed a gear.
Then up and spake said old man,
who’d drove that road before,
Don’t go that way, son, he said,
for I fear the road is sloughin’ off  ’round that tin horn in the wash ’cause the county’s too cheap to pay for a longer piece of culvert.
The kid pocketed his smart phone,
a scornful laugh laughed he,
For he would show his old dad,
a real combine man he’d see…”
(And I humbly beg your forgiveness for messing up your really good poem, dearly departed Mr. Longfellow)

3 trac

2. This wreck we’ll call Some Dumb Guys With Tractors. The farm wife is taking the picture for future evidence. She is saying, “Seriously? I can understand one tractor, but three? And now the trackhoe, too? But, hee hee. This picture is going to get me that new saddle. And maybe a new riding lawn mower, too.”

Tractor and planter tear down power line

3. This wreck we’ll just call, Hired Man As Soon As They Get The Juice Shut Off To Those Wires And I Get My Hands On You, You Are Dead.

tractor runs over front end loader

4. This one we’ll call, How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You To Pick Up The Bucket Before You Let Out The Clutch?

cat tractor in a mudhole

5. This one we’ll call, Don’t Text And Drive, Goober!

back hoe bucket sticking out of ground

6. Should we call this one, Wife Buries the Hatchet With the Handle Stickin’ Out But Husband Buries the Trackhoe With the Bucket Stickin’ Out…or what? I’m at a loss here.

broken windshield combine

7. And this one…my goodness. Don’t Ever Hire Somebody to Harvest Your Corn Who Huffs Hairspray While Smoking ? 

(It appears both the back and front windows have blown out, allowing the corn in the grain tank to spill through the cab and onto the platform.)

steiger tractor backs over grain bin

8. Ah, and lastly, a Steiger tractor wreck. I’m very qualified to comment since I’ve had many adventures in an old Steiger tractor. (But not this one, I pomise.) The scene could have gone like this:

“Whoa.” Me stomping on the clutch and brake.

“Whoa, now.” Jamming on every lever in the cab with hands and feet. Starting to sweat profusely. “Oh, Lord…I said whoa, now!”

Two sets of back duals hit the grain bin and start to climb. “LORD HAVE MERCY, WHOA!”

Using both my boots, I finally shove the gear lever out of reverse. Tractor lurches forward, slamming nose into gravel. Motor dies. I slump over steering wheel, shaking. Sitting at odd angle. Sneak peek over shoulder.

This is not my fault. I told him to fix the brakes.

So What Do Y’all Think?

  • Is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow one of the best American Poets ever?
  • Do you have an explanation for number 6?
  • Should Gramps have fixed the brakes like I told him to, and why didn’t I name one of my boys Peleg?



Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy the Gardiner Sisters singing A Strange Way To Save The World.


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

Top Ranch Pen Posts Of 2014–#3

The third most viewed post of 2014 was this one co-authored by the happiest extrovert I know, our border collie dog, Nellie. Nothing dampens her vibrant enthusiasm for life. Sometimes she makes me think of the lines in Dr. Seuss’ timeless book–a favorite of my grandkids–One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish:

“Did you ever fly a kite in bed?

Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head?

Did you ever milk this kind of cow? Well we can do it. We know how.

If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good…”

~Dr. Seuss~

Anyone who suffers from the doldrums needs to come and hang out with Nellie for a bit. She is fun and fun is good.


IMG_4869Nellie’s “nelfie” 


I didn’t go ahead and succumb to my disease of last week, but while laid up, I did a lot of reading. Somewhere on the internet, someone declared that 2013 was the year of the “selfie”. Farm people have joined in the selfie craze, too. They’ve been posting what they call “felfies” of themselves doing chores around their outfits with their livestock and so forth. What an idea to my fevered brain! Gramps and I could also take felfies to entertain educate the public. Even though we here at the Ranch Pen are often a day late and a dollar short, we eventually try to get with it and keep up with the times.

Temporarily Foiled Again

Before we could implement that public service, however, I was forbidden by my sister a close relative to take selfies of…well…myself and post them on the blog. All is not lost, however. Our border collie, Nellie, has graciously agreed to let me post some of her un-copyrighted “nelfies”.

Who Said Beauty Is Only Skin Deep?

Nellie is about nine months old now, and she has grown into a beautiful dog with lovely, silken fur. In spite of her unusual beauty, she isn’t a bit puffed up about it and has maintained a modest, down-to-earth–but rambunctious fun-loving–attitude. If you are looking for shots of low cut tops, short skirts, or exposed muffin tops, you have come to the wrong dog’s blog.

Without Further Ado

The best “nelfies” of 2014, so far:



Nellie has a few problems handling the iPhone without opposable thumbs, so that’s all the “nelfies” for now, but she wanted to include one more even though it’s not technically a “nelfie”. She calls the one below–taken on a very windy day with her Pack Leader/Old Person, or PLOP–a “wet wilfie” in reference to the ol’ tongue in the ear, or “wet willie”.



Until next time, God bless all y’all and in honor of our grandson, Kevman, who Son and Daughter #3 adopted into our family almost seven years ago, I’ll leave you with Steven Curtis Chapman singing, All I Really Want For Christmas. To anyone who wants a child, or two, or ten, I urge you to consider adoption. There’s a world full of kids waiting for someone to love them.

Kevin for blog


Top Ranch Pen Posts Of 2014–#4

The fourth most viewed post of 2014 is actually one from the spring of last year entitled, More Cowboy Poetry And Growing Vegetables For Slaughter In SW Oklahoma. I’m not sure who all views the post. Cowboy poetry fans? The accidental viewer? Vegetable rights people? Regardless, I hope y’all enjoy cowboy poet, Baxter Black reciting his poem, The Vegetarian’s Nightmare, on the old Johnny Carson Show.


Shumway Seed Catalog

Lately, I’ve been thinking about planting my garden. (I like R H Shumway, by the way. Not only because they always have a good catalog cover, but their seeds are good, too.) Usually in February we can start planting taters and onions here in southwest Oklahoma.

But thoughts of vegetables made me remember a funny poem Baxter Black (one of my favorite cowboy poets) wrote years ago. Here he is doing The Vegetarian’s Nightmare on the Johnny Carson Show.

Don’t get too attached to your carrot’s feathery tops!


Until next time, God Bless all y’all and enjoy one of my favorite Christmas songs, Little Drummer Boy, sung beautifully by Pentatonix.

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ’em.


Top Ranch Pen Posts Of 2014–#5

The fifth most viewed post of the year at the Ranch Pen isn’t really a post, but the About The Author page, which surprises the goodness out of me, but thank you all. I blew off the dust, updated the info, stuffed in a new picture of Gramps and me, and…Shazam! (as my sister says). Gramps doesn’t actually write any of my books, but he is an invaluable part of the process. He proofreads, gives me technical advice, drops a new laptop on me once in a while, and inspires most of the smart-mouth witty dialogue from my male characters.

For Blog

image courtesy of It’s a Sweet Life Photography

Danni and her husband, Gramps

Danni McGriffith is the author of Agnes Campbell’s Hat–a novel for middle grade and young adult readers–as well as The Cedar Tree and Wailing Woman Creek, the first two books in the Love Is Not Enough series about two ranching families set in western Colorado. She blends a lifetime of experience with farm and ranch life, humor, and her Christian worldview into the stories she writes. Presently, she is working on the third book in the Love Is Not Enough series.

Danni home-schooled her three sons for sixteen years then finally graduated the last one and retired from that endeavor. After that, she started writing in earnest, unwilling to waste all those years of english classes. Most of what she writes is  politically incorrect but realistic Christian fiction, incorporating her lifelong love of horses, farming, ranching, and the Lord Jesus. She generally writes and blogs with her tongue firmly in her cheek because her foot is taking up the rest of the space in her mouth.

Danni and Gramps have been married 33+ years. They have three grown and married sons and seven grandkids featured on the blog from time to time–Kevman, Blondie, Roper, Eisnstein, Git’R’Done, Ladybug, and the newest member, Tater.

Danni and Gramps grow wheat and forage for cattle on about 850 acres in southwestern Oklahoma. They run a cow-calf operation with 80-100 mama cows, mostly black angus. McGriffith farms are scattered here and there across a ten-mile radius, but at the home place, Danni keeps her chickens in an old school bus–one of Gramps’ harebrained great ideas. She also keeps a rotating menagerie of cats, dogs, orphan calves, and a horse or two–at present the grandkids’ Shetland pony, Frisco, and her perfect granny-horse mare, Sis, who is too fat and lazy to buck. (Danni hopes.)

Danni thanks you for your interest, and by all means, sign up for new book notifications or use the contact form below.


Thank you so much for reading and until next time, God bless all y’all while you enjoy Casting Crowns singing I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.


*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ’em.