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!”

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?”


“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!”

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? 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?”
“But ya cain’t stand heights Kid.”
“But Aussie double-dog-dared me.”
“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.”

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.”

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.”
“It’s true, Pal. This… the quiz at the Saloon…”
“Hope Kid substituted names ta pertect the ‘denities.”

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.”

Wrestlin’ Wangler

“I know Kid, this’s a tough one.”
“Sure is Pal. How’ll I know right time, right place?”
“Thinkin’ we all jist end up where we are, where we’re needed, when we need ta be there.”
“Reckon. I always seem ta be where I’m at. Figgered I’s jist lucky.”
“Ya are some lucky Kid. Thing is, ever’one’s lucky. Thing is, not ever’one ‘cepts their luck, don’t recognize their learnin’ op’r’tunities.”
“Easy ta say, what with a bunkhouse roof over us an’ a cookhouse full a carrots an’ bac— baked goods.”
“Yep. So don’t jist be lucky. Share fortune. Spread luck.”

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 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’.”
“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?”

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.”


“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.”


 “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.”

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”?


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?



“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.”

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?”


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”.


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.”


“Fine, Mr. CleanJeans.  Ya happy?”

“Ya still got thet shirt on yer back.”

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

CRLC April 22 Challenge “earthing”

Gittin’ Down ta Earth

“Kid, whut’re ya doin’?!”
“Boss’ orders, Pal. Anyways, last week you was all about me takin’ a bath.”
“Thet ain’t a bath! Yer wallowin’ in the mud! With yer puglet!”
“A mud bath. I learn from the best. Curly’s a natural at it. Earthin’. Try it, Pal, it’s good fer ya. Might even make ya less ornery.”
“I’ll show ya ornery ya grimy greenhorn! Oh! No! Whoaaaa!”
“An’ here ya are, Pal. Don’t that mud feel good?”
“No! I cain’t stand it. Cain’t stand up neither.”
“Grab holda Curly’s tail. She’ll pull ya through.”
“Shorty’ll pull through too.”


“Pal! Did ya see that? Whut’s Shorty up to?”
“What’sa matter, Kid? Ya know Shorty likes ta git out in the garden, play in the dirt.”
“Play in the dirt, sure. But look’t ‘er! She’s layin’ in it! Mebbe we best check on ‘er, make sure she’s all right.”
“Oh, Shorty’s all right, all right. She’s earthin’, Kid. Reckon thet’s how she stays grounded.”
“Pal, how come yer okay with Shorty’s earthin’ but ya got all mad at me an’ Curly when we was earthin’.
“What you was doin’ was wallowin’, Kid. An’ asides, thet weren’t mud.
“Aw, shift!”

CRLC April 29 Challenge “hit the road jack”

Six-Pac Tall Tale #1

“S’matter Kid? Yer lookin’ lost.”
“Dunno, Pal, got a crossroads kinda feelin’, don’t know which way ta head.”
“Thet’s cuz there ain’t no sech thing as the end a the road, Kid. But sometimes ya gotta look fer signs, git a sense a direction. So slow down, take time fer a story.”
“Alright, Pal. Do tell.”
Was a strong woman, name a Jacquelyn, folks jist called her Jac.”
“An’ she hit the road!”
“Shush Kid. Asides, though Jac was stronger ‘an any a the lumberjacks in camp, she chose non-violence. Gen’le as a butterfly, she never hit nuthin’.”


Six-Pac Tall Tale #2

“Ok, Pal, so Jac lived in a lumber camp?”
Jac was the camp cook, but thet’s only cuz she liked ta cook an’ liked ta keep busy. See, she’d already felled trees, milled the logs an’ crafted fine furniture by the time the other jacks had even begun ta lumber off inta the woods.”
“What kinda furniture’d she make?”
“She always ended up makin’ writin’ desks.”
“Was she a writer?”
“Jist let me tell the tale, Kid.”
“Is this a tall tale, Pal?”
“Well, it’s certainly gonna be longer ‘an most, ‘specially with yer inneruptions an’ questions. Jeez.”


Six-Pac Tall Tale #3

“Jac made beautiful writin’ desks an’ hankered ta set hersef down ta one. The woods was full a poetry an’ the camp was full a characters, but more an’ more she felt them jacks was too much lookin’ over her shoulder. More an’ more she was feelin’ like her stories was down anuther path. So one day she loaded the writin’ desks onta her truck an’—”
“Hit the road!”
“Set off.”
“Bet she sells the desks ta make her fortune. Or trades ‘em fer magic beans.”
“She give ‘em all away, ta other folks with stories ta write.”


Six-Pac Tall Tale #4

“Jac set off beyond skidder trails an’ loggin’ roads, headed down the biggest widest road she ever seen.”
“Jac hit the road!”
“No, Kid, told ya, she wouldn’t do thet. But oh, how Jac marveled at thet road…
Thet road was like a trail a ink, ableedin’ from her past an’ aleadin’ ta her future. She didn’t hit the road, but she did pick it up an twirl it like a lasso. She caught stars an’ stories with thet lasso. Thet road had loops an’ swoops thet made it hard ta see ‘roun the bend, but she kept on.”


Six-Pac Tall Tale #5

“That sounds skeery Pal, not bein’ able ta see ‘roun the bend.”
“Kid, would ya really wanna be seein’ straight ahead all the time?
Jac kep’ on. At ev’ry turn she met good folks. Late nights, unner the stars, she’d set at one a the desks she’d made. Her adventures an’ ‘magination come t’gether inta constellations on the page. She was stronger ‘an ever. Each story she wrote gave her power an’ strength, more ‘an she ever thought possible.”
“What was Jac’s greatest strength, Pal?”
“Reckon thet no matter what, Jac kep’ on keepin’ on.”
“Down that road.”


Six-Pac Tall Tale #6

“Pal, ya said roads ain’t got no end. Does this story have an end?”
Jac coulda stayed on in the camp where she started, or even circled back ta it. On the road she saw plenny a folks in houses, some fine an’ some not so fine, places where them folks’d decided ta stay put. She saw plenny a folks with no house an’ plenny who would never stay put, no matter.
Jac knew thet road could lead back’ard or for’ard; could be knotted, looped, or pulled straight; but she kep’ it as a lasso fer her star.”


CRLC May 6 Challenge “party hens”

Past Prompts Present

“Wholly shift, Kid, it’s wild out there! Ain’t never seen the like.”
“Is it stormin’ Pal?”
“It’s a rumpus! Mause an’ Curly’s barkin’ an’ squealin’ an’ rootin’ through the carrot patch. Ever’ unicorn from ever’ dang unicorn flash is here stompin’ an’ gallopin’ about.”
“I hear that herd.”
“Yep, an’ the longhorns is wearin’ strings a flowers, the ranchers is whoopin’ an’ yodelin’ aroun’ the fire like women warriors, an’ rabbits is dancin’ on the barn roofs. An’ the chickens’ve flown the coop.”
“Where’s Shorty at?”
“Followin’ the hens. With cake.”
“Kin we eat it too?”
“Party time!”


“Kid, what’re ya doin’ with them binoculars?”
“Bird watchin’, Pal.”
“Bird watchin’?”
“Keepin’ an eye on them hens. They’re still partyin’.”
“Where’s thet rooster?”
“Jack? The hens done told him ta hit the road… an’ look, there she is, still partyin’ with ‘em.”
“She who?”
“Shorty. Jeez. That caged bird sure was slingin’ words but now she ain’t cooped up no more she’s flexin’ her wings an’ slingin’ cake like it were cracked corn.”
“Thinkin’ thet’s rice cake, Kid.”
“Scatterin’ rice? Shorty gittin’ married?”
“Heck, no! But she is commencin’ a new life.”
“Skeery. An’ somethin’ ta celebrate.”


CRLC May 20 Challenge “naked gardening”

Hangin’ Out

“Aaahhhggg! Ain’t never wanted ta see this side a ya Kid.”
“Hey Pal.”
“Not thet side neither! Kid, why’re ya gardenin’ in yer birthday suit?”
“Almanac says plant by a full moon. Mmm, feel that loam ‘twixt yer bare toes.”
“I’ll jist take ma boots off.”
“Sunbeams sure feel good on yer belly.”
“Mebbe ma shirt.”
“Ahh, breeze in my hair.”
“Yer hair? Yer wearin’ yer hat. Oh. I see. Jeez Kid. Feels good though?”
“Mebbe this is whut them writers mean ‘bout pantsin’. Ok, they’re off. Mmmm. I feel powerfully vulnerable.”
“Own it, Pal. Cultivate yer power.”


CRLC May 27 Challenge “flying insects”

Biting Yarns #1

“The Lemmon Brothers! Hey there Tim, Tom. Tim, yer wearin’ pants?”
“I’m Tom Pal.”
“Oops, sorry. Tom, where’s yer dress?”
“Wearin’ pants ta thwart them dang black flies was comin’ up unner my dress.”
“Oh. Tim why’re ya wearin’ a dress then?”
“Waited too long. Got so many welts unner this here dress cain’t git ma pants on. Where’s Kid at Pal?”
“Kid’s off wallowin’ with Curly the pig, tryin’ ta git away from these black flies. Kid’s bit up all over, an’ I mean all over, after last week’s nekked gard’nin’. An’ now this.”
“Yep, this prompt bites.”

Biting Yarns #2

“I figgered we could use our powers a fiction ta keep mis’rable critters sech as black flies an’ skeeters away from the Ranch. Now Shorty wants us ta use ‘em ta power our fiction. Hmmf.”
“Speakin’ a miserable critters, ain’t that—”
“Slim Chance! What’re ya doin’ here?”
“Heard y’all’s bein’ bugged at Carrot Ranch.”
“Only thing buggin’ me is you, Slim. You must have black flies too, I kin see the dark cloud over yer spread from here.”
“Got ‘em Pal, an’ I got a concoction ta keep ‘em off ya. I’m willin’ ta share. Fer a price.”

Biting Yarns #3

“Why should I buy yer concoction, Slim Chance?”
“What a question! Black flies is eatin’ ya alive! Makin’ yer skin raw and itchy, all lumps an’ bumps an’ scabs an’ sores. This stuff keeps ‘em off ya.”
“I don’t gen’rally cotton ta concoctions. Anyways, ya sure it works? Yer lookin’ mighty puffy likes as if ya got all bug bit Slim.”
“It works real good. Jist kinda makes yer skin itchy an’ sore is all. Mebbe break out inta lumps an’ bumps an’ sores. Small price ta pay ta keep the bugs off a ya Pal.”
“Bug off, Slim.”

Biting Yarns #4

“Ah jeez. Was hopin’ this yarn, like black fly season, would end soon. But here comes Kid an’ Curly right on the heels a Pepe LeGume.
Kid, I sure hope thet’s mud yer wearin’ like a snuggy. An’ why are ya followin’ Legume aroun’ like thet?”
“Hey Pal. Yep, been earthin’ in the mud, makes ma bug bites feel better. Then Pepe happened by an’ I noticed he’s the only one aroun’ here ain’t bothered by them flyin’ insects been set upon us. So I been clingin’ ta Pepe like stink on sh—”
“Shush Kid. An’ move over.”


CRLC June 3 Challenge “leashed”

When Pigs Slide

“Tellin’ ya Pal, I’m glad ta’ve got a hog ‘stead of a dog. Curly’s been easy ta train. Look’t her perched up here on my hoss with me. Got her on her leash jist in case, leash’s tied ‘roun my waist.”
“Thing ‘bout Carrot Ranch, Kid, there ain’t never been no lashes nor leashes. Jist free range cre-a-tiv-i-ty. Yep, unleashed characters an’ unfettered writers. Only constraint’s the word count, 99, no more no less.”
“Dang, Kid, ya shoulda give Curly a longer leash. Pig’s danglin’ like a ham an’ yer lookin’ like the num’ral eight.”
“Unleash the hog!”


CRLC June 19 Challenge “office”

Remotely Workin’

“Hey there Shorty.”
“Hey Pal. Where’s Kid?”
“They’s a bunch a office work ta git done at the Saloon.”
“So Kid’s at the Saloon?”
“No way!”
“Then where is Kid?”
“Past the back forty, in the high meadow. Sent Kid off ta work remotely, ‘cause lately what Kid’s been up to don’t even remotely look like work.”
“But Kid cain’t do office work way off up there. How’s that gonna help?”
“Listen Shorty.”
“I’m listenin’ Pal.”
“No, listen. Ya hear thet?”
“I don’t hear anythin’.”
“Zactly. No yammerin’, no whinin’…”
“Where ya goin’?”
“Saloon office. Now I kin work.”


“Hey there Shorty.”
“Good day at the office. Sure kin git lot’s done without Kid pesterin’ me an gittin’ in the way. Thet paperwork’s all organized an’ stacked there on the desk.
“Pal! Here ya are!”
“Kid, whut’re ya doin’ back so soon?”
“’Member them kid goats I sent off in Logan an’ Morgan’s rental car? Well they musta let ‘em go. I jist rounded ‘em up an’ brought ‘em back.”
“Kid, d’ya ‘member why ya them goats was on the run?”
“Fergot ‘zactly.”
“They was ettin’ manuscripts an’ submissions.”
“Oh. Yeah. Uh, Pal, was that pile a papers there a manuscript?”


CRLC June 18 Challenge “solstice”

In Good Company

“Wholly shift, Kid! Reckon Shorty’s been puttin’ in some long days.”
“The longest. It’s summer solstice.”
“Shorty’s stretchin’ hersef an’ growin’ the CRLC.”
“Carrot Ranch Literary Community. An’ now she’s got hersef a LLC.”
“What the /L/ Pal? CRLLC? That extra /L/ stands fer… lite; no Shorty’d never have lit lite. Lift! Carrot Ranch Literary Liftin’ Community.”
“A LLC is separate from this here literary community, Kid. Has ta do with business.”
“Leveragin’ Loads a Cash?”
“Limited Liability Company. But thet’s none a yer business.”
“Oh. Well this company’s liable ta write with limits.”
“Yep. Jist 99 words.


As the World Turns

“Kid, why’re ya changin’ up the Saloon signs? We cain’t be open 25 hours a day!”
“It’s comin’ up on the summer solstice Pal. The days is gittin’ longer. Pal, if someone has a attitude ‘bout the longest day, d’ya call that a long-itude?”
“Ever day has jist 24 hours Kid. But summer days has more sunlight on account a the tilt a the earth’s axis. Here in the northern hemisphere we’re leanin’ tawards the light.”
“Reckon that’s a right attitude, Pal. Or d’ya call that lat-itude?”
“Ya know what makes fer a long day Kid? Bein’ with you!”


CRLC June 25 Challenge “rainbow cat”

When Pigs Fly

“Been mighty quiet, Kid. Cat got yer tongue?” 

“So ta speak. Got nuthin’ fer this prompt. Asides, last time ya made me return the rainbow cat ta the library. I ain’t doin’ this un. It’s the end a the rainbow far as I’m concerned.” 

“Well I’m concerned; yer up ta somethin’. Where ya takin’ thet pig?” 

“Gonna teach Curly ta point an’ flush pheasant, keep ‘em outta the corn. Look’t her go! Must be onta one. She’s practic’ly flyin’ ta the cornfield!” 

“There ain’t no bird, Kid.” 

“Shift! She’s eatin’ up the corn.” 

“Curly’s found her pot a gold.”


CRLC July 1 Challenge “old photograph”

Ev’ry Story Tells a Picture

“Pal, how kin ya be Carrot Ranch’s historian? Ya ain’t even got any old photos.”
“It’s livin’ history. Things is jist how they is at ever moment.”
“Folks wanna see how things was.”
“Folks kin read the archives.”
“A picture’s worth a thousand words.”
“Thet’d be 901 words too many.”
“Yer prob’ly ‘barasssed ta show yer mug.”
“We’re fictional characters Kid. Folks see us as they see us.”
“Fiction, ey?
Hey look here’s a old photo a you! An’ there in the background… Bigfoot!”
“Kid, ya cain’t be makin’ stuff up.”
“Sure I kin, 99 words at a time.”


CRLC July 8 Challenge “feathers”

Keepin’ Up

“Not agin!”

“Sure hope you ain’t startin’ inta whinin’ ‘bout the prompt Kid.”

“Hope is the thing with feathers Pal. She wants us ta round up unicorns agin.”

“Horse feathers Kid! Thet ain’t what she’s after.”

“Well what does she want then? I cain’t keep up, she moves too fast. Shorty’s all over the place.”

“Seems pretty grounded ta me, ‘cept fer all her flights a fancy. Look Kid, jist go at yer own pace. You’ll dream up an idea.” “Reckon.”

“What’re ya doin’?”

“Gonna take a nap with ma head on this here feather pillow. Perchance ta dream.”


CRLC July 15 Challenge “meltdown”


“Yer lookin’ hot unner the collar Kid. Fit ta be tied.”

“Got nuthin’ fer this prompt Pal. Meltdown? Yeesh. I don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout meltdowns.”

“Hmmm. Tell ya Kid, it reminds me a way back rodeoin’. Drew a bull named Meltdown. Whoooeee, ya think this is a tough write? Thet was one rough ride. Ol’ Meltdown threw me inta the air an’ if not fer some serious rodeo clowns woulda stomped me inta the ground. Was sure weak-kneed after thet one.”

“That’s a short story pal, kinda incomplete.” 

“So was thet ride. But I got up.”

“Write on, Pal.”


CRLC July 22 Challenge “hometown”


CRLC August 5 Challenge “open door”

Go Hog Wild

“Kid! Shut the front door!”
“Leavin’ it open fer Curly. My little hog’s wandered off, hopin’ she wanders back.”
“Reckon she will aroun’ dinner time. What’d ya think a Shorty’s prompt?”
“It’s liminal! Unlimited possibilities. Course, Slim Chance says opportunity only knocks at yer door jist once.”
“Hmmf. Ernie says a jar’s a open doorway. I’d ruther set aroun’ with Ernie an’ his jars a story grease then thet shyster Slim Chance. He’s always lookin’ fer a opportunity ta pad his wallet. Nope, real opportunities abound, Kid, ya jist gotta grab hold of ‘em.”
“Reckon so, Pal, reckon so.”
“Pal, let’s go ta the Saddle Up Saloon, see if Curly’s gone there.”
“Sure Kid. Anyway’s it’s about time we checked on the place.
Wunner if folks know all the possibilities fer ‘em through them saloon doors.”
“Them door’s always open ta folks wantin’ ta take the stage, mebbe let their characters out fer a romp, or share a story or happenin’.”
“Yep. Folks could chat with us or showcase their art, promote a book— jist about anythin’.
Well, here we are. Oh no! Yer puglet’s opened some doors fer hersef. The kitchen’s a mess!”
“Who cares? Curly’s safe!”


CRLC August 12 Challenge “cacophony

Surround Sound by C. Mills

Shorty approached the Poet Tree. Ribbons and leaves bobbed in the breeze. Silence. Kid was off chasing Curly in a unicorn-y snafu. Somehow the piglet got stuck in a child’s floatie after Kid and Pal helped Marge dismount from her big bass adventure. Whatever cacophony hung over the lake between campfires in these parts, Shorty couldn’t hear. Ol’ Captain pulled at the bit. Shorty let the gelding have his head to munch the grass and swung a leg to rest across the saddle swells. Characters laughed, moaned, cajoled, and rose up in the distant ranch ether. All was well.


CRLC August 19 Challenge “stars in the sand

99 Carrot Stars 

“Kid what’re ya doin’ lettin’ thet dang hog a yers root an’ dig ever’where?”

“If it’s okay fer Mause, it’s okay fer Curly. We’re lookin’ fer stars in the sand, Pal.”

“Thet ain’t sand, Kid, thet’s Shorty’s garden.”

“Close enough. Hey, another one! Good Curly.”

“Thet ain’t a star, Kid, thet’s jist a carrot.”

“Jist a carrot?! Carrots fer the people, Pal. Tell ya somethin’ else. The people that show up ta the ranch is all stars. Their stories shine! An’ while we ain’t got beach sand here, there’s plenty a folks with grit.”

“Reckon so, Kid, reckon so.”


CRLC August 26 Challenge “flight of pigs”

Pig Aloft

“Kid? Kid, where ya at?”

“Psst! Pal. I’m up here in the hay loft.”

“Ya sure flew the coop at this prompt. What’re ya doin’ up there?”

“This’s a cruel an’ unusual prompt. Figgered I’d put Curly in hidin’.”

“How in heck’d ya git yer dang pig up there?”

“The hay elevator. ‘Cept I had it runnin’ too fast. Poor Curly went flyin’ across the mow. Now she won’t come near it.”

“Hmmf. How now d’ya pr’pose ta git thet pig down outta thet hay loft? She’s too big ta carry anymore.”

“I’ll figger somethin’ out.”

“When pigs fly.”


“Kid, kin ya mebbe lower her down? There’s a block an’ tackle over the hayloft doors.”

“Poor Curly’s so upset from her elevator ride I cain’t git near her.”

“Now whut’s all thet squealin’? Did ya catch her?”

“No, but she’s all caught up in somethin’. Some sorta sign. Her hooves’ve gone through, she’s wearin’ this thing like a… a wing! Look out below! She’s skidded inta the wild blue! Curly’s flyin’!”

*When pigs fly
Aloft on good grace
Prayer wings*

“Landed at the Poet Tree. Hep her outta that wing.”

“Thet wing was Shorty’s rodeo banner.”



CRLC September 2 Challenge “not everyone fits a prom dress”

A Stitch In Time

“Kid! Thet ol’ Singer’s singin’! Didn’t figger ya fer a sewer.”

“Cuz ya make assumptions Pal, which limit yersef as well as me.”

“Hmmf. What’re ya makin’? Thet looks like a pile a old prom dresses thet yer takin apart at the seams.”

“Yep. Then I’m sewin’ ‘em all t’gether inta a parachute. Curly wants ta keep at flyin’.”

“S’pose thet pig told ya thet hersef.”

“Don’t assume she didn’t. If pigs can fly,…”

“Kid, thet was last week’s prompt. This’s pretty lame.”

“Tough prompt. What else I got?”

“Yer fergettin’ the Lemmon twins.”

“Shift! Mebbe I’ll be back.”


Bespoke An’ Be Speakin’

“Here they are! Tip an’ Top Lemmon!”

“Hey Kid. Heard ya was strugglin’ with the prompt.”

“It ain’t a good fit, fellas. Um… Yer wearin’ cowboyin’ duds.”

“We been cowboyin’, Kid. Was ya hopin’ we’d be wearin’ prom dresses?”


“Anyway, growth is good, but it sure makes it hard ta squeeze inta them old dresses.”

“Why d’ya do it? Hasn’t puttin’ on women’s clothin’ made it hard fer ya ta fit in?”

“Women’s clothin’? Clothes is clothes.”

“We’re comf’terble enough in our own skins ta cover our skins with whatever’s comf’terble.”

“So if it feels good—”

“Wear it!”


CRLC September 9 Challenge “cooking show”

Pot Luck

“Whatcha cookin’, Kid?”

“Makin’ beans fer Ernie an’ Wanda’s potluck gatherin’ Pal. Problem is, I got wind that Pepe’s also makin’ beans. An’ so’s Shorty. I cain’t no way compete with Shorty’s beans.”

“Is it a competition?”

“No. Jist a frien’ly gatherin’. But my beans is dif’rent. Folks’ll compare ‘em ta the other beans.”

“An’ they’ll notice thet each bean dish’s dif’rent, each good in its own way, reflectin’ the maker’s hist’ry even. Folks’ll be glad ta sample ‘em all. Kinda like the buffet a flash fiction responses thet Shorty puts out ever week.”

“So it’s all good?”



“So whut’s some a the others bringin’ ta the table, Kid?”

“Wanda’s makin’ her fire-in—the-hole chili. Ernie is a course makin’ his special cookies. Frankie says she cain’t deliver on cookin’ but will bring olives.”

“She did thet last time. Ate one a Ernie’s cookies an’ spent the rest a the night in a starin’ contest with one a her olives.”

“Ha! Yep.
Heard Logatha’s bakin’ up loaves a brown bread. What about you Pal?”

“Think I’ll roast corn over the fire.”

“There’s always a good fire ta set aroun’.”

“Thet’s where we share our stories.”


CRLC September 16 Challenge “big black horse”

Horse Tales

“A black horse Pal? Seems anonymous.”

“Think ya mean ominous.”

“Did ya catch its name?”

“It didn’t say.”

“An anonymous black horse. Could be a portent.”

“Ev’ry prompt’s important.”

“Well, I’ve called on Logatha LeGume fer this one. She knows horse magic.”

“Logatha knows horse magic?”

“Oui, Pal. Some people read tea leaves, I read horse muffins. Keed, dees ees fresh from da black horse?”

“Yep. How’s it lookin’ Logatha?”

“I see horse tales in da future.”

“Ya kin see that from what’s passed?”

“Really Kid? This is horse puckey!”

“I sense you weel step in eet.”

“Aw, shift!”


CRLC September 23 Challenge “author’s chair”

Author, Author!

“Pal, who’s Arthur?”
“Why d’ya ask Kid?”
“Shorty’s wantin’ folks ta write ‘bout Arthur’s chair.”
“Thet’s ‘author’ Kid, as in writer.”
“Oh. They’s writers all over the ranch.”
“Thet’s right Kid, an’ they’s invited ta take a seat in the author’s chair— share a piece a their work.”
“Soun’s like a hot seat.”
“No, Kid, it’s a friendly exchange. A chance ta share an’ engage with one another as readers an’ writers.”
“Like we do ‘roun the Carrot Ranch campfire ever’ week?”
“”Cept jist one author’ll be featured at a time.”
“Cool! Cain’t wait ta see who signs up.”


“So Pal, anyone readin’ this is eligible ta be in the Author’s Chair?”
“Yep. Kin read anythin’ they’ve writ; mebbe somethin’ we’ve seen b’fore or somethin’ we ain’t. Mebbe somethin’ thet’s been reworked somehow. But it ain’t got ta be Ranch related. Kin be from a WIP, a forthcomin’ book, an older book, or no book.”
“Someone jist sharin’ somethin’ they wouldn’t mind talkin’ more about.”
“’Zactly Kid. But the talk’ll mostly come from other folks’ questions an’ comments.”
“Seems ta me folks that write injoy talkin’ ‘bout writin’.”
“Yep. Thinkin’ the Author’s Chair’s gonna be a good ride.”


CRLC September 30 Challenge “across the water”

Jist Skatin’ By

“Kid! Where ya been? Was worried ya weren’t gonna make it this week.”
“Havin’ the same worry, Pal. Findin’ this anuther tough prompt.”
“Hmm. Figgered ya’d sail with this un, Kid. Or kayak, or swim, or even ride yer hoss across.”
“Yep, they’s plenny a situations could arise. Coulda had the creek rise, mebbe involve Ernie or Curly. But none a that feels right. Have been down ta the creek though, where it pools unner the trees.”
“An’? Catch a story?”
“Nuthin’. Jist set there watchin’ water bugs a-sparklin’ in the sun, skatin’ an’ scurryin’ across the water.”
“Shift, Pal! The creek is risin’!”
“Thet’s okay Kid, they’s plenny a room fer thet. We’ll be alright. The Ranch is a safe place after all.”
“Curly’s stuck on the far side.”
“Gary Larson’s Far Side? Seems fittin’ fer Curly.”
“No, Pal, she cain’t git back across the water. Come help!”
“Cain’t cross or won’t? Look’t Kid. She’s over there takin’ up with a fam’ly a beavers.”
“Dam! That’s why the creek’s a-risin’.”
“Yep. Yer hoglet’s heppin’ them beavers make a pond. Thet’s good fer all.”
“But… d’ya think she’ll come back? Or has she b’come a lodge member?”


CRLC October 7 Challenge “Whispers”

Pig In a Pond

“Why ya whisperin’ Kid?”
“Whisperin’ ‘cause I’m a pony.”
“You know, a little hoarse.”
“Jeez. Why’re ya hoarse, Kid?”
“Been hollerin’ fer my hoglet. Tryin’ ta git Curly ta come home.”
“She’s still hangin’ out with them beavers?”
“Yep. Swims in their pond, heps with their dam, even dives down an’ gits inta their lodge with ‘em.”
“Tell ya what hurts me most, Pal. I walked down there an’ she slapped the water with her tail ta warn the beavers I was there.”
“Thet little curly tail couldn’t a made much sound.”
“Jist a whisper. Still hurts.”


Whisperin’ Waters A Change

“Kid, mebbe hollerin’ ain’t the way ta git yer hoglet ta come ta ya.”
“S’pose Pal.”
“Look, Kid. Ya were always wantin’ this hog ta be yer fur-baby, even though she ain’t got fur; made her a pet but not much of a pig. Well mebbe she ‘dentifies more as a beaver.”
“Mebbe. Beavers is real smart, like her. But Pal… I cain’t say goodbye.”
“She’s right there in the pond.”
“But that tail slappin’…”
“Yer gonna have ta regain her trust Kid. Meet her where she’s at.”
“In the pond?”
“Respect her beaver-being.”
“I’ll be a beaver whisperer.”


CRLC October 14 Challenge ” mud”

A Dirty Story

“Well, Pal, I cert’nly didn’t see this post comin’.”
“Reckon thet’s ‘cause ya got mud in yer eye, Kid. Looks like ya mighta already embraced the muck.”
“Yeah, was fetchin’ sticks fer Curly an’ her beaver friends. But I don’t wanna talk ‘bout that no more. NaNoWriMo? Is Shorty serious?”
“Gonna do it Kid?”
“Heck no.”
“Yer jist a stick in the mud.”
“Dammed if I am, Pal. I got chores ta tend to. Asides, I ain’t got any novel ideas.”
“That ain’t nuthin’ new. Since ya got yer whine out Kid, a toast— here’s mud in yer eye!”



“Well, Kid, mebbe this mud yer callin’ coffee will motivate yer writin’.”
“I ain’t so worried ‘bout slingin’ mud, Pal. Reckon I kin come up with 99 words in two weeks.”
“Still worryin’ ‘bout NaNoWriMo, Kid?”
“That’s more’n 99-words times 505!”
“So? Thet’s less’n seventeen 99-word flashes a day. Ain’t gotta be perfect neither.”
“All strung t’gether inta one big story! I ain’t gotta prayer.”
“Could be yer premier novel Kid.”
“Thinkin’ thet’s premature thinkin’ Pal.”
“Don’t prescind from this opportun’ty. You kin do this.”
“Much ’preciated Pal, but I cain’t promise prose if I ain’t got a premise.”


CRLC October 28 Challenge “candy kitchen”

And Eat It Too

“Kid?! What’s with all this candy? Kitchen’s a mess.”
“I’m a mess, Pal. Workin’ things out through culinary art.”
“Well Shorty says cake’s always a good beginning to a fine ending. But what else is goin’ on with this cake?”
“This pile of chocolate covered pretzel sticks is a beaver lodge. An’ here’s a pretzel dam mudded over with chocolate. This here, with the V out behind it in the blue icing, that’s a beaver, see the black licorice tail?”
“I see it Kid. And this one with the skinny little tail?”
“Made outta pink licorice— that’s my Curly.”


And Eat It Too Two

“Kid, shouldn’t ya be tendin’ ta yer literary art? Mebbe writin’ yersef a encouragin’ letter?”
“I don’t think so Pal.”
“Come on Kid. Time ta run with the wolves. Or at least the Writers”
“Cain’t focus on anythin’ Pal, not with my puglet out swimmin’ with the beavers.”
“As Dylan sang, If pigs swim free, why not me?, or somethin’ like thet. Curly’s embraced her inner beaver, bravin’ new waters. It’s inspirin’.”
“Cain’t git over my puglet flyin’ the coop.”
“‘Ain’t no excuse ta chicken outta writin’, Kid. Heck, pigs’ve flown b’fore at Carrot Ranch! Anythin’s possible.”
“Reckon so.”


CRLC November 4 Challenge ” film fest”

True Grit Shift 

“Pal, this fella’s here ta make a film.”
“Yes, I want to capture the true-grit work of ranching.”
“Thet so?”
“Says he wants ta see real cattle. Ya know, fer the moo-vie.”
“Well, there’s some longhorns from an earlier prompt. An’ unicorns a course. See Mister we don’t zactly wrangle cattle here.”
“What kind of a ranch is this?”
“This here’s a virtual ranch. We wrangle words. But if’n ya got a flash cam’ra, mebbe ya kin catch thet on film.”
“Don’t you have roundups?”
“Sure. Ever week. Shorty roun’s up ever’one’s stories.”
“This is unreal!”
“Thet’s ‘bout right.”


At Eleven

“Phew. LeGume here?”
“Was, Pal, but now he’s gone with his wind. Went ta check on Ernie, who’s been in a bit of a space odyssey from his gardenin’ an’ bakin’. Where’s that film fella at?”
“He was wundrin’ an’ wand’rin’, lookin’ fer inspiration when Frankie stumbled inta him. I said somethin’ ‘bout her havin’ a good eye, an’ he asked her ta take him ‘roun the ranch ta see the sights.”
“What a sight. Hope she ain’t leadin’ him in circles.”
“She’s got Burt.”
“What hoss’s the film fella on?”
“It’ll be a must-see film.”


Leaving’ A Trail

“Ain’t seen ya at any a the film showin’s Kid. Have ya least checked out the trailers?”
“Trailers? Them film folks is campin’ out?”
“Not camper trailers. Movie trailers. Kinda like a visual blurb, get ya innerested in a film.”
“No time fer any a that Pal. Saloons don’t run themselves ya know. Well, ‘cept when Chel and Colleen take the reins.”
“Yep, some fine poetry servin’s then. How’s the Author’s Chair?”
“Got a couple a great writers lined up fer November an’ December. Hope folks come by second Mondays ta engage an’ ask the authors ‘bout their writin’.”


“Yep, the saloon stage is fer the entire Carrot Ranch Literary Community. Folks kin take a seat in the Author’s Chair, kin be innerviewed, or even have their characters come in fer a chat. Jist ‘bout anythin’ goes at the Saddle Up.”
“Zactly. If someone has a idea or a hankerin’ ta take the stage all they have ta do is run it by our writer D. Avery.”
First Mondays– Anyone Can Poem with Chel Owens
Second Mondays– Author’s Chair volunteer
Third Monday– Double Ennead Challenge with Colleen Chesebro
Fourth Monday– Interviews & Showcasing
Fifth Monday– Photo Flash Challenge


CRLC November 11 Challenge “carry on”

Riding Heard

“Kid, is it true Ernie an’ Pepe are workin’ on a anti-frazzlement product?”
“Yep. They wanna make somethin’ ta hep folks carry on an’ keep their thinkin’ straight.”
“Better not be along the lines a Ernie’s Green Garden Gummies. Thet candy ain’t a cure.”
“Relax, Pal. Aussie steered ‘em in a dif’rent direction. They’re workin’ with a gizmo kin connect ta the whole wide world.”
“A computer?”
“Yep. There’s some pitfalls, but push the right buttons ya end up unfrazzled.”
“Ya end up unfrazzled? Where ‘zactly d’ya end up?”
“Carrot Ranch! Among good friends.”
“Hear, hear!”
“Here yer heard.”


With A Little Help From Our Friends

“Hold on Kid. Computers has been aroun’ fer quite a while. So has the World Wide Web. Pepe an’ Ernie ain’t invented nuthin’.”
“No, but Aussie helped ‘em discover somethin’. Fact is, Aussie’s helped a lotta folks find Carrot Ranch, made ‘em feel ta home here. Reckon she’s been a real pillar.”
“Cain’t argue thet. But Shorty broke ground here. Put up the barns an’ bunkhouse an’ all.”
“Planted the carrots, stocked the cookhouse.”
“Put out the invites.”
“Yep, promptly, more or less.”
“So Shorty’s carryin’ on, creatin’ her own solutions.”
“Yep. She’s on the write path.”


CRLC November 18 Challenge “tool”

In the Time of the Beaver Moon

“Jeez, Kid. Look’t them big words up there. Verisimilitude? Cain’t believe Shorty spelt thet c’rectly.”
“True, Pal. But I ain’t got time fer all this talk a tinkerin’ an’ word wrenchin’.”
“Well yer workin’ on somethin’.”
“Yep. Curly’s ready ta come home!”
“Changed her mind ‘bout bein’ a beaver?”
“So why d’ya have all thet grease?”
“Curly done overdid gittin’ ready fer winter. She cain’t git out through the openin’ a the beaver lodge. She’s stuck in there. I gotta git her out.”
“Plenny a tension in this story Kid, but d’ya really ‘spect folks ta believe it?”


No Toolin’

“If folks has been readin’, the facts are all there, Pal. Curly, my pet puglet, ‘dennified as a beaver an’ has been livin’ with the ones thet dammed up the stream that flows through Carrot Ranch. An’ now she wants out but is stuck.”
“Hmmff. It’s true thet puglet never seems ta know if she’s comin’ or goin’. So, ya got a stuck pig and a slick idea fer gittin’ her out thet involves grease.”
“Yep. Hey! Here’s Curly! Reckon the beavers had all the tools needed ta git her freed up.”
“Beavers are smart Pal.”
“No Kidding.”


CRLC November 25 Challenge “canceled flight”


“What’sa matter Kid?”
“Jist once it’d be nice ta git a prompt that’s smooth sailin’. Was hopin’ my ship would come in Pal, but now Shorty’s got us off ta the airport. My storyin’ ideas is grounded.”
“Really? It’s plain ta see yer given ta flights a fancy. Somethin’s sure ta take off.”
“Writin’s hard. I keep losin’ my train a thought.”
“Thinkin’ thet train’s gone roun’ the bend.”
“Jist wing it Kid.”
“Okay, Pal….
*It was a dark and stormy night…*”
“Keep chuggin’ Kid.”
“*So flights was cancelled.*”
“Yer drivin’ me crazy Kid.”
“Roun’ the bend?”


CRLC December 2 Challenge “littlest goat”

Flashin’ Through the Snow

“Dang! Frankie’s gotta make deliveries in this blizzard.”
“Why Pal? Jist wait out the storm.”
“Cain’t, Kid. This flash’s one a them Christmas tropes.”
“Oh. So common sense don’t prevail. Burt’s all saddled?”
“Harnessed. Snow’s pilin’ up. Frankie’s takin’ a sleigh.”
“Curly’ll be a sled hog along with Mause ta point the way. An’ we’ll harness them goats from the Saloon, ‘specially the littlest one.”
“Ya got a littlest goat kid, Kid?”
“Yep. Rudy.”
“S’pose Rudy’s nose lights up.”
“No, we got Ernie fer that. But lil’ Rudy will bleat a warnin’, keep all the other sleighs at bay.”


An’ so Frankie got her team harnessed an’ hitched
took off inta the storm an’ not a one a them bitched
On Curly, on Mause, an’ Pepe blazing the trail
All pullin’ t’gether with holiday mail
An’ Ernie is heppin’, he’s brought along nips
But remindin’ ol’ Frankie to just take wee sips
An’ fin’ly Kid’s goats is doin’ good fer a change
Pullin’ with Burt across snowbound range
In a blizzard so blindin’ all the Christmas tropes could crash
But the little goat with big voice saves the day in a flash

“What d’ya think Kid?”
“Not baaaaaaad.”