Hazel And Ima Hogg Visit The Ranch Pen

image via youstabemweslabem funeral emporiums serving Southwest Oklahoma for a number of years now

image via U Stab Em We Slab Em Funeral Emporium serving Southwest Oklahoma for a number of years now. Member FDIC and AARP

Well, we’re kind of in mourning here at the Ranch Pen since ol’ Danni is turning fifty-years-old. I thought I might have some pearls of wisdom to impart after fifty years of bumpy roads, so I sat down to stroke my chin whisker and think.

Waiting…

Hmm. Waiting…

How did that whisker get so long already? I just plucked it three days ago.

Waiting…

Nope. Nothing. The older I get, the less I know.

HOWEVER, I’ve got a real treat for y’all–an interview with our very close neighbors, twin sisters Hazel and Ima Hogg. These precious ladies were early pioneers of the area and where I couldn’t think of a single worthwhile gem to share about my half-century of living, the Hoggs were actually eager to speak with me about life, love, and hard times.

Hazel, a large, somewhat intimidating woman, greeted me at the door of the humble home she shares with her sister, Ima, and their dogs, Tinkle and Sprinkle.

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Hazel Hogg

Hazel told me in her brusque way to wait on the porch and went inside muttering something about Ima being late to her own funeral. The temperature was 102* on the shady porch, but I didn’t mind as I made friends with the Hoggs’ two delightful dogs.

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Tinkle

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Sprinkle

Hazel returned and offered me a glass of sweet tea in her brusque way.

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She hollered at Ima to get her lazy bones out there then told me we’d sit outside on the porch where it was cool. Ima, a tiny woman with a fade-away voice, eventually showed up, waving a paper and apologizing profusely that she had been so long trying to find the card the sweet people at the AARP had sent her earlier that day to celebrate her fiftieth birthday.

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Ima seemed to be looking forward to her free travel bag and balloons if she replied by September fourth of the year, but when I snuck a peek at Hazel, I could plainly see she didn’t feel quite the same.

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Hazel Hogg at her we-are-not-amused-by-the-twits-at-AARP best

(Hazel really is a most intimidating woman. She is from old stock and hasn’t backed up from nothin’ since she was born in the last century. I will definitely tread lightly.) I took a gulp of sweet tea even though I prefer plain and cleared my throat.

Danni: Well, as you know, I’m interviewing you ladies as wise, old pioneers of the area and I’d like to start off by asking how you found life on the farm back in the early days?

Ima Hogg: Honey, it was hard. It just was. It was hard. Heat, dust, bugs. You name it.

Ima Hogg reminiscing

Ima Hogg reminiscing about the hard early days

Hazel Hogg: (snorts)

Ima Hogg: Well, it was, Hazel! It was. You know it was. Not ever last soul’s a strappin’ girl like you. I had trouble wrastlin’ them gears in that old Steiger tractor. You know I did. I got this one big shoulder, y’know.

Danni: Er…okay. (Maybe I’d better get the twins off the subject. I catch a glimpse of a man lurking in the yard) Did y’all know there is a man lurking in your yard?

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unknown lurking man

Hazel: (looks up and actually blushes)

 

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Hazel upon seeing lurking man

Danni: Who is he?

Hazel: (titters) He’s an old coot is who he is. Been trying’ to run him off for years.

Danni: Uh…Hazel, I think he’s winking at you.

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I happened to catch a glimpse of Ima, then, with her one big ear, super-sized shoulder,  and her eyes full of heartache, longing, and pain.

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Ima: His name is Tuff Grampsi. (she said Grampsi’s name softly quivering with a catch in her voice like she…was in love with him. Well, well. What have we here…a love triangle?)

Danni: Do you want to talk about it, Ima?

Ima: (tears trickling down her face, crying so hard I can barely understand her) I don’t think I could say a word about it, honey. Not on my birthday. But it’s hard. It just is. Watchin’ him wink at Hazel like that. Seein’ her so happy. I’ve prayed and prayed he’ll wink at me, but he never has. Not once. It’s hard. It just is. Soon’s my AARP and travel bag get here in the mailbox, I’m gonna hit the road on my horse…see the world. Try to plug up this achin’ hole in my heart. Keep it from bleedin’ me to death like a stuck hog. I cain’t take it anymore. But Tuff’s such a fine figure of a man I doubt I’ll be able to forget him for a minute. He’s just there, like a knife in my poor ol’ heart. I’ve just loved him near all my life, honey. Practically worship the ground he treads in them ol’ boots of his. Oh, just look at him, now. A winkin’ and a winkin’ at Hazel. He cain’t see nobody but her. Oh, lands sakes, look at her. Smilin’ at him and gigglin’. She just leads him on that-away. Always been a big ol’ tease. Always overshadered me. It’s hard, honey. It is. It’s just hard.

Danni: (still in shock at one of the revelations) You ride a horse?

Ima: (perks up) Oh my, yes, honey. It’s hard, but when I can stay on one, I ride. Come on and let me show you my purty girl.

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Danni: (unable to see how Ima could possible keep her saddle from ending up around her horse’s ears) Well…uh…your horse is a beautiful color. And who’s little guy is this?

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Ima: (sniffs and points toward Tuff Grampsi still lurking around Hazel) Oh, that’s Tuff’s horse. He’s proud as if he had good sense of that lil ol’ midgit. Rides him over here to see Hazel might near ever day. Matter of fact, we’d best get back to the house and not leave them two alone. He’s liable to try to hold her hand.

(What does Grampsi feed his horse…rocks?)

We hurried back to the house, but Tuff Grampsi was just slithering rapidly for cover beneath a clump of Johnson grass and Hazel was cradling a BB rifle in her arms. It seemed Hazel had, in fact, run Grampsi off. I had a feeling it’d take more than a few BBs to the drawers to keep Tuff away from her, though. I had seen the unquenchable flame of love in his close-set eyes.

Danni: Well, bad as I hate to, I need to wrap up this interview so I can get it on the blog, but, Ima, is there anything you’d like my readers to know from the wisdom of your last fifty years?

Ima: Yes. It’s hard. It just is. It sure is.

Ima Hogg reminiscing

Danni: Hazel?

Hazel: You don’t have nothin’ to prove when you get my age and you for sure don’t need no AARP card. Hmmph. I’m near tempted to run over to the AARP place with my BB gun.

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******************

 

Well, I appreciate the Hogg ladies joining me for this week’s post and hope you do, too. The interview was riddled with romantic tension and not quite as informative about the early years of settlement as I had hoped, but the Hoggs are up in years and tend to wander from the subject a little. Bless their hearts.

As always, I thank y’all for reading, and thank you, Grampsi, for being a good sport. Not every man would want to get caught winking at Hazel Hogg.

*Any resemblance the Hogg twins and Tuff Grampsi bear to persons living or dead is probably coincidental.

God bless all y’all and enjoy this Isaacs’ song my cousin sang in church the other day. After fifty-years of my life I’m grateful I can say, I Still Trust You, Lord.

Celebrating The Dudes At The Ranch Pen

Son #2, Gramps, Son #3, Son #1

Son #2, Gramps, Son #3, Son #1

Father’s Day is approaching this weekend and I’ve been blessed in my life to know literally tons of good dads. Thankfully, four of the best I know are pictured above, m’dear Gramps and our three sons.

For this week’s post, I just had a few bullet points on traits I’ve noticed in good dads.

  • These dads will show up at work even if they’re half-dead to provide for their families. They accept their responsibilities. They shoulder their loads. They don’t move back in with their mom and grandma and play video games in the basement all day while someone else feeds and clothes the children they’ve sired.
  • These dads aren’t hypocrites. If they tell their kids not to lie, cheat, and steal, they don’t lie, cheat, and steal themselves. They might sometimes yell dadgummit! and throw the hammer when they hit their thumbs, but they know the synonyms for the word honorable: honest, moral, ethical, principled, righteous, right-minded, decent, respectable, estimable, virtuous, good, upstanding, upright, worthy, noble, fair, just, truthful, trustworthy, law-abiding, reliable, reputable, creditable, dependable.
  • These dads face the same temptations as other men, but they guard their honor,  keep their marriage vows, and do one of the best things they can do for their children–love their kids’ mother.
  • These dads sometimes laugh at their own jokes and break wind at the dinner table, causing wives to squawk, daughters to roll their eyes, and sons to imitate, but by golly, they are there. The kids’ eyes might be watering from Dad’s noxious fumes, but they know he’s always got their backs and if the need ever arises, he’ll unhesitatingly take a bullet for them.
  • And, finally, even though the world all around them screams differently, these dads know they are accountable to God for the way they raise their kids. They take their kids to church. Their children see a humble man bowing to Someone mightier than himself and have confidence his prayers are as good as his word.

So, to my crew and all the rest of you good dads out there, thank you. We love you. We need you. We sometimes wish you weren’t so gassy, but you’re not expendable in our families–no matter what anybody tells you.

Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy David Wesley singing, How Deep The Father’s Love For Us.

 

You Ain’t My Mother At The Ranch Pen

 

Areyoumymother

 

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been participating in the Story A Day in May at storyaday.org. One day this past week the prompt was about memoirs and we were supposed to fictionalize a personal memory. (The idea being that fiction is much better than our boring lives.) I didn’t have time for that, so I wrote down my memories at six-years-old, meeting Gramps. (He wasn’t called Gramps, then, by the way.) I won’t bore everyone with that memory right now–except that I remember Gramps as a revolting, freckled young lad of nine who made me cry.

So, anyway. The prompt, along with Mother’s Day this past weekend, sparked a memory of another Mother’s Day which I will do my best to recount in a completely objective way.

For those who don’t know, Gramps and I embarked on the sea of marital bliss 33+ years ago at very young ages–he was nineteen, I was sixteen. We had barely hove off shore in our two person canoe when we realized that in about nine months, a baby in the form of a human, (which is what any normal person would think,) would be joining our clueless happy crew.

Danni: (upon discovery) Sweet! Just what I’ve always wanted, Gramps…your offspring.

Gramps: Er…I guess I’ll get another job. (But thinking: Gah! Are you kidding me? It will have two heads with an eye between them, skin like a crocodile, and cloven hooves. What else could’ve possibly happened between me and my wife, Princess Buttercup?)

Happily, he didn’t voice those thoughts for many years, thereby prolonging his lifespan.

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Princess Buttercup, with a stringer of mountain trout

 

Time rocked along. Our first Mother’s Day on the sea of marital bliss in our two person canoe–starting to ride low in the water on my end–approached. At sixteen, girls are still all about romantic gifts from their Prince–particularly if she has gotten as big as a small cow carrying Mr. Charming’s monster baby. Naturally, these were my thoughts: Hey, I’m going to be a mother! Sweet. I’ll get a present from m’dear Charming who must certainly have stars in his eyes about me bringing forth his young ‘un, and so forth.

Charming hid the stars in his eyes pretty well, however, paddling leisurely along as though Mother’s Day wasn’t looming on his horizon like Alcatraz Prison Island. I began to worry. Even though I had known Charming since age six, I stubbornly loyally ignored the fact that hints were lost on him and started laying down a thick carpet of them in the bottom of our vessel. (In time, after we had portaged our canoe around a few dried up mud puddles of marital bliss, I realized he picked up on my direct demands with a lot less fuss. But as I mentioned, I was young and dumb still hoping for romance.)

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Charming, with his stringer of little bitty fish

The fateful Mothers Day dawned in a stormy sky. No present.

Buttercup: (peeved, but still hoping)  “Today’s Mother’s Day.”

Charming: Oh, shoot. Did you get my mom something?

Buttercup: Yes, moron, but what about me?

Charming: You?

Buttercup: I’m going to be the mother of Charming Jr.

Charming: (looking puzzled) Yeah, but you ain’t my mother…

I think I burst into tears and made him very sorry-ish, or something.

Mother’s Day passed, somehow. The storm clouds rolled away. We said our prayers together and paddled onward, my end of the canoe taking on water now and then from my tears and the sea of reality washing onboard–possibly because of my weight gain.

A few months later, our first son was born–apparently as human as the next kid and a LOT cuter. Charming Sr. obtained extra jobs to keep Jr. in food, diapers, and shelter.  Sr. also bought a bigger boat with a super-duty patching kit for the next Mother’s Day. Just in case. The injustice of Buttercup’s overreaction continued to sting from time to time because, clearly, she was his soul mate and all that, but she STILL wasn’t his mother. Nevertheless, faced with the prospect of portaging that blasted canoe around other mud puddles, ever after, Charming did whatever floated her boat on Mother’s Day.

Who says memoirs aren’t as good as fiction?

(M’dear Gramps, just so you know, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, there was that one little–No. Not a thing.)

Thanks so much for reading and until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Kathy Mattea and Tim O’Brien doing Battle Hymn of Love.

Rain Dog At The Ranch Pen

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Nellie, the rain dog

We’ve had some much prayed for rain this past week, so while I can’t get outside to work, I thought, “I know! I’ll participate in the Story a Day in May challenge at Storyaday.org along with writing a book and blog posts. Perhaps my brains will explode!” If any of y’all are interested in something like that, the idea is to write a short story every day in May, beginning with the prompt given on the website. Join in at any time.

What a blessing the Story a Day challenge has been to our Border Collie, Nellie. She had fallen into the most dreadful funk with all the rain, so I convinced her to join the challenge, too. Reluctant at first, she perked up a little as she considered the benefits. Soon, she was staying up late nights to tap out this guest post for me on her computer. I hate it when she calls me PLOP (pack leader/old person) so disrespectfully like she did in the post, but overall thought it turned out pretty good…considering her hyperactivity disorder, lack of opposable thumbs, and the fact that–even though she’s brilliant–she is a dog, after all.

Take it away, Nellie.

*****

 

Rain Dog

Worst day. Rain. Grey. No birds. No chase. Dull. Wet. Not good.

Sigh. Shake fur. Bored stiff. Not happy. Maybe lie down.

Hmph. Lie down. Dumb PLOP command. Lie down, Nellie! She says. I said lie down! All time. Don’t want lie down. Hard. Hello? Born to wiggle. Get it? Hmph.

Blink. Wet. Nowhere lie down, anyway. Sigh. Sniff around. Wet whiskers. No scents. No scents in rain. Scents, sense. Get it?

Stupid pun.

Sniff ground. No birds. No cat. No traffic. No chase–OW! OW! Flea. FleaFlea. Drop. Scratch. Scratch hard. Wet fur. Scratch fast…Augh!

Un. Be. Lievable. Flea flees.

Sigh. Sniff around more. Here. Under car. Dry. Scoot on belly.

Tight…ish…fit…aarg..! Far as can go.

Horse feathers.  Tail sticking out. Bohonkus in puddle. Sigh. Chilly. Gravel poking. Hate rain. Squirm. Bonk head. Ouch. Sigh. Try sleep.

Drifting…

Dream! Happy dream. Puppyhood. Rain. Wet Mother. Soaked Father. Tumbling brothers. Sisters. Muddy fur. Wet fur. Skunk breath. Heaven smells. Mother milk. Delicious. Joy! Goats. Goats. Chasing goats in rain! Whoa, Nellie! Rain good. Happy dreams…

 

*****

 

Well, poor old Nellie. Puns just lose something if they have to be explained, but here’s hoping the therapeutic act of pouring out her angst in written form will get her groove back. (She also wanted to include a Youtube clip by her favorite group, Three Dog Night, called Mama Told Me Not To Come, but I wouldn’t let her. While hilarious, it might get the older readers–who still remember 1970–too revved up and they might fall and break their hips.)

As always, thanks for reading and until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy David Wesley doing Fix My Eyes.

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” 

Felfies?

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:

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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”.

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*****

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

[youtube.com/watch?v=XvDBGVoGKD0]

Nobody Said Anything About No “Nelfies” At The Ranch Pen

IMG_4869Nellie’s “nelfie”

Felfies?

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:

IMG_4871

IMG_4862

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”.

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Until next time, thank you so much for reading and God bless all y’all while you enjoy this new one from David Wesley, Run To You.

[youtube.com/watch?v=ubA-NdADX5w]

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

A Mish Mash Of This’N’That From The Ranch Pen

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A freakish crossing of contrails wrote Hi in the sky, and even dotted the i

How Long Does It Take Paint To Dry, Anyway?

Every summer about this time–aside from spotting weird contrails and watching paint dry–everything starts to seem pretty blah.

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Our dog is hot.

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Blondie and Git’R’Done

Our kitties scratch the grandkids. I don’t know why.

wind turbines in SW Oklahoma

Some days the wind won’t even blow.

Farm People Need Fun, Too

So, next week…hold onto your hats, ladies and gents! Gramps and I plan to take a couple of days off and head for the bright lights of the city. We need to shop at Sam’s Club. Gramps is out of those little square cheesecake things and I need a super-sized bag of nuts. (Hmm…I’m stroking my one, middle-aged lady chin whisker thoughtfully, searching for the deeper meaning in that statement.)

Well, anyway. There’s not a doubt in my mind y’all will want to stay tuned to see what a couple of ultra-conservative Christian hicks from the sticks do for fun.

Back To Business

We had a good rain a few days ago, and we’re really thankful for that. One of the farm ponds that has been dry for ages even got some water in it.

Gramps took some heifers (young female cattle) to the livestock auction. A lot of ranchers are looking for replacement heifers to rebuild their herds since the drought of the past few years caused a massive sell-off of female cattle in the southern plains.

 livestock auction pens

View from the auction barn’s overhead walkway

Um…Excuse me just one minute while I make a note to myself. I’ll forget, sure as anything, if I don’t do it right now…

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Okay, where were we…? Oh, yes. Sale barn.

auction barn

Inside the auction barn.

That isn’t our bull and we probably won’t name him “Tiny”. The weight scales’ screen shows he weighs over a ton.

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Roper and his farm

The grandson, Roper, hung out with Gramps at the cow sale then came home where he ate Cheerios for lunch and set up his machine shed on his “farm”. (The blue ribbon is his river.) A lot of the toys are the same ones his dad–Son #1–played with as a boy.

So, moms, remember: Don’t ever, ever throw out the kids’ toys. Your house will look like a hoarder’s pit, but you might have grandkids some day!

(And as an aside: One of the best things about being a grandma? I don’t have to make the grandkids eat! I can say things like: Do you want some Cheetos with your Cheerios, honey? What could be better than that?)

Posts I liked this week

I read this post about a farm dog a few days ago that actually made me tear up and have to blow my nose. We’ve had a few good dogs like that in my lifetime and it’s terrible to lose one. I highly recommend reading this post, All Farm Dogs Go To Heaven.

Another site I like is the FarmOn website. There are lots of good farming stories and information there. You can also sign up for a free bumper sticker from the American Farmland Trust that says “No Farms, No Food”.

Happy #2, Ladybug!

And, finally, the granddaughter, Ladybug, and I celebrate a shared birth date this week. She’s definitely the best birthday gift I ever had, hands down!

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Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Buddy Green doin’ I Don’t Belong.

[youtube.com/watch?v=73-6P09xaAE]

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog, he’s just one of my favorite singers.

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