Ranch Yarns 2021

Wanted: Real or Fictional Folks ta take the stage.

Lookin’ Back an’ Goin’ Forward

“It’s a new year Pal. Tell ya what, I ain’t inta all this visionin’ stuff.”

“Any hindsight on 2020 then, Kid?”

“Ain’t gonna put on rose colored glasses. We all know what went on, an’ is goin’ on, but there’s other places fer that conversation. I’ll ‘centuate the positive lookin’ back.”

“Thet’s why Shorty built the Saloon last March. Givin’ folks a pos’tive place ta come ever week fer a break an’ mebbe a laugh.”

“Thinkin’ Shorty’s jist keepin’ us corralled.”

“Thet too.”

“It worked.”

“The corrallin’? Or the morale-in’?”

“Both! I look for’ard ta more a the Saloon.”

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

“So yer lookin’ for’ard, Kid. Thet’s visionin’.”

“Is it? How d’ya see the Saddle Up down the road Pal?”

“Jist want the Saloon ta be a frien’ly hangout where folks drop by an’ say howdy, mebbe git up on the stage an’ showcase themselves an’ their work.”

“Yeah… Pal, in ‘ddition ta the Saloon we was in dang near a hunnerd fifteen 99-word yarns last year.”

“Think fame’s changed us Kid?”

“Naw. ‘Sides we’re jist legen’s in our own minds— or someone’s mind.”

“S’pose. But thet someone’s corralled our “Ranch Yarns” here.”

“An’ we’re ridin’ for’ard at Carrot Ranch!”


Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy, Kerry E. B. Black, January 4

CRLC January 7 Challenge “stone & butterfly”

Hair A the Hog

“Pal? There anythin’ ta eat?”

“Where ya been Kid?”

“Walkin’ the hog.”

“Uh-huh. Where’d ya go?”

“Ernie’s.”

“How’s he doin’? Still not drinkin’?”

“Not drinkin’. Thinkin’. Sets there on a big rock. Jist sets. Yer there ya gotta set real quiet too. Ernie says they’re conversin’. Him an’ that stone.”

“Huh. He ain’t drinkin’?”

“Not even growin’ corn. But he’s got a garden. Thought Pepe was there. Was them plants. We got anything ta eat? Don’t know why I’m so hungry. I et plenny a Ernie’s cookies. Hey, lookit the butterfly.”

“Thet’s yer piglet.”

“That’s what the stone said!”

Saddle Up Saloon; All the Critters Is Stirrin’, ‘Specially Mause, January 11

CRLC January 14 Challenge “dressing up”

Dressed ta Swill

“Jeez. Kid, ya let thet critter snuggle in bed with ya, ya won’t git her ta stop.”
“So?”
“So? She already weighs two stone.”
“Stone? Yer a week late Pal.”
“It’s a unit a measure. Ya seen my flannel nightshirt?”
“Heehee. Curly, yer eyelashes tickle. Flutterin’ butterfly lashes.”
“Butterflies? Thet’s so last week.”
“Last week… ‘member visitin’ Ernie… then comin’ back an’ piggin’ out afore a long nap.”
“T’weren’t pretty. Hey! Thet pig’s wearin’ my nightshirt!”
“Ya soun’ angry, Pal. Is’t ‘cause Curly looks better in it then you do?”
“Give it!”
“Here ya go. Want some lipstick too?”

****

Double-hog Dare

“Kid? What’re ya doin’?”
“Dressin’ up.”
“I kin see thet. But fer what?”
“Fer Aussie.”
“Fer Aussie? Aussie favors the Michelin Man? An’ dang it, Kid, are those my pillows ya got duct-taped ta yersef?”
“Yers, mine, any I could git a hold of. Need paddin’.”
“Why’s thet Kid?”
“Wanna be prepared fer a crash landin’.”
“Crash landin’?! From what?”
“Zip-linin’.”
“But ya cain’t stand heights Kid.”
“But Aussie double-dog-dared me.”
“Hmmf.”
“Pal?”
“Yeh?”
“Take good care a Curly fer me.”
“Oh, Curly an’ me, we’re comin’ ta watch.”
“She might git scared.”
“Does, she’ll squeal like a Kid.”

Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ ‘Bout Story Chat January 18

CRLC January 21 Challenge “light at the end of the tunnel”

Led Ta This

“Pal, did’cha read this week’s post? This phrasin’ always strikes me: ‘out east’. Shorty’s got it bass ackwards. Where I come from it’s ‘out west’ an’ ‘back east’.”

“Where’d ya come from?”

“Back east.”

“‘That ‘splains yer per-petchull greenhorn status, but it don’t ‘splain yer overdone dialect whut drives spellchuck crazy.”

“Must be yer constint jabberin’ at me’s effected my speech. But ain’t ever’one out west from back east ‘rigin’ly?”

“No! Fer one, indigenous people, first folks; fer two, buckaroos. What brought ya here from out east?”

“Was where the prompt led. Followed it west ta carrot-colored campfire light.”

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Saddle Up Saloon; Quizzical Trivia January 25

CRLC February 4 Challenge “substitution”

Helpin’ Hams

“I git this past Monday was a special event post, the Sue Vincent Radio Classic; an’ I git Shorty’s in the weeds, so our writer’s heppin’. Don’t mind switchin’ things aroun’ fer that. But our writer didn’t once mention us Pal.”
“Mebbe figgered we’d all ‘preciate a break.”
“But the saloon!”
“It’s still there, Kid. But the weekly challenges gotta go on. If yer lookin’ fer somethin’ ta do, ya kin respond ta this challenge.”
“Hmmph. Substitutin’? Somethin’ standin’ in fer somethin’ else? Got nuthin’ fer that prompt.”
“Where ya headed?”
“Takin’ ma puglet fer a walk. Come Curly.”

Tootin’ Rootin’ No Disputin’

“’Ello dere Pal. Ees Keed here?”
“Pepe LeGume. Long time no smell. Kid’s walkin’ the hog. Did ya happen ta catch this week’s prompt? Kid’s already whinin’ ‘bout the switchin’ an’ substitutin ‘roun here lately.”
“Stub-shit-toot-eeng? I do not know dees word, Pal.”
“Means steppin’ in, temper-arily.”
“Oh, I have stepped in eet before. An’ de air, eet was rank.”
“No, LeGume, fillin’ in.”
“I am a feeller upper Pal. Go beeg or go home, ey?”
“No, fillin’ in fer someone cain’t be there ta do the job themsefs.”
“Pal. Some teengs cannot be stubshittooted. I keed you not.”

Wanda, Who Steps Out, Steps In

“Wanda! What’cha wande’rin’ this way fer?”
“If the prompt fits, follow it, Pal.”
“Ya sure are known fer substitushuns, Wanda, always wand’rin’ out at knights.”
“I do ‘preciate the lance a lot, but ol’ Ernie, the prince, always welcomes me home.”
“He’s one of a kind.”
“What kind a substitutions ya’ll offerin’ Pal?”
“Well, Kid’s out walkin’ the puglet, the hog whut fills in fer a dog. An’ while Kid’s out, Pepe here’s fillin’ in with sidekick banter.”
“Meant, what d’ya have ‘stead a coffee? Ernie don’t keep drink aroun’ no more.”
“Oh. Got nuthin’ like thet corn juice.”

Pepe Steps Up

“Dees ees too convenient, no?”
“What’re ya raisin’ a stink ‘bout LeGume?”
“Dees seems contrived, dees secondary characters showeeng up.”
“Secon’ dairy? Git it right LeGume, this here’s a ranch, the number one ranch.”
“Eet seems dere ees a ulterior moteev. Want to know what I teenk, Pal?”
“Already know thet ya steenk LeGume.”
“I teenk dat dees extra flashes are substituting for promotion of Keed’s upcomeeng publeecation at Story Chat. I teenk dees ees to provide da readers weeth backstory.”
“Whut?”
“It’s true, Pal. This… the quiz at the Saloon…”
“Hope Kid substituted names ta pertect the ‘denities.”

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Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy Colleen Chesebro Feb. 8

CRLC February 18 Challenge “Right Place, Right Time”

Jack Shift

“Kid? Yer lookin’ a might discombobulated.”

“Kinda am Pal. Shorty’s cloistered away at Headquarters, schedule’s been shifty, guest hosts at the saloon, an’ a outta season Rodeo? How kin I know I’m in the right place, right time?”

“Thinkin’ we all jist end up where we’re at, when we need ta be there. Doin’ whut we do.”
“Reckon… uh, what is it we do?”

“Well, Colleen’s got the Saloon ever’ third Monday, hear tell Chel’s gonna guest host ever’ first Monday, an’ the Sue Vincent Rodeo’s wrappin’ up, winners’ll be ‘nounced March 22.”

“Yep. Agin, we do…?”

“Shush Kid.”

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Saddle Up Saloon; Barroom Free For All Feb. 22

CRLC February 25 Challenge “frozen”

Write Time

“Kid, why’s thet grin froze on yer face?”
“Pal! Guess what?”
“What Kid?”
“I writ a story. It’s got mystery an’ intrigue but reads realistic like.”
“Where’s it set?”
“The Ranch.”
“Yep, real realistic, virtually. Who’s in it?”
“Unless I fergot someone, ever’one.”
“Ever’one?”
“Ever fictional character we ever met up with or made up at the Ranch. ‘Cludin’ my pet pig puglet Curly. An’ guess what else Pal. It’s gonna git published soon, at Story Chat.”
“Congrats, Kid. Ya must be real ‘cited ta have folks read an’ chat ‘bout yer writin’.”
“Gulp.”
“Shift. Kid’s froze with fear.”

***

Chop Bustin’

“Kid, yer a mess. An’ why’s thet puglet a yers wearin’ glass slippers?”
“Jist let poor Curly in next ta the fire, Pal. Temper’tures dropped considerable. Ever’thin’s frozen. Almost.”
“Whut happened?”
“Me an’ Curly was skatin’ aroun’ a bit on the pond.”
“A pig on ice?”
“Her little hooves was goin’ ever which way. Fin’lly she got ‘em all under her. Then, whomp, all four legs sank through.”
“A stuck pig?”
“I yanked an’ tugged.”
“Pulled pork?”
“Fin’lly got her out but the ice clung ta her legs. Gotta git ‘em thawed out.”
“Careful. Smells like smoked ham hocks.”

***

Holy Fishin’ Hole

“Now what ya been up to out in thet cold, Kid?”

“Decided since things is froze up I’d try fishing through the ice on the pond.”

“Catch anythin’?”

“No Pal, but I had what ya might call a mystical ‘sperience. Heard a voice from on high.”

“Been at Ernie’s cookies agin?”

“No, Pal. Ever time I’d drill a hole in the ice a boomin’ echo-y voice would speak ta me.”

“Sayin’ what?”

“Sayin’, ‘Don’t drill there. There’s no fish there.’”

“Wait. Pond? Kid, where’s this pond at?”

“Uh, that flat area below the cookhouse.”

“Kid, thet’s a skatin’ rink!”

CRLC March 4 challenge “sweet potato”

Curly Lies

“Quit yer yammerin’, Kid.”

“Dig the taters outta yer ears an’ listen, Pal. Tellin’ ya, we got anuther mystery goin’ on here at Carrot Ranch.”

“How kin a sweet p’tater patch wander off, Kid? Ya musta fergot where ya planted ‘em.”

“No. Way.”

“We’ll look agin. See any vines creepin’ ‘long the ground?”

“Nope. Mebbe I should git Curly ta hep sniff ‘em out. Curly? She seems mighty tired. I’ll let the sleepin’ hog lie.”

“Kid! Look it thet turned over soil! Yer pig et the sweet p’taters, vines an’ all!”

“No yams fer us.”

“Mebbe ham?”

“No way!”

***

“Aussie, ya brung sweet ‘tater pie! What’s the occasion?”

“You tell me Pal. I’m guessing Kid isn’t around and you don’t want to be caught talking to yourself.”

“Aw, shucks, ya guessed right. Yeah, Kid’s ridin’ herd on thet story over ta Marsha’s place.”

“Story Chat?”

“Yep. Kid’s concerned there’s more story then chat.”

“Thought Kid was nervous about the chat.”

“Yep, an’ now worried it’s fell flat. Tell ya, it ain’t a bad round up a all the fictional ranch hands. We’re all in it.”

“It’s a little risqué, that mystery.”

“Writers have ta take a risk, ey?”

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Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy Ann Edall-Robson March 8

CRLC March 11 Challenge “Deep Wishes”

Diggin’ Deep

“What’s up, Kid?”

“Wishin’ I had a story, Shorty. Comin’ up dry fer this prompt.”

“Here’s a story. D’ya know why that old mine is boarded up?”

“Reckon ta keep folks away from yer gold.”

“Ha! Kid, by now ya must know the real gold is right here fer all the ranchers an’ readers ta share. It shines in the comments an’ glitters in the roundup.”

“Yep.”

“But was a time a shallow feller’s most fervent wish was fer mineral wealth. Was him that dug that mine. Deeper an’ deeper he dug, fer what he found wasn’t never enough.”

***

“Ever wish ya had more’n 99 words, Shorty?”

“Ya wanna hear the story, you’ll shush Kid…

That feller kept burrowin’ further inta the mountainside, till one day he stumbled an’ fell inta a deep chasm. Lights out.”

“He died?!”

“No, jist his lantern. He come ta rest at rock bottom, engulfed in complete and utter dark.”

“Bet he sure wished ta git outa there.”

“Yep. Gittin’ out become his deepest wish, ta see the light a day, never mind ‘bout gold. Was then they appeared.”

“Who?!”

 “Chapfaeries. Led him through a side tunnel, come out at our carrot patch.”

***

“Kid, why’s it me tellin’ stories?”

“Jeez, Shorty. Says up there, ‘member? I got nuthin’.”

“No, I mean, where’s Pal at?”

“Dunno. Went off somewheres mutterin’ ‘bout deep wishes. But look, here comes my puglet. What’s that Curly? Pal’s fell inta the well? No? Squeal agin? Pal’s fell inta the ol’ mine shaft? We’re comin’ Curly, take us ta Pal!”

“Look! The Poet Lariat!”

Hey Pal, grab this rope

ya slipped down a real steep slope

out here huntin’ fer a deep wish

gotta haul ya up like a slimy ol’ fish.

“Wish ya’d jist pull me up already.”

CRLC March 18 Challenge “A year later”

Cuttin’ Bait

“Cuttin’ it purty close, ain’tcha, Kid? Got 99 words?”

“Couldn’t catch a story Pal. Nary a nibble.”

“Jeez, Kid! Where’n heck ya been?”

“Fishin’. Easier ta put fish in the pan than flash in the pan.”

“Shorty ain’t lookin’ fer fish, Kid.”

“I’m fried. Got nuthin’.”

“Ya best git writin’.”

 “I’m all done with that. Specially with that prompt.”

“Really?! Cain’t think a nuthin’ whut’s been aroun’ fer a year?”

“Nope. Keep comin’ up dry.”

“Kid, mebbe if ya wet yer whistle you’ll think on somethin’ good’s come outta this year jist past. Let’s head over ta the Saloon.”

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Saddle Up Saloon; Serious Fun March 23

CRLC March 25 Challenge “An escape”

Git While the Gittin’s Good

“Ya gotta git back in thet saddle and write Kid. Look’t this prompt. Ya could tell more ‘bout my ‘scape from thet mineshaft.”

“Ya didn’t ‘scape, Pal, you was rescued.”

“Well, ya could still lean on thet prompt an’ write ‘bout a deep wish ta ‘scape ta some wunnerful, magical place.”

“What fer? Don’t git no better’n where I’m at. Nope, ‘fraid this prompt ain’t promptin’ me neither.”

“Dang it.”

“What’s it ta you Pal?”

“Ya never jist go silent inta thet dry write. Yer gonna be whinin’ and complainin’ all week. Hmmpf.”

“Me, Pal? Pal? Huh. Pal ‘scaped.”

Escape With a Sense of Direction

“Jist a-sittin’ by the old still stream Ernie?”

Cut! Do you mean “old mill stream”?

“No.”

So is the stream still? Shouldn’t it be streaming? Soothing; stirring; tumbling even?

“It’s Ernie’s still stream. Where he used ta make moonshine.”

Oh. Action!

“Hey Pal.” 

“How’s things without the still?”

“Got plenny a chimes on my hands.”

Cut! The expression is ‘time on my hands’.

“That’s mebbe how I’s able ta schedule turnin’ my copper still inta wind chimes.”

Wind chimes?

“Yep.”

Action!

“Shame there’s no wind.”

“Wait fer it.”

“T’ain’t forecast.”

“Pepe’s comin’ by soon.”

“I should check on Kid.”

Redirected Scents of Escape

“Pal! Yer back! Ya jist missed Pepe.”

“Don’t never. Ya sure seem in a better mood Kid.”

“Yeah, that Pepe. He’s a breath a fresh air.”

“Wouldn’t describe him like thet. But yeah, LeGume’s a gas all right. Did he hep ya with the prompt? He knows ‘bout escapin’. He’s always lettin’ somethin’ loose.”

“Pepe said ta me, ‘Kid, sometimes ya write, an’ sometimes ya don’t.’ Told me not ta worry ‘bout it. Then he give me a wheel a cheese, said, ‘Here Kid, have some cheese ta go with yer whine.’”

“Cheese? Yum. Where?”

“There. Pepe cut it.”

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Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy Pete Fanning March 29

CRLC April 1 Challenge “Swift Passage”

Fit Ta Print

“What’cha readin’ Pal?”

“Quow-Poke Quarterly. Fella name a Finn Lee Winnin jist earned hissef a nice rodeo buckle. He’s on top.”

“Hmmph. That was a swift passage.”

“What d’ya mean Kid?”

“Well, where’d he come from? I ain’t never heard a ‘im.”

“Reckon this weren’t his first rodeo Kid. An I reckon his first rodeo weren’t his first time on a bull.”

“What else they got ta say ‘bout this Whinin fella?”

“Winnin, not Whinin, Kid. ‘Member thet. He’s quoted: ‘It’s nice havin’ extra buckles, but I still gotta thread my belt through the loops.’ Thet’s no bull, Kid.”

To the Swift

“Kid, what’s thet noise? There a critter in the chimney?”

 “It’s a fam’ly a chimney swifts Pal!”

“This far west?”

“Yep. Reckon they been keepin’ us skeeter free, least we kin do is let ‘em nest in the chimney. We kin sweep it after, a’fore we fire up the stove. Their nests are crescents stuck ta the inside a the chimney, like a hoss shoe. These birds are always in the air ‘cept fer nestin’. Cain’t even perch, jist cling ta the sides a their nestin’ site. When the young’uns are ready they climb out.”

“A swift passage?”

“Yep.”

To the Shift

“Wake up Kid, yer makin’ too much noise sleepin’.”

“Huh? Pal. What a dream. There was a swift passage a time. The Poet Tree was ancient, all gnarled an’ hollow.”

“What about me?”

“You was no more gnarled an’ hollow then usual.”

“Hmmff. Was the Poet Tree still alive?”

“Yep! An’ there were swifts nestin’ in its hollow parts!

swift passage of time

eternal circular path

still the old tree hums

ancient songs of life

hope chirps within the hollows

budding into flight”.

“Hmmf.

Kid’s buckaroo-ku

how deep is thet pud muddle?

cain’t say not knowin’.

Shift passes swiftly.”

The Shift Two

“Pal? Ranch ta Pal. Now it’s looks like you that’s dreamin’.”

“Kinda was, Kid. Was thinkin’ back ta when I was stuck in thet mine shaft.”

“An’ Curly come got Shorty an’ the Poet lariat lassoed ya an’ we pulled ya out?”

“Yeah, thet… It was darker ‘an a hero’s cave down there Kid. Cain’t say how much time passed… ‘nough I reckon…”

“Pal, sorry ta innerupt yer musin’ but the young swifts are makin’ their way out the chimney. Let’s go watch ‘em.”

climb outta thet dark

when ya kin see yer way clear

take wing inta light

CRLC April 8 Challenge “rethinking the hero”

A Hero’s Journey of Staggering Proportions

“Pepe LeGume. Seen Kid? Thet lil’ greenhorn was unusually ‘thusiastic ‘bout the prompt. Scampered off, ain’t been seen since.”

“Teenk  Pal. Keed has always wanted to be beeg hero, so prob’ly went into dee cave.”

“Whut cave?”

“Remember? Dere was a beer cave installed at da saloon. Stores and deesplays 99 cases a beer at perfect beer temperature, no more no less.”

“Let’s go, LeGume. Thinkin’ this hero’s journey ain’t gonna end well.”

 “Jeez Kid! Ya smell worse  ’an Legume!”

“Drunker ’an a skunk too.”

“Come outta there Kid.”

“Okay Pal. Jist lemme grab one more bottle a ‘lixir.”

CRLC April 15 Challenge “generosity”

Splish Splash

“Generous? Heck, Pal, I’d give ya the shirt off my back.”

“Please, don’t. I mean I know we’re fictional an’ all, mebbe even more caricatures then characters, but jeez Kid. Thinkin’ yer a might over-generous with water conservation. How ‘bout ya give ta the clean air fund by doin’ laundry an’ takin’ a bath? A’tween you an’ yer friend LeGume an’ thet pet pig, the bunkhouse is a funkhouse.”

“Yer air quality assessment stinks Pal.”

“Z’actly.”                                            

“Fine, Mr. CleanJeans.  Ya happy?”

“Ya still got thet shirt on yer back.”

“Launderin’ an’ bathin’ simultaneously Pal. Water don’t grow on trees.”