Ranch Yarns 2022

New Year, Same Ol Shift

“Hey Pal. What’s new?”

“Well, Kid, a nuther year’s rolled aroun.”

“Yep. 2022. An here we are. Uh, Pal, why are we here?”

“Ta make folks smile, Kid. Sometimes even make em think.”

“I know that. But we ride fer Carrot Ranch. Why’s our page a yarns at ShiftnShake?”

“Reckon cuz D. Avery still claims ta be our writer an this here’s her spread.”

“So this’s like the yarn barn?”

“Reckon.”

“But we’re still free range? Still rope the prompts Shorty turns out?”

“Yep.”

“An we manage the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“Yep.”

“So nuthin much new…”

“Write on Kid.”

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“Pal, one thing new an difrent’s been this long break from the Ranch.”

“Yep, Shorty’s had some tough wranglin ta do at Headquarters.”

“But you been watchin over Carrot Ranch.”

“Yep, keepin an eye on the stock.”

“The cattle?”

“No, the stock behin the bar at the Saloon. Was there sippin an thinkin when a fella comes in wearin a mask, which I ‘preciated. But then he says ta hand over all the bit coin.”

Nanjo!  

“Yep. Didn need im ta be unmasked ta know his true iden’ity.”

“In 2022 bein unmasked sure reveals somethin bout ya.”

“Yep.”

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Back At It

“Kid!”
“Shush, Pal, I seen it.”
“So, git up, git ready. We’ll have some wrangling ta do come Monday.”
“I am gittin ready. I’m busy hibernatin. I’m gone dormant, like how the Poet Tree sheds its leaves an gits all quiet like, ruminatin unner ground at its roots.”
“Hmm. Reckon the Ranch is gittin back ta its roots fer a while too.”
“Yep. Ta everthin there’s a season. Jist now it’s winter, an I’m content.”
“Kid! Yer growin up.”
“Reckon so Pal. Found fertile soil at this here Ranch an commenced ta sproutin.”
“99 words at a time.”
“Yep.”

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CRLC February 2, 2022 The Wish They Made

These Wishers Ride Hosses

“A hiatus!”
“Whoa Kid, thet’s a mighty strong word. Asides, how kin ya hate us? Ain’tcha glad we’re back ridin the range tagether?”
“I don’t hate us, Pal. Hiatus— we’re still on break.”
“No we ain’t Kid. Jist back ta basics fer a while.”
“Well, I don’t like change, Pal.”
“Nuthin much’s changed cept the day a Shorty’s postins. I’m cited bout jist enjoyin the Ranch an the ranch hands, 99words at a time. Kinda like a wish I made come true.”
“Yer wishin us outta a job!”
“They’s plenny ta do, Kid.”
“Hmmph.”
“Wish ya’d quit yer whinin.”

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“Hmmph. Changes. One thing ain’t changed is Pal’s whinin bout me whinin. Well I’m jist gonna ride solo fer this one, ain’t ready ta git back with that bossy yahoo. Were still on hiatus, an Pal’s still ridin a high horse.

It sure was nice havin that time away. Away from Pal, away from our writer. I did miss Shorty an the other ranch hans, but it was good ta fill my well if’n ya know what I mean.”

“Kin lead Kid ta the well, cain’t make Kid think!”

“Pal! Wish ya’d jist leave me be fer a change.”

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“Ya might wanna rethink thet wish Kid.”

“Why?”

“Look’t where ya are, Kid.”

“Oh. Uh. It’s a little spooky. Where am I Pal?”

“Ya done harumffed yersef ta the deep end a the Ranch.”

“It’s wooded, with mushrooms an moss.”

“Yep, an they’s hidden springs an caves. There be mystical magical critters in these parts. It’s a place where spoken wishes kin come true.”

“S’pose this is where all them uni-corns hang out.”

“Reckon so. Jist think careful on what ya wish fer Kid.”

“I wish we was back storytellin at Carrot Ranch, 99 words at a time.”

*POOF!*

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“Whoa… Pal, we’re back at the Ranch.”

“In fron a Shorty’s chuck wagon. Kid, member when ya was always wishin fer Shorty ta serve up bacon?”

“That was afore Curly. Was wishin fer a dog, ended up with a hog, an now I’m sworn off a bacon.”

“Thet’s quite a sacrifice Kid.”

“You’ve sacrificed too Pal. Used ta wish I’d go away. Then t’day ya followed me ta the deep ends a the Ranch ta keep me from harm.”

“I wish ya’d keep outta trouble Kid.”

“Ya don’t neither. Ya need me.”

“S’pose. Yer the problem in my story.”

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CRLC February 9, 2022 49ers

“Pal, I reckon Charli Mills an our writer’s maginations got stirred by the same stick.”

“What are ya talkin bout Kid?”

“When Charli Mills was a young’un she knew vestiges of the old West an the California goldrush. Our writer spent some a her childhood in a boardwalked town that sprung up fer the Yukon goldrush. Thinkin they both soaked up some stories an images neither one will ever fergit.”

“Reckon thet’s so Kid. Figger thet stirrin stick’s turned inta a pencil fer them two. But we best stop gossipin. Thar’s gold on this here Ranch.”

“99 carrot gold!”

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Rushin Ta Conclusions

“Come up with a story yet Kid?”

“What’s the rush Pal? Whyn’t ya mine yer own business?”

“Yer lame gold rush puns ain’t gonna git ya a story, Kid. Stories got a beginnin, a middle, an a endin.”

“Hmmph…

Once upon a time there was… a pig that lived… on a ranch. An one day the pig was rootin around when she dug up some shiny nuggets. Gold! So her wunnerful owner could afford a private bunkhouse away from a certain aggravatin annoyance an lived happily ever after.”

“Er, ‘49’?”

“Pig found 49 nuggets. An, count them words Pal.”

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CRLC 2-16-22; Anxiety

Stampede Impede

“Kid, git outta thet bunk already. There’s anuther prompt ta wrangle.”

“Cain’t.”

“Ya feelin okay?”

“No. I’m not. Feelin’ like I jist cain’t do this Pal. I don’t know nuthin bout wrangling words. What’m I even doin’ here? Should never a left back east.”

“Jist shush, Kid. You kin do this.”

“No. I cain’t. Folks’ll laugh at me.”

“Ain’t thet what yer here fer?”

“Oh yeah. Well, what if folks don’t laugh at me? What if I fall flat?”

“Fallin ain’t failin Kid.”

“There’s a stampede thunderin in my chest Pal.”

“You kin do this Kid.”

“Ain’t easy.”

“Nope.”

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“Feelin any better Kid?”

“Little bit. Pal, member when ya fell in that old mine? How ya described fallin inta it an bein down there in the dark… that’s kinda what happens. I jist gotta settle an look fer shafts a light.”

“Reckon Ernie could hep ya out?”

“I’d ruther not go thet route. His cookies kick my butt, an might git that stampede goin agin. I’m jist gonna set a spell, breathe the fresh ranch air.”

“I’ll set with ya, Kid.”

“Hey Pal?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks fer not accusin me a whinin or sayin this ain’t real.”

“ ’S’okay Kid.”

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Hep Jis Blew In

“Ello, Mees Shorty. Ees been long time, no?”

“Pepe LeGume! What brings you here?”

“I have read da leest; I notice dere ees not aroma-terapy. I would like to offer dees for you and your ranch hands.”

“You, Pepe?”

“Oui. Me. I know a leetle about de power of scents.”

“No stanks, Pepe. Er, thanks; no thanks. Really.”

“I can see dat you need me. You seem a leetle anxious.”

“It’s just that… I’m not so sure about your aroma therapy, Pepe.”

“I would tink you would be more open to dees.”

“Uh, how about we open a window. Pepe, as long as the scents are essential — lavender, peppermint, rosemary. Last I checked, processed bean was not an essential aromatherapy scent. But a good inclusion in our Mental Health Toolbox!”

“Dere ees no one scent for all, Mees Shorty, as you know. I tell you what does not steenk and what ees essential. Dees Ranch. As a voice een some one’s head, eet ees good to have dees place to come to an not be judged. And might I recommend to you another herb you might want to take a beeg wheef of; thyme. I teenk you could use thyme to breathe.”

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Faux Better Not Wurst

“Whut brings on yer anxiety, Kid?”

“Most anythin if’n I think on it too much.”

“Thinkin ya shouldn’t think on things too much.”

“Been thinkin on that rogue bear that’s been spied ranging roun the ranch.”

“Rogue bear! Thet mebbe cause fer some anxiousness.”

“I’m anxious cause it’s Curly. In a fur coat.”

“Really? Fur? Whut fer?”

“Faux fur. Fer her ta keep warm. But now with the rampant rumors of a rogue bear roamin the ranch I’m real worried bout bear hunters.”

“Only things get hunted at Carrot Ranch is stories, Kid. This un’ll turn out all right.”

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“I know, I know Pal. Carrot Ranch is a safe place an this story’ll jist have ta turn out all right fer Curly in her fur coat, but I cain’t hep thinkin someone’s gonna wanna open season on a bear that’s wanderin aroun. An if somethin happens cause I put my pig in a fur coat—”

“Faux fur, Kid. Fer her. Jist calm down. Ya were jist tryin ta take care a yer hoglet, make her comforble.”

“That’s jist it, Pal. It were actually a selfish move. See, I wanted Curly ta be more snuggly. Fer my comfort.”

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“Kid, ya ain’t got ta git all anxious bout a pig in a fur coat bein took fer a bear. Think pos-tively. Envisionin like.”

“Okay.”

“Ya visioned yer hoglet bein warm an snuggly in thet coat.”

“Yep.”

“Now vision folks findin thet so, mebbe pettin her.”

“I see it Pal. She’s gittin lots a attenshun. An food too! Everone’s feelin good.”

“Good Kid, thet’s a good vision.”

“An I ain’t worried bout her bein mistook fer a bear no more. She et so much she burst the buttons on the fur coat.”

“But yer anxious agin Kid.”

“Curly’ll freeze!”

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CRLC 2-23-22; Zipper

Fighting Teeth and Tale

“Kid, did I jist see thet puglet a yers in a Finlandia Lions hoodie?”

“Yep. No more faux fur fer her! That sweatshirt keeps her warm whilst showin support.”

“Thet splains thet. Now what bout you? Back out?”

“Ain’t backin outta nuthin. I’m steppin up. I cleaned up, got ma best shirt on. Case we git university folks comin roun.”

“Kin see yer shined up a might, shirts tucked in, but it looks more like yer steppin down. Yer bent over.”

“I’m stuck Pal. Shirt’s in my zipper. Zippin up done brought me down.”

“Cain’t make this zip up.”

🥕🥕🥕

“What I need is fer the zip ta go down!”

“I’m tryin Kid! An fer the record, this’s the most awkward situation I been in fer you.”

“Does give new meanin ta the fact that yer crotchety Pal. Ow!”

“Ya cain’t wriggle outta yer jeans or yer shirt cuz yer too bent over. Gonna have ta cut it.”

“No! Don’t cut ma fancy shirt!”

“Well, thet zip ain’t budgin. Kid, I’m gonna have ta go fer hep.”

“Hep? Who?”

“Who else? Fact, she should be here with Burt soon makin her appointed rounds.”

“Frankie?”

“She’ll have the zip code.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Pal, where’s Frankie?”

“Laughin so hard tears is streamin from her eye. Says there ain’t no zip code fer the place yer at Kid.”

“Dang! Feel like I’m codin. I’m slippin inta last week’s prompt— anxiety!”

“Slip all the way back ta the wishes prompt Kid. Ya got three.”

“Ok. Wish ya wouldn’t cut my shirt.”

“Grannid. But you’ll remain in yer present situation.”

“Well I wish I could stand up.”

“Grannid. But in yer present situation we’ll have ta cut yer shirt.”

“I wish this situation were presently over!”

“Grannid.”

“Pal! Ma shirt! Dang ya!”

“Zip it, Kid.”

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CRLC 3-2-22; D’ruther Be

Shift ‘n Snow

“Hmmff. What’s this, the dang Yellow Submarine prompt? Kin tell ya, I’d ruther be unner the sea in an octopus’ garden then gittin buried by this dang snow. Agin. How bout you Kid? Kid? Ah, jeez, Kid’s already out in it, all I kin see is thet shovel tossin snow as Kid carves a path ta the barn. Agin. Once Kid’s finally got shoveled all the way ta the barn, dang fool picks up another shovel and cleans the stalls. Thing is, I don’t reckon there’s any place thet Kid’d ruther be then behin a shovel at Carrot Ranch.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 3-9-22; Farm Life

Don’t Fence Us In

“Kid, if ya really cain’t come up with anythin fer the prompt, mebbe ya should farm it out, have someone else do it fer ya.”

“Might have ta. Mebbe you could tell bout yer cousins’ Turnip Farm, Pal. Pal, what’s the dif’rence tween a ranch an a farm? Like why ain’t this Carrot Farm?”

“Reckon one dif’rence is thet this is a free range place, lotsa wrangling an roundin up but no cultivated pastures.”

“So we ain’t pasture-ized…”

“An we ain’t homogenized neither Kid. Ever response ta the prompts is unique an individual.”

“Like all the wunnerful ranch hands!”

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CRLC 3-16-22; Robotic Writer

I Shovel 2.0

“Pal? Ya ‘voidin me?”

“No… Mebbe… Yeah. Don’t wanna hear yer whining an complainin bout this prompt.”

“How kin I complain bout writin if’n I have a writin machine? It’s perfect, cuz I’d ruther be shovelin an sech then writin.”

“Well, look’t you, Kid, embracin change, gittin all modern. I’m jist worried what Shorty’s gonna spring on us next. She’s been talkin bout changes at the ranch. What if she means ta bring more automation, more machines? Replaces the hosses with quads an tractors. Kid, we could be replaced!”

“She wouldn’t.”

“Could git i-shovels.”

“Shift! But I shovel! Shorty!”

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“Kid, what’s the matter? Guessin ya don’t like the prompt.”

“Oh, a writin gizmo’s a fine idea, Shorty. But are you asweep at the wheel? Replacin me with a i-shovel an a roto-rootin-tootin poop-scoopin Roomba? It’ll upset the animals. It’ll get stuck in the muck. A whole lot kin go wrong, an even if it don’t, I’ll be outta work! What’ll I do if I ain’t got shift ta shovel?”

“Kid, we’re just story tellin about a robotic writer. You’re always welcome ta shovel shift till the cows come home.”

“No machines?”

“Machine machinations are all in your imagination.”

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CRLC 3-23-22; Free Pie

Slices of Math 1/3

“Whoa. Stop. Back up. A cowsino? I bet that’ll be fun!”

“Don’t be a April fool, Kid. We best git over there an give thet saloon a good spring cleanin. Last I knew yer dang kid goats were gambolin aroun the place.”

“I’m 3.14159… steps ahead a ya Pal. Farmed the goats out couple weeks ago. An, as I’d ruther be doin jist bout anythin asides cleanin, I hired Pepe an Logatha’s cleanin service.”

“LeGume?”

“Yep. Fresh Air Cleanin Company— fer a clean that lingers. So zipper yer pie hole Pal. I got this.”

“I got anxiety bout thet.”

🥕🥕🥕

Slices of Math 2/3

“Hey Shorty.”

“Hey Pal. Where’s Kid?”

“Give Kid the slip, figgered it’d be a hep not ta have Kid’s hep if ya needed hep here at the saloon.”

“Everythin’s good. Just checkin the stage lightin. Come set a spell out on the veranda.”

“It’s nice an quiet, but it’ll be good ta have folks roun the saloon agin.”

“Speakin a quiet, what exactly is Kid up to?”

“I give Kid a free pi.”

“Pie?”

“Pi. Said ta measure the circumf’rence of a pie real careful then divide thet by its diameter till the dividin was done.”

“Ha! Endless fun.”

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Slices of Math 3/3

“It’s a rare moment, Pal, the two of us relaxin in the sun. Oh, oh. Is that Kid headin our way?”

“Dang. There goes thet peace of pi. Kid. Ya cain’t possibly be finished with thet division.”

“Pal, that was irrational! So I divided the pie a diffrent way. Sectors.”

“Them’s some mighty thin slivers a pie.”

“Yeah… but the fractions have ta be small so ever ranch hand gits a equal share. Sharin is carin.”

“Look you two. Everyone brings their piece of pie to the table ta make a beautiful whole.”

“Way ta sum it up Shorty.”

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Free Pies, Y’all

“No, Pal, I ain’t been putting lipstick on ma pet pig.”

“Then ‘splain ta me why she’s all cherry red roun her snout.”

“Cherry? Oh shift! The free pies! Curly must a got inta the pies I set out fer folks.”

“Jeez Kid! Ya’ve really gone an done it this time.”

“Ya gotta hep me Pal, afore Shorty gets wind a this.”

“Phew, speakin a wind. Pepe LeGume jist blew in.”

“Ello Keed, Pal. Dere ees only one teeng to do, and dat ees to do eet again.”

“A free pies reprise?”

“Oui. We weel get baking, no?”

“Yes!”

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“Kid, what’re ya doin, hangin out here? Derek ain’t gonna do all yer chores.”

eatin pies freely

tastin life’s many flavors

‘neath poet tree’s crown

“Dang it Kid, this ain’t the time or place fer yer buckaroo-ku! An stop eatin all the free pies! Yer worse then Curly.”

soft sweetness

unnerneath Pal’s crust

fork it over

“Tellin ya Kid, ya best git a move on. There’s a whole other challenge bout change. Ya ready fer thet?”

half-baked is too raw

change’ll come roun in due time

fresh pie oven hot

“Hmmff. S’pose we’ll put pies on the Saloon menu.”

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CRLC 3-30-22; Ready For a Change

Airin Fears

“Ello Keed. Pal. Change is in de air, no?”

“Sumthin’s in the air LeGume. Jeez, kin ya least stan downwind?”

“Pal, whyn’t ya change yer curmudgeony ways? Choose kind.”

“Cuz I kinda don’t wanna, Kid. Whyn’t you change, you an yer stanky frien? Stop annoyin me.”

“Better stanky then cranky. What’s really troublin ya Pal?”

“Ain’t ready fer change, Kid. What if we do have ta change our ways?”

“Change steenks, no?”

“You know it Pepe.”

“Yeah! Last week she was pushin robo-writin. Matter a time afore we lose the hosses.”

“Aye, Kid.”

“Ayiii! An i-Kid? That’s in-app-propriate. Shorty!!”

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No Way Ready Fer a Change

“Dees i-Kid app could be good change. Thees would be an app that helps people do what Keed does. Keed, what ees eet you do?”

“Um, well it’s hard sayin, zactly.”

“Look, mebbe it ain’t a automated Kid she’s changin ta. Mebbe it’s sumthin else.”

“Oui, perhaps she ees changeeng from carrots to parsneeps. Ees catchy. Parsneeps for de people.”

“Reckon Shorty wouldn’t never change from carrots, LeGume. LeGume! Shorty’s always favored ya. She might change from carrots ta beans!”

“So? Bean Ranch. A rooteeng tooteeng place for readers and writers to be heard. Leave a mark.”

“This stinks.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Pal, there ain’t no way Shorty’s changing ta robo-writers or auto i-kids. An no way carrots’ll ever git changed ta anything cept more carrots fer more folks ta injoy. Only thing’s changed so far is you! Ain’t this bout the time when yer s’posed ta git me calmed down, put things in perspective? Mebbe she’s switchin ta chickens!”

“Change’s skeery, Kid. A river a change is a rough stretch a water ta paddle. Reckon I’m grateful fer whatever paddle comes ta hand.”

“Tell it Pal.”

“Reckon no one ever steps in the same river twice no how.”

“No shift!”

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CRLC 4-06-22; Disappearance

Disappearing Acts

“What?”
“New Moon, Kid. April Fool’s Day.”
“Callin me a fool?”
“Nope. Sayin this is a powerful time. Time a change an time ta set intentions.”
“Visionin?”
“Sure, Kid. It’s a new year.”
“I ain’t never been good at visionin. I jist hang out here at the ranch, grab onta shootin stars.”
“They’s plenny a stars here Kid. An Shorty’s north star lights up the whole place.”
“Sure does. Cain’t believe I’m lucky ‘nough ta be here at Carrot Ranch as it transforms inta…”
“Inta what Kid?”
“Inta…”
“Inta another phase a its own self.”
“Not disappearin?”
“Nope. Re-appearin.”

🥕🥕🥕

Story in Mind

“Kid, what’re ya so grumpy fer now? Ya said you was happy knowin the saloon’ll be openin agin soon.”

“Ain’t ta do with the saloon Pal.”

“Well Shorty’s told ya ta stop worryin bout robo-writers an i-Kids, assured ya there’s plenny a shift fer you ta shovel.”

“Yep, I’m all set, ready fer changes an fer what stays the same.”

“Then what’s botherin ya? Cain’t be the prompt, ya said ya had a great story in mind fer it.”

“Yep. I did. Got it all writ too, on the computer.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“Fergot ta save. Story disappeared.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Kid there’s gotta be a way ta git thet story back.”

“Tried everthin.”

“Well, it come outta yer head. Poke around up there, see if ya kin write it agin.”

“Yeah, bout that. My head’s gittin ta be one a them places, ya cain’t set nuthin down fer even a instant or it disappears.”

“Ya must member something bout thet story.”

“Was 99 words, no more no less.”

“Uh-huh. What was them words about?”

“Bout a hundred, give or take.”

“Kid! What was the story about?”

“Disappearances…”

“What else?”

“Member it was a great story.”

“Greatest story never told.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 4-13-22; Lunch Eating Baby Ducks

Web Footed Fowl Prompt

“Where ya been Pal?”

“Ridin the Ranch, checkin on things. There’s a bunch a ducks on the creek below Ernie’s jist now.”

“Yep, they layover there, headed back north.”

“Well, ya best git ready, Kid, there’s gonna be a whole lotta ducks all over the ranch. A fowl prompt, gonna be worse then thet cat prompt, member thet one? Was a tough roundup, it was like herdin… cats! An now ducklins.”

“Baby ducks, Pal. Cute! But yer gonna lose yer lunch.”

My lunch?”

“Yep, that’s what the prompt says. But I’ll share mine with ya.”

“Thet’s jist ducky, Kid.”

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Peaceful Easy Feedin

“Was down ta the creek, Pal. Jist watchin the river flow, all peaceful.”

“Hmmf. Doin thet Kid-hartha thing agin. Was the north goin ducks still there?”

“Nope, all flown on, cept fer a momma mallard an her ducklins.”

“Cain’t be, ain’t been time fer thet.”

“Power a fiction, Pal, suspen yer disbelief. Anyways, that’s where the peace come from. Ducklins peepin, ‘Peace, peace, peace’. I watched. Fed em my lunch.”

“Thet was foolish.”

“I kin spare it. Thinkin if hope is the thing with feathers, it must start out downy soft like a ducklin, swimmin afore flyin. Worth feedin.”

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CRLC 4-20-22; Water Falls

Though it’d been claimed that neither rain nor snow nor dark of night (or some such things) were to keep her from her appointed rounds, the rain was falling something fierce. Frankie led Burt onto the veranda of the bunkhouse where the old horse gratefully shook himself. Frankie looked back through the veil of water falling from the eves. Two figures emerged in the mist—

“Pepe! Logatha! Git up here outta that torrent.”

“Are day here?”

“Nope.”

“Day are not in de barn, day have not been by da saloon. Shorty hasn’t heard anyteeng. Keed and Pal are gone!”

🥕🥕🥕

Frankie used her handkerchief to dry her eye while musing on the disappearance of Kid and Pal. She reached into the mail pouch to show the LeGumes what might or might not be a clue.

“Eet ees a post card. What does eet say?”

“The ink has run in the rain.”

“Yes, dees card ees poorly wreeten.”

“All I kin make out is Dear Ranc…”

“Rancid? No! Ranchers! Dear Ranchers… and look, eet is signed DAVE. Den eet ees blurry again.”

“Dave? D. Avery! She must know somethin.”

“Not so much, I teenk, Frankie. And she ees gone too.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 4-27-22; Never Ending

No End Ta the Mys’try

Leaving Pepe and Logatha at the bunkhouse, Frankie and old Burt trudged through the relentless rain on up to Ernie’s place.
“Howdy Frankie. Ya bringin mail in this wet mess?”
“No mail fer ya t’day, Ernie. Was wundrin if ya’ve seen Kid and Pal lately. Mebbe they’re holed up here?”
“No, I ain’t seen em. Figger they’d be hangin out at the saloon, what with all the goin-ons.”
“Ya’d think, but they ain’t been there. Ain’t been anywhere lately.”
“Mebbe their writer finally got em corralled and shut up.”
“She ain’t been around either, Ernie.”
“Mysterious!”
“Yep. Endless intrigue.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Ain’t like them two ta be away from the ranch or the saloon. Reckon Shorty fired em?”
“Not likely. Everone’s welcome at Carrot Ranch, you know thet. Reckon thet also means folks is welcome ta mosey on.”
“Those yahoos wouldn’t. Couldn’t. Ain’t never seen characters more innertwined with place.”
“Mebbe thet writer a theirs jist stopped writin em.”
“Frankie, what happens ta characters thet don’t get writ no more? Do they…?”
“No! Once let onta the page fictional characters is immortal. Even have super powers, kin git transformed an emboldened by readers.”
“Like an endless string a yarn.”
“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 5-04-22; Up and Away

Whut’s Up? K & P Still Away

While Frankie and Ernie mused on the mystery of missing ranch hands Kid and pal, spring sprang. At long last the rain and snow ceased falling, finally the sun shone. Like a flower bursting into bloom, Ernie had an idea.
“Hot air!”
“Yep, air’s considerably warmer now Ernie.”
“No. Pepe. He’s got a hot air balloon. Me and him will git in it an go up and away searchin fer Kid and Pal.”
“He an I.”
“Think it’d be better if me an him did this, Frankie.”
Frankie only hoped their slick sleuthing didn’t balloon into a basket case.

🥕🥕🥕

Frankie, Burt, Tip and Top Lemmon, and Wanda let go the ropes and watched Pepe and Ernie ascend into the clear blue skies over Carrot Ranch.
“Not ta be negative, but I don’t think they’re gonna find em. We already searched the ranch. What I think, is thet writer a theirs jist put her dang pen up an away an now they’re in Limbo.”
“Wanda, why would they be bendin over backwards unner a stick?”
“No Top, Limbo’s thet far gone dude ranch. Past Slim Chance’s place even.”
Meanwhile, in the basket, Ernie and Pepe pondered their next move.

🥕🥕🥕

“Pepe, ya sure ya kin keep this contraption in the air?”
“I have never run out of gas Ernie. Where shall we search for Keed and Pal?”
“Fictional characters disappeared from a virtual ranch… they could be anywhere. They could be nowhere. Mebbe Kid finely turned tail, went back east.”
“Keed leave dees ranch? Not when dere ees steel beer in da saloon. And Keed weel not leave Curly. Day are somewhere. We weel find dem.”
“Uh, Pepe, how d’ya steer these thangs?”
“I do not know. We weel have to go where da prompt leads. Up and away!”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 5-11-22; Extraction

Home On the Ranch At Last

“Dang it Pepe, we been all around the world in this stinkin hot air balloon a yers, still ain’t seen hide ner hair a Kid an Pal.”
“Deed you notice Ernie, dat we saw da whole world an never left da ranch? Dees ees a worldwide community!”
“Thet’s great, but where in the world are Kid an Pal? How’s this Mz Trie Wrighter gonna extract us from this endless mythtry?”
“I teenk you mean extricate, but oui, she ees not much better den D. Avery. We weel land dees balloon behind de saloon. Frankie an dem are waiting dere.”

🥕🥕🥕

Frankie and the gang got the balloon secured. After extracting Ernie and Pepe from the basket, they went around to the front of the Saddle Up Saloon.
“Hey y’all.”
“Pal! Keed! Where in de world ‘ave you bean?”
“What d’ya mean? Was down by the crick, where ducklins was eatin Kid’s lunch. Next thing we know, here we are.”
“Pal, ducklins was a month ago. Ya ain’t been seen since.”
“Whoa. Stop. Back up. What?!”
“Ees true, Keed. Ees beeg meestery where you two ‘ave bean.”
“Mebbe we all should set at the Saddle Up bar, have a think.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Who gives a shift where dees two ‘ave bean?”
“Mon cheri!”
“Just sayeeng; dey’re here now.”
“I’m with Logatha. Characters wander. They wander back.”
“Okay, thank you Logatha an Wanda. Tip? Top? Any ideas?”
“Nope.”
“Not a one ‘twixt the two of us, Frankie.”
“Haven’t heard much from you Kid.”
“Feel dazed an confused, Frankie.”
“Ah ain’t rulin out alien deduction.”
“That’s it, Ernie!”
“Ain’t neither. Me an Kid weren’t beamed up.”
“No, but we kin let the readers an writers deduce where ya been, let the ranch community extract truth, extricate us from this endless misery.”
“Mystery.”
“Write.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 5-18-22; Mommies’ Selfies

Mudder Mucker Kid

“Good ta have ya back Pal.”
“Thanks. Kid too?”
“Course! Where’s Kid at, anyways?”
“There. A ranch hand and swine reunion is only a motion away.”
“Oh, yeah, a-huggin Curly.”
“Yep. Now feedin thet hog her fav’rite dish, curried carrots an cornbread.”
“Lucky pig.”
“Curly?”
“Yep. Now look, Kid’s bathin Curly an now’s rubbin sunscreen all over her. How thoughtful. An whut’s that, a new collar?”
“Necklace. Pearls fer swine. Uh-oh. Kid’s hand’s got stuck in thet necklace with Curly took off runnin through the barns.”
“Them barns ain’t been shoveled since y’all disappeared.”
“Shift! What a mudder!”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 5-25-22; Puppies and Prisoners

Released

“Know whut I’m thinkin Pal?”

“Nope, but I gotta feelin yer gonna tell me.”

“Thinkin I’d just a-soon we was still somewheres else this week. I got nuthin.”

“Jeez, Kid. Already back whining bout the prompts?”

“Mebbe we was imprisoned, Pal.”

“Don’t think so Kid.”

“Yeah, jailed, but training puglets ta hep vets.”

“Vetternarians?”

“No, veterans. Service hogs fer those who served.”

“Servin up bacon?”

“That ain’t funny, Pal. Think a Curly.”

“Thinkin mebbe ya should oughta disappear agin, lay low till there’s a easier challenge.”

“Think I will. Come on, Curly. See ya later Pal.”

“Phew! I’m free!”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 6-01-22; Well’s Gone Dry

“Kid, thet’s my kinda music!”

“Yep. That’s why I put it inta the jukebox at the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“Yer purty perky t’day Kid.”

“Yep, an why not? I don’t know where I’ve been, but I sure know where I’m at. Good ol Carrot Ranch! An’ Shorty give us a prompt I kin relate ta. Sure hope she gits her pump primed.”

“Don’t worry Kid, Shorty’ll freshen her creative springs. Thinkin she’s been so busy fillin an other’s mug she’s feelin a might wilted.”

“Well, I won’t be a pain in her glass. This prompt’s gonna lead ta water!”

🥕🥕🥕

“Whoa. Kid, I don’t know what ta think. Yer not complainin bout yer well run dry? Whut’d ya, give up whinin?”

“Sure did Pal. Beerin an whiskeyin too.”

“Kid’s gone dry? Whut about cider, ya give thet up?”

“Ain’t yet de-cidered. Tellin ya though Pal, water’s the best drink goin. Water is life.”

“Huh. Fer the life a me, didn’t figger on this. But Kid, ain’tcha wastin anuther valu’ble fluid jist now?”

“What d’ya mean?”

“Ink. Comments ain’t the collection. Ya yack here, ya still gotta draw 99 words fer the collection.”

“This’s where I fill ma well, Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Diggin Inta Pre-Herstory

“All thet pencil tappin tells me yer still drillin, Kid.”

“Looks that way Pal. Well’s gone dry after all. But I ain’t whinin, it’ll come.”

“Thet’s the spirit. Meantime, I’ll tell ya bout a character come through here one time, a water witch a sorts she was…

This was way back when the ranch wasn’t a ranch, was jist a seed rattlin roun young Shorty’s head, could a been mistaken fer stardust, it was so small at thet time. Anyway, this water witch come through an took out her dowzin rods.”

“Lookin fer water?”

“Nope. A well a creativity.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Did that water witch character find creativity, Pal?”

“Ya kiddin, Kid? Them dowzin sticks was dancin a jig all over the ranch.”

“Ya said it weren’t the ranch yet.”

“Shush Kid.

This entire area was a vortex a creativity; the site a the saloon, the comments, the collection. She had Ernie dig a well at the challenge post. Ernie was smart, commenced ta diggin whilst wearin a blowup uni-corn floatie roun his middle.”

“What fer?”

“Cuz he knew thet well was gonna gush!

Sure ‘nough, ol’ Ernie come ashootin up outta thet hole he dug like a bottle rocket.”

🥕🥕🥕

“What happened ta Ernie’s unicorn?”

“They say thet uni-corn floatie come ta life thet day, thet it kin yet be found wandrin the place thet come ta be Carrot Ranch. As fer the water witch, she moved on, said she’d left her mark.”

“A watermark?”

“Shush Kid.

She went on her way but assured one an all, past, present an future, thet the creative wells would always be full at this magical place, long as folks kept dippin an sippin. Ever since there’s been a rainbow over the place.”

“A rainbow an a north star!”

“Yep. Shinin on ferever.”

🥕🥕🥕

All’s Well That Ends Well, by A. Kid

Once upon a time Pal disappeared, an Kid too, but only ‘cause Kid had ta save Pal.

 Ever day Kid and the intrepid puglet, Curly, looked fer Pal.

Until Curly figgered mebbe Pal had fallen inta the well.

Because of that Kid an Curly run ta the well an looked in only ta find the well had run dry.

Because of that Pal wasn’t drowned but got knocked on the rocks.

Because of that Pal may or may not be sure if this is a true story or not.

Finally, Kid an Curly pulled Pal up outta the well.

🥕🥕🥕

“Kid, I’m happy fer ya thet yer creative well is flowin agin, but thet ain’t a true account at all! Heck, it ain’t even good fiction. Did ya think mebbe ya shoulda changed the names, put in a disclaimer bout co-incidennal similarities?”

“Change the names? Pal, we’re already fictional characters, so… Anyways, reframe yer comments. Cain’t ya say anythin positive?”

“Well, dispite the unlikely hero, I liked thet ever’one come out okay. An I like how ya used the story spine like folks’ll use at the Cowsino ever first Friday of the month.”

“Heehee. Yep. Jist primin the pump.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 6-08-22; Memorial

“Pal, how come they’s no memorials on the ranch?”

“Well, Kid, mebbe cuz Carrot Ranch jist IS. Everlastin here an now.”

“Really? We’re in a perpetual present?”

“Virtually, yep.”

“I’m disagreein, Pal. Carrot Ranch has a history, but more important, Carrot Ranch’s got a future. I want a memorial. Right here, right now.”

“So imagine one inta existence Kid.”

“Ok… Hmmm… It should honor ever’one who dares ta write fer the ranch… readers too… I know! How ‘bout gatherin stories t’gether in one place?!”

“Good idea Kid. Thinkin Shorty calls thet the Collection.”

“Yep, each one monumental.”

“Write on.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 6-15-22; Stone Stacking

“What’s it Look like I’m doin Pal?”

“Looks like ya’ve got a heap a stones an now yer stackin em jist so, Kid.”

“Buildin a wall, Pal.”

“On Carrot Ranch?! Someone there is thet don’t love a wall.”

“Buildin four walls. Gotta pen up Curly, she’s gittin inta everthin lately.”

“Ah! To a piggery, go!”

“Climb outta the Poet Tree an hep me Pal.”

“Nah. Injoyin this vantage point. Ya seem centered Kid.”

“It is satisfyin, workin with stone.”

“Surrouned by peace?”

“Yep.”

“Them wall’s gittin real high Kid. Ain’t no way Curly’ll git out.”

“Nope.”

“Or you.”

“Shift!”

🥕🥕🥕

“Hey Kid! Whilst ya been buildin thet pig pen, I penned a buckaroo-ku up here in the ol Poet Tree:

when ya build yer walls

stones stacked from the inside out

leave an openin

stones unturned keep Kid penned in

no key fer a gate ain’t there

“Heehee! Kid ya built thet pen aroun yersef with no openin!”

“Tanka very much fer watchin me do it Pal. Now git me out.”

“I’ll think on it. Here’s Doc Ranger. Mebbe she kin hep ya outta yer enclosure.”

“I can try, but Kid you have to really want to get out.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Why a course I wanna git outta this stone stacked inclosure Doc Ranger. Why wouldn’t I?”

‘That, Kid, in the final analysis, is the key question. How do you feel in there?”

“Feel trapped Kid?”

“Didn’t feel trapped til ya brought it ta my ‘tention Pal. No, I was injoyin stackin stones. Was admirin the patterns of the walls. Feels comfterble in here.”

“Kid yer stonewallin. Yer trapped in yer new pig pen. A stuck Kid.”

“Shush Pal.”

“Kid, what are you escaping by penning yourself away?”

“Jist gimme a pen, Doc, so’s I kin write myself outta here.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 6-22-22; Danger Zone

Write Over Their Heads

“Hey Shorty.”

“Hey, Pal! Where’s Kid? Headed to the Danger Zone?”

“Kid’s still stuck in a self-made stone zone. Went an built a pigpen outta stone from the inside out, kep stackin stones up an up an overhead til it was over Kid’s head. Now Kid’s stuck there in thet pen.”

“Should I head over?”

“Kin if ya want. Last I saw, Doc Ranger was tryin ta talk Kid outta there. Kid sent me ta git a pen fer ta write a way outta thet pen. But I ain’t in no danger a Kid findin me here injoyin breakfast.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Kid! It’s me, Shorty! Why ever did you build the pig pen walls so high?”

“Jist kep goin I s’pose. It’s where the stacking stones prompt led. Now I cain’t climb out. Where’s Pal with that writin pen?”

“I’ve got it. I’ve tied a pen and paper to a rock. I’m tossing it over the wall for ya.”

“Yikes! I’m in a danger zone. Ow!”

“Sorry. Kid, I think it’s great you want to write your way out of this predicament.”

“Got to. Doc Ranger’s questions was drivin me crazy. Pal jist laughed. Here. I’m done writin.”

“Already? Ow!”

🥕🥕🥕

“That was some quick writing Kid. Can’t wait to read the conclusion to this unbelievable fictional conundrum. Maybe you’ll use this week’s danger zone prompt to blast your way through a wall with dynamite. Or maybe Pepe and Ernie will come up with some whacky scheme to get you out, maybe with the hot air balloon, or Aussie’s zipline. Maybe Curly will go Lassie again and tunnel you out. Kid, did you write the resolution in 99 words, no more, no less?”

“Less, Shorty. Jist read it.”

“‘Fetch a ladder.’ Huh. That’d do it.”

“Yep. Kept it simple, Shorty.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 6-29-22; Freedom

Where Hogs Run Free

“Hey Kid. Looks like ya got yersef free a thet too-tall pigpen ya made by stackin stones.”

“Jist asked fer a ladder, Pal. Though it were a stretch fer her, Shorty hepped. Which is more’n I kin say fer you.”

“I was injoyin bein free a you while you was stuck there in yer pen. Anyway, yer free now, jist in time fer the freedom prompt. How’s thet feel?”

“Ain’t never felt nuthin but free here at the Ranch, Pal; free ta jist go where the prompt leads… free ta x’periment with writin… heck even the carrots are free!”

🥕🥕🥕

“Won’t be no carrots if’n ya don’t do something bout that free-rangin free-loadin carrot-eatin hog a yers, Kid. Git thet animal penned up!”

“Won’t neither, Pal. Curly’s gonna keep roamin free roun Carrot Ranch. But look what I done. I lowered the walls ta that pen, but they’s still high ‘nough ta keep Curly out. Planted the carrots inside there where they’ll be safe. An I used the extra rocks from the extra tall walls ta make a labyrinth.”

“Why?”

“Folks kin do a walkin meditation.”

“Won’t they git lost?”

“Nope. They’ll git centered an free their minds.”

“Amazing!”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 7-13-22; Swarm

“Always thoughta Shorty as havin a sunny disposition, Kid, but seems ta be a dark cloud over her.”

“It’s that swarm a blackflies from headquarters. We ain’t gotta worry bout them here at the Ranch.”

“Why’s thet?”

“Bein fictional has its advantages, Pal. An we got Pepe. He’s made a product called LeGume’s La Fume, a organic grass roots bug repellent.”

“Ass toots? Hmmf. Jist keep LeGume an his products from stinkin up the Saloon, Kid. Folks is gonna be swarmin ta the Cowsino Friday ta play the story spine slots.”

“More writin prompts?! That don’t stink Pal!”

“Nope!”

🥕🥕🥕

Wrangle, Wangle, a Swing and a Swish

“Thought I heard the whine of a swarm a bugs, but it’s jist Kid.”

“Hmmph. Pal, I’m thinkin Pepe’s repellent works too good. I cain’t net an idea fer this prompt even with an extension.”

“Thet bites. Yer usually buzzin with ideas.”

“Yeah, sometimes I’m swamped with ideas, but lately— jist swamped. Reckon I’ll go fer a walk.”

“Out on the sward? Thet might hep ya git ideas fer this prompt.”

“Or mebbe I’ll swing by Ernie’s swath of old still stream. Come on Curly!”

“Swimmin with yer swine?”

“Yep. You comin too?”

“Might’s well.”

“Swell.”

 “It’s so warm.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 7-20-22; For a Day

Over Herd

“Whoa. Stop. Back up. Shorty’s a dog? But… I thought…”

“Relax Kid. Names ain’t exclusive. Shorty’s Shorty. An once upon a time Shorty had a dog called Shorty.”

“Oh. Phew. Cuz far as I’m concerned they’s only one Shorty.”

“Ya know Kid, there might be a lesson in this post fer you.”

“What’re ya gittin at Pal?”

“Meanin mebbe ya should reconsider keepin a pig as a pet.”

“Curly’s a workin ranch puglet, Pal.”

“Really? What zactly does Curly work at Kid?”

“Works right along side a me.”

“Uh-huh. An zactly what is it you do agin?”

“Shush Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Gifted Kid

“Pal, was you ever young?”

“Sayin I’m old Kid?”

“Sayin yer always sayin ya’ve been at Carrot Ranch ferever. So was you a kid here, with parents an all?”

“Works thet way fer some fictional characters, but not all. Nope, I was never a kid, Kid.”

“So ya jist showed up full blown onta the page?”

“Well, I’d like ta think I’ve developed some, but yep, full-blown, full-grown.”

“Huh. So what bout Shorty’s question? Got a icon a yer past, Pal?”

“Was kinda hopin it’d be you.”

“I ain’t from yer past.”

“Nope, but that’d be a nice present.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 7-27-22; Floating

Hot Air Currents

“Hey Pal. Where’s Kid?”

“Look up, Shorty. Kid’s floatin over the ranch with LeGume in thet infernal fume powered hot air balloon a his.”

“You didn’t wanna go?”

“Thet don’t float my boat. Asides, they’re warn’t no room. Curly hopped aboard, then Burt wanted ta go. Have a look with these bi-noc’lars. Thet’s a horse of a dif’rent color.”

“Yer right. Green. Ew! Duck!”

“They’s a duck up there too?”

“No Pal, Burt’s lost his lunch, it’s floatin down.”

“Hay! Aw, horse feathers! Burt’s ruint ma hat!”

“Shake it off, Pal.”

“Hmmff. I blame LeGume.”

“Rise above it Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Curly’s Tale (99)

This pig will fly anytime there’s an opportunity. I squealed with delight when I saw Pepe and Kid prepping the hot air balloon and hopped right in. We floated in the sky while two women floated below in kayaks. One squealed like a piglet, just because a little frog startled her.
I had a bird’s eye view of my cousins at Ghost House Farm, even from way up I could see how happy and healthy they were! I wanted to visit with them but Kid said no way, said bringing me back to the ranch would save my bacon.

Pepe Chimes In (59)

Yes, we tuke de balloon up for de ‘Floating’ prompt, eet seemed feeting, no? Den we found ourselves over a campground. I saw two tents an heard not only my dear Logatha, but her seester too, Cheri D’Shart. Eet was too tense for sure. Dose two, camping together? Ees double troubles. But eet always works out in de end.

Burt the Mail Horse’s Thoughts (9)

Never again, nay, never. Airmail is for the birds.

Kid’s Account (99)

I didn’t know the balloon was gonna drift away from the ranch an towards HQ, but it did. Reckoned I was gonna hear about it from Pal, which made the trip sweeter than cherries because fer a precious few days there warn’t no Pal.
Was glad too ma writer never caught sight a me. Tell ya, she was bout as active as a hunk a driftwood. She musta’ve filled her well, what with all that water she was floatin on.
Thought Shorty was waving up’t us from them remote waters an woods, but she mighta jist been swattin skeeters.

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 8-3-22; Sweet As Cherries

Pit Stops

“Kid! Bout time ya got back ta the ranch!”

“Ya look peeved Pal. Ya gonna ground me? Get it? Grounded? Cause I jist landed in Pepe’s hot air balloon?”

“Kid, thet was one a the most irresponsible things ya’ve done yet.”

“Tough call.”

“Ya left the ranch when ya should a been heppin out. An poor Frankie. She’s been bawlin her eye out worryin an missin Burt. An whatever did ya do with the mail in his mailbag?”

“Airmail! Them letters’ll land close enough fer goverment work.”

“Kid, thet’s it. Yer fired.”

“Sure am. It was a long trip.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Fired! Yer fired Kid.”

“I’m fired up alright Pal. Trip up north was jist what I needed. An Curly too. She an Pepe both met up with kinfolk. Good times.”

“Dang it Kid, I ain’t sure I kin take much more a yer shenanigins. An look up there, ya went through 99 words an didn’t even use the prompt. I oughtta can ya.”

“Canned Kid? Convenient! Like canned cherries.”

“Hmmf. Kid, is thet lipstick on yer pig?”

“No! She’s been eatin fresh Michigan cherries. Here, try some.”

“Sweet! Ow!”

“Mind the pit. Ow!”

“Back at ya, Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Sweet collection.”
“Sure is Kid.”
“I ain’t really fired, am I Pal?”
“Naw Kid, don’t reckon Shorty’d allow thet.”
“I’ll git caught up with ma chores, Pal. But it were sure good ta have a break, it was real refreshin.”
“Refreshin? Ya was with LeGume.”
“Zactly. I was with my good friend. Pepe’s a gas to be with. Ya know, Pal, mebbe you should take a break. Git away fer awhile.”
“Hmmf. A vacation? I ain’t ever, I mean never, gonna vacate this ranch.”
“So take a vacation somewheres remote on the Ranch.”
“Ok. See ya next week, Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 8-10-22; Someplace Remote

Remote Learning

“Pal! Yer back from yer back forty staycation in the restful remote edges a the ranch.”

“Jeez, Kid. Is it remotely possible ya could quit yer yammerin? An whut’re ya doin a-settin here on the bunkhouse veranda with yer feet up? Ya was s’posed ta take care a things whilst I was away. Don’t remotely look like yer workin.”

“But I am workin remotely. Got a Yooper Scooper mounted ta radio-controlled monster trucks, with a go-pro camera strapped ta the handle. Look here, you’ll see how clean the barns are.”

“Why’s thet little bigfoot wearin Shorty’s hat?”

“Oh shift.”

🥕🥕🥕

“My Yooper Pooper Scooper backed Shorty inta a corner an kep pilin it high an deep.”

“Shorty’s done got a PhD. Remotely. We best hose her off Kid.”

“Pfft! Thanks for your help, Pal. Kid, no more automation.”

“Sorry Shorty. That was a shitty thing what happened ta ya.”

“I’ll say. But let’s move on. Pal, how was your staycation? Did you find some beautiful remote spots on the ranch?”

“Closer than ya’d think. Didn’t kayak, didn’t balloon. Floated in a hammock up in the poet tree.

suspend time an space

vast remoteness within reach

when you reach within”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 8-17-22; The Dress Someone Left Behind

A Purty Dress, Well Hung

“Kid, what’s a dress doin at the Saddle Up?”

“Address? The Saddle Up is jist over the line. Whyn’tcha ask Frankie, she’d know.”

“Not an address. A dress. Who’d leave a dress behind?”

“Lemmons Pal.”

“What about lemons? Thet why yer face is all puckered? Don’t be so sour. I jist wanna know bout thet dress.”

“Tip an Top.”

“Yep, Kid, thet dress is in tiptop shape. But who left it?”

“Tip an Top, the Lemmon brothers. They’s the only ones I kin figger’d leave a dress behin. But they always say it’s what’s behin the dress that matters.”

🥕🥕🥕

Remotely Familiar

“‘Spectin company, Kid? They’s a cloud a dust on the herizon, someone’s a-comin down the road.”
“I ain’t ‘spectin anyone. Looks ta be a SUV. What an unusual means a gittin ta the ranch. Usually folks jist pop in. Ugh! The dust! Think they’d slow down.”


“Howdy folks. What’s yer rush? Yer at Carrot Ranch. Slow down an injoy.”
“That’s what we’d like to hurry up and do. Do you mind if we pitch our tents? Maybe have a campfire?”
“Yes, and could we kayak that stream?”
“Sure, it’s all good. I’m Pal, this’s Kid.”
“We’re Helga and Hess.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Helga and Hess, ay? Which one a you’se which? Ya seem a lot a like.”

Heehee Heehee

“Uhoh, Pal, what d’ya s’pose that super- an subscript means?”

“Think it indicates these two each said ‘heehee’ at the ‘zact same time.”

“Oh, gotcha. So Hess an Helga, are ya sisters?

Yes No. No Yes. Heehee Heehee.”
“Hmmf. I’ll let Shorty know yer here. I ‘spect she’d love ta hear a story roun yer campfire.”
(later)
“How them two squirrels doin Kid?”
“They’re chatterin an gigglin with Pepe an Logatha like ol friens.”
“Wait till Shorty gits wind a this development.”

🥕🥕🥕

Side Lines

“Ain’t seen no one kayakin the irrigation ditches lately, Kid. Helga an Hess still aroun?”

“They left.”

“Ever figger out which one’s which?”

“Sure. One prefers Fords, one prefers GM.”

“Which un perfers which?”

“D’oh! Well, still, it proves they ain’t sisters afterall.”

“How’s thet?”

“Cause clearly one weren’t raised right an the other was.”

“Which— oh never mind. They comin back?”

“Reckon we’ll see em agin Pal.”

“Good. Think one of em left a dress.”

“Which one?”

“How would ya know?”

“Good point.”

“Which way’d they head?”

“Def’nitely north. Helga’s got a GSP.”

“Helga?”

“Hess?”

“Aw fric, Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Pal, that dress weren’t Helga or Hess’s. A Lemmon brother come got it.”

“Tip, or Top?”

“Um…  frac, cain’t say fer sure.”

“Kid, I feel bad fer characters like Tip an Top, Helga an Hess… indistinguishable, always spoke of as one an the same…”

 “Mebbe it’s more a sidekick thing, Pal.”

“Sidekick? Like Mini-Me?”

“Or Festus ta Matt Dillon. Pal, I kin think a tons a male sidekick combos, but I’m hard prest ta come up with women pairs.”

“Mebbe cuz sidekicks trail behind, unequal. A frien balances an supports, always at yer side.”

“I kin git behind that.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 8-24-22; Floppy as puppy ears

Pal Afore S’Whine

“Hey Pal.”
“Kid. Reckon this’ll be an easy prompt fer ya.”
“Yeah?”
“Yep, yer likely gonna write bout thet dang hog a yers.”
“Curly?”
“Yep. Yer likely gonna remin folks as how ya was tricked by Slim Chance inta thinkin the piglet hog was a puglet dog, then ya kep her anyway once I convinced ya she was porcine.”
Porcine Pal? Okay.”
“Yer bacon eatin days were done after thet.”
“Yep.”
“An ya took thet puglet ever’where’s, jist like a pup.”
“Don’t fergit her ears, Pal.”
“Thet’s fer you ta write bout Kid.”
“Ya kinda left me speechless Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Hat Is Wear the Home Is

“Hey Kid. Was thet Frankie?”

“Yep, makin her appoin’ned rouns. Hat I ordered’s here. Check it out, Pal. Nice wide brim’ll keep ma delicate features outta the sun.”

“Hmmf. What material’s thet made of?”

“Some sort a felt. Feel it, Pal, it’s soft an floppy as puppy ears. But looky, it’s flexible but tough, kin turn the brim this way an that way. Kin roll the hat up an it’ll keep its shape.”

“Ya mail ordered it ya say?”

“Yep.”

“How’s it fit?”

“Here goes.”

“Yep, plenny a shade.”

“Shift!”

“Mebbe we kin turn it inta a hoop skirt.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Kid goin tentin?”

“Hey Shorty. Thet big top outfit ya see is Kid’s new hat.”

“It’s disarmin. Only knew it was Kid cause I recognized the boots stickin out unnerneath.”

“Think ya jabberjawkeys could hep me outta here?!”

“Shorty, if’n thet’s felt, think it could shrink up?”

“Sure, Pal. That’d be a way ta git this hat ta fit Kid’s head.”

“Hello?! Ahh!! I done flopped over! Pull Pal.”

“There! Yer out from unnerneath thet hat. Hey, where ya goin Kid?”

“Campin.”

“Looks like rain.”

“I’ll be cozy in this oversized hat-bedroll. What could go wrong?”

“Sleep tight Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Kid slep tight alright.

Kid slep out unner the stars, ‘cept they weren’t no stars, cause it rained as perdicted. But thet oversized felt hat Kid was usin as a sleepin bag stayed cozy an warm an Kid jist slep through thet rain storm. Kep on sleepin when the sun rose next mornin an dried thet felt hat completely an a course it shrunk up tight around Kid, an Kid squealed fer Shorty ta hep. So Shorty rounded up Kid’s kid goats an they nibbled on thet hat till Kid was freed.”

“Dang goats et ma jeans too, Pal!”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 8-31-22; Shame

Hangin Out Without Shame

“Pal, I’m worried I won’t come up with a response fer this un.”

“Thet’d be a shame, Kid, but nuthin ta be ashamed of.”

“What if I try somethin an it falls flat?”

“Might be a might awkward, Kid, thet’s all. Reckon this is a tough prompt. Cause there ain’t no shamin at Carrot Ranch.”

“Yer sayin this’s a shameless place?”

“S’pose. Ain’t ta say mistakes ain’t been made.”

“Guilty.”

“Uh-huh. But we’ve all learnt from em. Nuthin ta be ashamed of.”

“So it’s okay that I’m wearin ma chaps but not ma jeans?”

“Em-bare-assed ain’t a-shamed.”

“Cool beans.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Seriously, Pal, this’s a tough prompt.”

“Ain’t’cha got sumthin yer shamed of ta write ‘bout, Kid?”

“If’n I did, d’ya think I would?”

“What’re ya most shamed of Kid?”

“Reckon it’d be if’n I ever shamed anuther. Sometimes we kin say somethin hurtful an not even know we’re doin it. But then that person ain’t gonna say anythin. Cuz their shamed.”

“Be more shameful if ya knew ya were shamin.”

“Some folks do mighty shameful things.”

“Yep. An some folks forgive em anyways. An that’s acknowledgin their mistakes an letting em learn an grow from em. Givin em room.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 8-28-22; Red Convertible Challenge

Hard Night’s Day

“Pal, look’t on the horizon. Rider comin in on a sorrel hoss.”

“Slumped in the saddle, thet rider looks like she’s asleep at the reins.”

“Yep, converted the back a that hoss inta a couch!”

 “Why, Kid, thet’s Shorty a-comin in. Let’s hep her off thet hoss.

“Shorty, wake up, ya made it back ta the ranch.”

“So tired. Coffee?”

“Yeah, Shorty, we’ll get ya some coffee.”

“Bed?”

“No Shorty, ya gotta work.”

“Work?”

“Yep. Ya know, where ya convert yer skills an passions inta pecuniary currency.”

“Currently? What day is it anyway?”

“It’s t’day, Boss. Like no other.”

🥕🥕🥕

Cookin Up Solutions

“Whoa. Stop. Back up. There ain’t nuthin pecuniary at Carrot Ranch literary Community. Nobody has ta pay, Pal.”

“’Less’n they wanna hit thet button.”

“Shorty needs ta git ta Headquarters. Pronto.”

“Yer right Kid. We need Pepe Le Gume an his hot air balloon.”

“Aw, Shorty loves travelin with Pepe!”

“It’s gotta be a red balloon, an the top’s gotta be down.”

“Done an done Pal. I’ll fetch Pepe.”

***

“Uh, Shorty… yer flight’s been delayed.”

“Whut, Kid? Why?”

“Easy Pal. Believe it or not, Pepe is outta gas.”

“Ah shift! Shorty, where ya goin?”

“Cookhouse. Time ta make beans!”

🥕🥕🥕

Shorty’s Jib

“Uh, Shorty? How long since ya slep?”

“What month is it? Everything’s fine Pal.”

“Ya done spilt the beans ya was tryin ta cook up. Now yer slippin an slidin all around the cookhouse an yer laughin souns like Kid’s kid goats.”

“Help me pick up those beans Pal! We need gas for Pepe’s hot air balloon! I need to get back to HQ!”

“Yea… Pepe says he’s all gassed up now, but, uh, there’s some weather comin, so, no go.”

“Wind?”

“Yep.”

“Blowin north?”

“Yep.”

“Kid, I’ll buy that oversized hat of yours.”

“Shorty! It’s not fer sail.”

🥕🥕🥕

Headquartered At Last

So, d’spite Kid’s warnins an worryins, Shorty set sail fer HQ up in the upper Upper Peninsula. She held thet oversized hat thet Kid had picked up a prompt or two ago, and let the unsettled air a the Midwest fill it an take her north at last.

Kid warn’t the only one was worried. Poor ol Frankie kep an eye on the weather the whole time. Fin’ly she an Pepe was able ta git up there in the balloon an come back with a piece a airmail from Shorty. Letter said: ‘All is well.’

You word coun’ers an rule followers’ll note there ain’t a red convertible, an this response’s twice over 99 words, but I reckon Shorty’s soun asleep an won’t even notice, so let’s jist let it go this once.

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 9-07-22; Red Convertible

Hats Off

“Phew! Was so busy back in the comments a this challenge post, a-heppin Shorty git back ta HQ, almost fergot bout the act’chal challenge. D’ya got anythin fer ‘Red Convertible’ Kid?”

“Shorty traded me that sorrel hoss fer that oversized felt hat, so that’ll have ta do.”

“Speakin a red convertibles, I see Mikhail Gorbachev has passed.”

“May he rest.”

“Thet seems so long ago, when he was leader a the Soviet Union. Bringin walls down. Glasnost.”

“Ain’t no dis-putin his impact. But fer ev’ry action there’s a re-action.”

“Ain’t no dis-putin thet, Kid. Best hang onta yer hat.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 9-05-22; Swimmingly Challenge

Try Ta Remember Them Dog Days a September

“Souns like a fine 99-word challenge, ay Kid?”
“Yep. Reckon we’ll see a whole herd a innerestin takes on that prompt, Pal. An, lest ya fergit, this Friday is the other writin challenge. Folks kin come by the Saddle Up Saloon’s Cowsino an try their luck at the story spine slot machine.”
“This Friday?”
“Yep. Member? We welcome folks ta the Cowsino ever first Friday a the month.”
“Kid, last Friday was the second, makin it the first.”
“Shift! So the second Friday will have ta be Cowsino Night.”
“The ninth?”
“Yep. Dang. Things were going so swimmingly, too.”

🥕🥕🥕

S’prise Visit

“Slim Chance! Looks like ya cut the roof off’n yer truck an covered it with barn paint.”
“Carrot Ranchers ain’t the only ones with red convertibles.”
“Have ya no shame, Slim?”
“Sure do, Kid. Thet’s why I’ve come ta make things right with ya. Exchange this puppy fer thet piglet.”
“No way!”
“No? Feel them ears, why they’re soft an floppy as… as…”
“Puppy ears? No matter. I love Curly. Whyn’t ya jist go on back ta some place remote, Slim.”
“I wanna visit, jist fer a day. I’ll be sweet as cherries.”
“This ain’t likely ta go swimminly.”
🥕🥕🥕

Car Pool

“Somethin bout Slim Chance hangin around seems fishy, Kid.”
“Very fishy, Pal. Shorty’s schoolin up; her muse, Mause, is morphin inta a dog-fish, swimmin that inland sea up there; an now that piranha Slim Chance lands on our shores. Yep, smells like fish. Here he is now.”
“Kid, hop inta my convertible, I wanna see the Saloon.”
“Ow! This convertible’s a danger zone! What’d ya cut it with?”
“Chainsaw.”
“I’ll take the hoss, meet ya there.”

“Too bad bout this chance rainstorm, Slim. Have any troubles putting the top up on yer convertible?”
“Top? Things went swimmingly Kid, ducky.”

🥕🥕🥕

Cashin Out

“This’s the Saddle Up, Slim. Most Fridays someone takes the stage, tells us bout writin an sech, ya know, from their perspective.”
“Uh-huh. An what about the Cowsino?”
“That’s open 24/7, with new picture prompts ever first Friday.”
“These look like old picture prompts.”
“Yeah. I fergot. I’ll crank over the slot machine this Friday.”
“Fergot? S’prised thet lead buckaneer don’t fire ya Kid.”
“That’s Buckaroo. An Shorty cain’t fire me on account a she ain’t never hired me.”
“What? All these ranchers— riders, writers, whatever… yer all here jist fer… fer…”
“Carrots.”
“Carrots?”
“Yep. Where ya goin, Slim?”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 9-14-22; Swimmingly

Rockin the Deep End

“Phew! Nuther challenge met an corralled, Kid.”

“Yep.”

“Still wond’rin why thet sidewinder Slim Chance was sidlin up ta the Saddle Up.”

“Say agin?”

“Was like he was spyin.”

“Spyin an tryin previous prompts. But Slim don’t git it, don’t git that the challenge is whatever anyone wants ta make of it, it ain’t no competition or nuthin.”

“Thet’s write. Practice amongst a frien’ly ‘preciative literary community.”

“But Slim says there ain’t no two ways bout it, ya either sink or swim.”

“Thet is two ways. But they’s a third way— float!”

“Yep. Floatin works swimminly fer me, Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Pal, d’ya think mebbe I float too much?”

“What’re ya gittin at Kid?”

“Meanin I’m mebbe more adrift than afloat. Shore feel washed up.”

“So start paddlin, Kid.”

“Feel like I’m jist thrashin aroun. That ain’t the same as makin a splash.”

“Ya ain’t here ta make a splash Kid. But ya done got yer toes in the water. Swim!”

“Cain’t Pal.”

“Whut’s thet Kid?”

“Said I cain’t swim! Never learned.”

“We’ll s’port ya Kid. Oof! Yer heavier then I figgered.”

“Found some shiny rocks. Mebbe I should empty my pockets?”

“Reckon lessons’ll go more swimminly if’n ya do.”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 9-21-22; Balloons On a Bumper

Pickup Lines

“Pal! Throw me a line!”

“Um, okay… Say, what’s a nice Kid like you doin a-settin in a creek like this?”

“Toss a rope Pal! I’m a-settin on the roof of the ranch pickup.”

“I’ll fetch ya ta shore so’s ya kin ‘splain how ya put the truck in the creek.

“Well?”

“Was tryin out a idea is all. Usually we jist ford the creek, but sometimes, like now, it’s too deep. Tied a bunch a balloons ta the bumpers, tried floatin it across. Mebbe I shoulda used more balloons.”

“Shoulda tried this last week, Kid. Woulda gone swimminly.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Ya cain’t leave thet truck in the creek, Kid. Thet’s litterin in a big way.”

“This’s a big time litter-ary community.”

“Speakin a littered air, here’s LeGume.”

“Ello Keed. Pal. I sense trouble, no? ‘ave no fear, Pepe ees here.”

“Reckon ya might hep. Still got thet hot air balloon?”

“Oui, Pal.”

“Plenny a gas? ‘Nough ta pick up thet pickup?”

“Mais bien sûr.”

“Git yer rig ready LeGume. Kid, call Curly an her beaver friens. They kin dive unner an tie ropes from the hot air balloon ta the bumpers. Then up an away. What could go wrong?”

🥕🥕🥕

CRLC 9-28-22; Mud On the Tires

Plenny a Problems With the Prompt

Some ya might recall thet ma last words last week was, “What could go wrong?” Kin tell ya: plenny.

First off, beavers is good at a lot, but not knot tyin, though them knots held fer a bit, longer on the rear a the truck.

Seconly, a hot air balloon ’parently ain’t powerful ‘nough ta lift a ranch truck outta a creek, though it looked promisin fer a bit.

Thirdly, worse’n thet truck stuck ta begin with is thet truck flippin in the air an landin belly up in the creek. Dang tires ain’t got no mud on ‘em!

🥕🥕🥕

“That didn’t go swimminly, Pal.”

“No shift, Kid!”

“Uh-oh, here comes Shorty.”

“Hey Kid. Seen the Ford?”

“Ford’s in the stream.”

“I don’t want to ford the stream. I want the Ford truck.”

“Oh shucks. Um, I’m havin it cleaned?”

“That’s thoughtful, Kid, but unnecessary. I want to go back-roadin, get some mud on the tires.”

“Thought ya was inta kayakin? Mebbe ya wanna go boatin ‘stead a takin the truck.”

“Stop spinning your wheels Kid. Where’s the truck?”

“Long story, Shorty.”

“Think thet story’ll hold water?”

“Shush, Pal.”

“Tell an abridged version.”

“A bridge! Yer truck’s become infras-truck-cher.”

🥕🥕🥕🥕🥕🥕