Ranch Yarns ’17-’19

11.jpgBottoms up! This collection of ranch yarns might only make sense over at Carrot Ranch, if anywhere, but have been corralled here. If chronology is your thing, read from the bottom up for Carrot Ranch history and happenings (since May ’17) To like and comment on this page, scroll way down to the bottom.  


D’sign er Doors

“Kid, ya doin’ vision questin’ like Shorty talks about?”
“That’s a good questin’ Pal, but I ain’t never been much of a planner. Fer me ma visionin’ is ta look out fer jars.”
“Kid, this don’t seem the time or place fer ya ta be talkin’ ‘bout yer love a drink.”
“Not them jars. I’m talkin’ ‘bout keepin’ ma eyes peeled fer doors ‘cause they’re most often ajar, an opportunity fer me ta slip through onta the next thing.”
“Thet doesn’t seem ta be livin’ by design.”
“Sure it is. I’m open to de signs leadin’ ta them doors.”


D’ Spies

“What’s up Pal?”

“Plenty, Kid, an’ I don’t like it. Slim Chance is aroun’, wants ta talk ta Shorty ‘bout a merger, wants ta franchise the Ranch.”

“Ranch french fries? Mmmm.”

“No, Kid, fran-chise, and I’d bet that little French friend a yers has somethin’ ta do with this.”

“Pepe LeGume? Why d’ya think that?”

“’Cause somethin’ ‘bout this stinks.”

“Pepe an’ I’s way ahead a ya Pal. We’re suspicious a Slim Chance too, so Pepe’s with him, ‘cept Pepe’s bolo tie is really a mic.”

“Spies! But ok, let’s listen… what? Thet thunder?”

“Uh-oh. Think Pepe’s mic dropped.”


No Phony

“Kid, Pal. You wanna spill the beans as to what’s going on? Ain’t never seen you two wearing headphones afore.”

“Pepe’s wired, Shorty.”

“Yeah, he’s a hyper little fella alright.”

“No, he’s wearing a mic. We’re collecting intelligence.”

“Ha! Fat chance a that!”

“No, Slim Chance. We’re worried ‘bout his plans fer the Ranch.”

“Ah, you two, d‘ya really think I’m shortsighted? This’s my ranch. An’ while I’m happy to share with the ranch hands, I wouldn’t ever sell out. Got my own plans.”

“Shoulda realized thet. Sorry Shorty.”

“Yep, sorry Boss. Hey look’t the evenin’ sky. Emergin’ stars!”


Gnome On the Range

“Gee, Pal, why’s Shorty havin’ folks write about biology, you know, genetics an’ such? Or is genes the genre this time aroun’?”

“What?! Kid, ya might wanna check yer own pool. What crazy notions ya on about now?”

“Genes Pal. Genetics? Shorty wants us ta write about genomes this week.”

“Kid, it’s gnomes. Those little folk that live underground and guard the Earth’s treasures.”

“Oh. Huh. Pal, is Shorty a gnome? ‘Cause carrots are unnerground treasures. An’ while World Headquarters ain’t unnerground, it’s gonna be unnerneath all thet snow.”

“Shorty ain’t a gnome.”

“Mebbe Shorty’s her gnom de plume.”


Color’s the Key Ta the Kingdom

“Kid, we’re not gittin’ writ this time aroun’. D.Avery’s done painted hersef inta a corner procrastinatin’ work deadlines.”
“She’s busy workin’ jist now?”
“Huh. I’ll have ta step up, though I prefer shovelin’ cow pies ta key lime.

Once upon a time it was a dark and stormy night. The evil king had outlawed pies, except for apple pie made with Northern Spy apples and white flour.
Meanwhile, deep in the forest and far from the swamp, the Key Lime Princess practiced civil disobedience, producing her green pies as peaceful as you please. And carrot cake. The end.


No Contest

“Ya ever won anythin’ Pal?”
“Me neither. But this outfit here says I might be a winner. Fer a small fee they’ll let me know fer sure.”
“What outfit is thet, Kid?”
“The Slim Chance Ranch. Says here they’d be willin’ ta let me ride with ‘em. Fer a small fee.”
“Kid, why would ya even consider it?”
“Says here it’s a good deal, might even increase ma chances of winnin’.”
“What the deuces d’ya win?”
“Says here I could win the chance ta ride with Slim.”
“Slim chance.”
“Yeah, yer right, Pal. I never win nuthin’ no-how.”
“Shorty’s sure busy, huh Kid?”
“So you jist shush up ‘bout yer foolish notions. Shorty’s got enough ta do without worryin’ ‘bout you takin’ off fer Slim Chance Ranch.”
“Kin go if I want, Pal. Might win, ya know.”
“If’n yer so het up on winnin’ why didn’tcha enner the rodeo contest here at Carrot Ranch?”
“B’cause why, Kid?”
“B’cause I never win nuthin’.”
“Cain’t never neither without ennerin’.”
“Asides, Pal, them writers that won? They’re great.”
“You grate on my nerves Kid. Ever one thet ennered is great.”
“Yer right. Carrot Ranch is a great place.”



“Kid. Where’d ya end up this past week?”
“Would ya believe I walked aroun’ the world seven times over?”
“I’d say yer spinnin’ a tale..”
“Well I did. Walked the same ol’ paths in new ways an’ ended up where I began.”
“Were ya lookin’ fer love?”
“Nope. But I’m lovin’ life, Pal. An’ it’s lovin’ me back.”
“Found treasure Pal.”
“Right where it’s been all along.”
“Kid, yer talkin’ in circles.”
“Yep, I circled back. An’ here I am. Rich in priceless treasures.”
“What baubles are yew babblin’ ‘bout, Kid?”
“Precious gems, Pal, measured in carrots!”



“Pal! You’re back.”

“Hey Shorty. Yep, I jist had ta give Kid the runaroun’. Trust me, ya don’t want Kid aroun’ this week. I took an earful a whinin’ ‘bout the prompt. Then I had ta hear Kid’s wild ideas fer the prompt. Sent Kid packin’ till this ‘un’s done with.”

“Why? It’s all good when it’s all write.”

“Weren’t all good Shorty. Kid got ideas fer somethin’ called Carrot Raunch. In thet genre ya’d be writin’ Miracle of F—“


“I steered Kid clear a the bookshelves. Not sure the Ranger’d appreciate Kid’s retitlin’ ideas.”

“Thanks Pal.”


Accentuated Absence


“Deep in thought, Aussie?”

“Oh, g’day Ranger. I was just thinking it’s too bad Kid and Pal have ridden off. They should be here for this yarn.”

“What’s so special about this yarn?”

“This yarn is #198. That’s 99 x 2!”

“That’s a lot of yarn. We should make jumpers.”

“Don’t be a knit wit. What if those two are jumping ship?”

“Pal and Kid? Crazy. Who else would have them? Besides, they don’t always love the prompts, but they love it here. They’ll be back.”

“I’m not taking any chances.”

“What are you doing Aussie?”

“Cooking bacon!”


Deep Sheep

“’Ello, Buckaroo. Love ees in da air, no?”

“Pepe LeGume. Something’s in the air alright. J. Geils sang that love stinks. Might be right. Seen Pal or Kid?”

“You ask, I tell. Day did not like da prompt. One rode east, da odder west. I teenk day odd ta’ve gone nort an’ sout, as day are one an’ da same bipolar.”

“Didn’t like the prompt?”

“Genre-ly speaking, no. Day rode off. But not eento da sunset.”

“So no whining from Kid?”

“No, but whine cood be romantic, no?”

“You’re just passing through, right?”

“Like a sheep in da night.”


Shifty Premise

“Seems ta me a premise is like a promise. Givin’ lip service ta bein’ somewhere, but not accountin’ fer how ta git there, how ta plot the course, like.”

“Aw, jeez. Seems ta me Kid, yer too het up ‘bout all this.”

“Dang it, Pal, I’m disoriented. Confused. I jist git plopped inta these conversations with you ever’ week, but how did I get here? Why am I here? I’m a character with no story.”

“Kid, mebbe yer bein’ here’s why you don’t need a story. Ya’ve arrived.”

“But fer what purpose?”

“Here’s a shovel, Kid. Draw a conclusion.”


The Plop Thickens

“Yer lookin’ grumpy, Kid. What’s the story?”

“Pal, there ain’t no story. Dang D.Avery jist plopped us onta the ranch where we jist plod along week after week. We’re jist a plotless premise. Thinkin’ we should git us a better writer.”

“So yer schemin’ ta git a plotter ‘stead of a plodder?”

“Yep. Nuthin’ ever happins ta us; we’re jist a collection a what’s with no why’s.”

“Ya wanna have problems? Go inta a cave?”


“Kid, ya might not think it’s enough action, but yer fittin’ the prompt.”

“How’s that?”

“Yer an extra pane in the glass.”




“Hey Kid.”

“Hey Pal.”

“Got anything?”

“Ya mean fer the prompt?”




“This’s a tough one, Pal, talkin ‘bout water. I’m comin’ up dry.”

“Kid, yer all wet. It ain’t ‘bout talkin’ ‘bout water. More ‘bout listenin’ ta water. Lookit Shorty there, walkin’ the talk.”

“Yeah, Shorty’s walkin’ tall. Thet’s somethin’, the leader of Buckaroo Nation carryin’ on with the Anishinaabe.”

“Yep, carryin’ Nibi. Shorty took her chuck wagon on the road an’ ended up bein’ a Water Walker.”

“Oo-waa! It’s good work. Was that sacred water Pal?”

“Course, Kid. All water is sacred; water is life.”


Erring Ideas

“Day of the Dead, huh? Is’at ‘cause the excitement from the rodeo’s dyin’ down?”

“It’s gonna git pretty lively at World Headquarters, Kid. Now comes the judgin’.”

“Whooee, that’s right. Mebbe Pepe can help. He’s headed up there ta World Head Quarters now.”

“What? Kid, why’n tarnation is LeGume goin’ ta HQ?”

“It’s a place a higher learnin’. Pepe wants ta air some ideas.”

“Kid, Shorty’s got enough on her plate, she don’t need this character around. The quality a his ideas is questionable. An’ now the Keweenaw’s air quality’ll be questionable too.”

“She’s the one platin’ beans Pal.”


“Pepe’s figgers there’ll be bio-engineerin’ eggsberts aroun’ them universities. Wants ta see ‘bout crossin’ a ostrich with a chicken; git big eggs ever’ day, good fer cookin’ fer crowds.”

“Why not an emu?”

“Hey Aussie! He who?”


“Bless you.”

“Kid, an emu is Australia’s big bird. Cross an emu with a chicken.”

“An’ with a cow, call it a emoo. An’ while we’re down there we kin cross a pig with a platypus. Eggs an’ bacon in one go.”

“Oh, Kid, and a kangaroo. They can deliver the eggs in their pouch.”

“Et tu, Aussie? Yer killin’ me.”


Tricky Treaters

“Phew, Pal. Another Rodeo. That last event was sure a TUFF contest.”

“Yep, Kid. So ya know, I’ll be glad ta see a TOFU challenge—The Old Fashioned Un-judged challenge. Speakin’ a tofu, where’s LeGume at?”

“He an’ Ernie’s gittin’ ready fer Halloween.”

“Ugh. D’ya reckon kids’ll come by the ranch?”

“Gotta be ready, Pal. Ernie’ll have candy corn. Pepe’s servin’ jelly beans. What’s yer candy a choice, Pal?”

“Reckon it’d be lemon sours.”

“Figgers. You ain’t the jolliest a ranchers. What’s Shorty offerin’?”


“Rock candy?”

“Jist sweet rocks.”

“Tricky. M’self? I’ll be dishin’ leftover beans– repeatin’ re-treats.”


Rodeo #IV TUFF Beans 


“Ello, Keed, how have you bean?”

“Pepe LeGume! It’s tuff times, but I’m all right. You?”

“I am so very happy, Keed. You see dat post? No, not dat fence post, de post dat ever body read. I am mentioned in eet. So. I am real, no?”

“Reckon ya could pass fer real.”

“Keed, I been passed so much. Now I find dees ranch, I jes’ want to linger here and smell de roses.”

“Phew. I think ya dropped a rose.”

“Keed, I am going to cook beans for ever’body. Weeth bacon.”

“Fer real?”

“How you say? Darn tooting.”


“Pepe, this might be a tuff question fer ya. How’d ya end up here at the ranch?”

“Keed, I am from south of the border, that ees, da border of Quebec. I snuck in weeth dat lead buckaroo when she crossed Quebec and Ontario returning to her headquarters in the Keweenaw.”

“LeGume! Yer a bean stalker!”

“Ees magical, no?”


Legume blew in after the Writers Refuge, lingers still.


“Keed, beans are magical. Not dem magic beans of Jaque, and not jez because dey are da magical fruit dat’s good for da heart; eet’s something more.

Dey are magic like all plants; dat bean plant eet unfold from da hard bean; eet stretch, eet grow, eet flower, eet make more beans. Ees beauty, no?

An’ peoples all aroun’ da world make beans, Keed, each in deir way. When dese peoples share deir beans dey share da magic of deir traditions. Dey eat beans together an’ share stories, Keed.”

“Thinkin’ you jist slipped a story, Pepe.”

“Ah, yes, excusez-moi.”


Deep Shift 

“Keed. ’Ello. You are awake now, no? After your deep sleep?”

“Pepe LeGume! Yep. Had m’sef a fine nap. I’m all refreshed; an’ I thunk up a real good idea whilst sleepin’ unner my Think Tank.”

“Oh ho, deed you dream a scheme, Keed?”

“Indeed I did, Pepe. Could say you inspired ma latest idea.”

“What eez eet, Keed?”

“Lotsa folks aroun’ here write an’ git books t’gether. But I’m gonna write biographies.”

“But Keed, lotsa people write biogaphies. What makes your idea so special?”

“Mine’s gonna be scratch’n’sniff biographies! You smellin’ what I’m steppin’ in?”

“Eez deep, Keed.”


Ornery Ernie’s Story

“Ernie? What’s goin’ on? Where’s ever’one at?”

“Kid, you been sleepin’ so long, tucked unnerneath yer think tank, Pal thought ya was missin’. But now they’ve gone back ta storyin’.”

“What’s yer story, Ernie?”

“All I know is they’s two sides at least ta ever’ story. I ‘spect most folks took Wanda’s side when she left me.”

“What was she like?”

“Like yer most comfortable pair a boots somehow always endin’ up on the wrong feet.”

“Ya miss her?”

“Yep. Like a headache when it stops hurtin’. Had ta let ‘er go, Kid. The hills could never hold her.”


“Where’d Wanda go?”

“Winter times she’d git so cold, but she’d git that Glenwood parlor stove fired up, git it running at top speed. Thing looked like a rocket anyway, an’ she’d git it red hot, even its feet, lookin’ like thrusters. Lookin’ in from outside it looked like she had the moon, glowin’ bright, caught there in the cabin. That stove’d be whistlin’ an’ rattlin’ with the heat, I’d be skeered it was gonna bust apart, catch the whole dang place on fire. She’d jist laugh. She’d say, ‘take me ta the moon’. Reckon that’s where she’s went.”


Working It,      by Pal N. O’Round

It was mighty quiet aroun’ the ranch. Somethin’ or someone was amiss. Mebbe thet greenhorn finally give up an’ went away. I leaned aginst the poet tree an’ thought the quiet was bliss.

But Shorty ordered a search fer the Kid, aginst my bitter judgement. Dang Kid always got inta fixes an’ brought trouble. Kid could sure shovel shit but could sure step in it too.

Like thet so-called think tank Kid thunk up. Jist thinkin’ ta git outta chores. But Shorty’s boss, so I plunked down on the overturned stock tank an’ thunk on where Kid might be.


So I set a’thinkin’ on thet overturned stock tank thet Kid had drug outta the corral, thinkin’ thet if Kid’s Think Tank was runnin’ I could jist ask ‘where would Kid go?’.

I set and thunk till a bunch a ranch hands showed up. Ranger had searched high an’ Aussie had searched low, but no sign a the Kid. The Poet Lariat wundered, in seventeen syllables, ‘bout the sound a one Kid nappin’. I still wundered if a Kid leaves a ranch an’ we no longer have ta hear it whine, who cares?

But Shorty cared.

We kep lookin’.


Kid wasn’t up ta Ornery Ernie’s. Wasn’t cookin’ up trouble with Pepe LeGume. More ranch hands, the wild and the mild, showed up ta hep in the search. It was a worldwide Kid-hunt. Aussie thought ta cart fresh cooked bacon aroun’ ta try an’ bait the Kid. Still nuthin’. No one had seen the Kid. The Poet Lariat told us all ta jist shush. We shushed. Then we heard it. Snores from under the overturned stock tank. The sound a one Kid napping. Thet dang think tank musta fell over with Kid in it.

Shorty said, “May Kid rest.”


We lifted the tank real careful, let Kid rest. All thet thinkin’ ‘bout thinkin’ musta been tirin’. Shorty seemed mighty relieved thet the Kid hadn’t retired from Ranchin’, hadn’t gone back east.

But Kid is troublesome. I tried talkin’ ta Shorty ‘bout thet, asked her if havin’ Kid aroun’ was sech a good idea. But Shorty jist said she reckoned thet my prime responsibility on the ranch was ta keep Kid outta trouble. An’she admitted thet what some folks’d been thinkin’ was snuffling cattle an’ whinnyin’ hosses was really her. Snort laughin’.

An’ thet’s Kid’s main job aroun’ here.


I thunk ta thank ever’one fer heppin’ find the Kid who’d gone a’missin’. Shorty jist said:

Takes a village, Pal

Another day at the ranch

All hands heppin’ out

 Shorty said ta git back rodeoin’, let the Kid rest.

Wild rollicking ro-

de-o Third act’s a sleeper

Sandman kicks up dust

Found one kid napping

Hollering and stamping hooves

Drowning out Kid’s snores

Best ta let sleepin’ Kids lie.

‘Cuz Kids git tired now and zen

Mebbe it’s from leanin’ ‘ginst thet poet tree, but dang if I didn’t buckaroo-ku too:

Takin’ stock

Thinkin’ what matters

Tanks ta Kid.


Rodeo #III; Three-Act Story

“Hey, Pal. What’s the story?”

“Same ol’, Kid. Jist ridin’ the range, livin’ the dream.”

“I’m real glad we got dreamed up Pal. Makes us someone. Reckon the story’s ‘bout us?”

“Hmmf. Kid, it ain’t about you. ‘Sides, a story has ta evoke empathy, carin’. All I care ‘bout is you gittin’ yer chores done.”

“I pity ya Pal. Ya got imagined but ya lack imagination. I fear yer the most borin’ person I know. Well here’s a story. I ain’t gonna do my chores. Ain’t shovelin’ shift today. Gonna write a story instead.”

“Hmmf. Thet’s shovelin’ shift, Kid.”


A BOTS,    by A. Kidd

Once upon a dark and stormy night in the far east a kid was flounderin’, directionless. Was the kid’s story headed south? The kid had a wild dream ‘bout headin’ west. Courage packed, fears stowed, the kid caught a westbound train, which oddly enough was on track with the kid’s north star.

The kid landed out west, an’ got taken in at a ranch, despite bein’ greener’n frog snot on a lily pad. A cantankerous ranch hand called Pal showed the kid the ropes. An’ Pal was saddled with the kid fer ever after.


Rodeo #II; Pro-Bull Mashup

Foul Pay

“Pal, I won us tickets ta see the bull ridin’. Nose bender seats.”

“D’ya mean nose-bleed?”

“Nose bender. From pressin up against the fence an’ peerin’ through the knothole. Guy said ringside seats is sold out, this is such a bodacious event.”

“Sold out? This rodeo don’t charge.”

“The guy said we had to pay, Pal, but said I could git these seats if the price was right. I answered some ranch trivia questions an’ I won!”

“Nanjo Castille! This ain’t trivial, he’s a pirate! This could lead ta heartbreak, Kid. Where’s he at?”

“Sleepin’ off Ernie’s ‘lixir.”



Reality Show

“Kid, stop poutin’ up in thet poet tree. What’s wrong?”

“Reckon yawl should jist vote me off the Ranch. I feel awful fer indangerin’ ever’one. Agin. I’m heartbroke.”

“Kid, don’t git yer nose bent outta joint. Nanjo’s gone. Some bodacious city slicker name of Rudy come by an took ‘im east.”

“Ta the Big House?”

“I heard White House. They’ve got friends there.”

“Hmm. I’m russian ta conclusions now.”

“Right? But where else kin a corrupt pirate like Nanjo be tried by a jury of his peers? The $64,000,000 question is, kin we vote thet gang off the Island?”


Rodeo Flyer

“Pal! Shorty put up a flier fer my Think Tank. Ah’m in business!”

“Some business. Asettin’ in a gol dang stock tank! Yer gonna tank, all right. Seems like a poor investmint, payin’ fer yer thoughts.”

“That’s what you think.”

“I think ya oughta git outta thet tank and inta a barrel. The Pro-Bull Mashup starts tomorrow. Yer clownin’ aroun’ could be useful in the ring.”

“Ha! No way, Pal.”

“Well whut about yer reglar chores?”

“Ya mean shovelin’ shift?”

“Go with yer strengths Kid.”

“I am, Pal! I’ll be shovelin’ it, quipply.”

“Hmmff. It’s all jist punnin’ games.”


Kid’s KEVA; 99 Pennies Fer Thunks

“Kid. What’re ya doin’ asettin’ in thet upended stock tank?”

“I decided ta set up shop fer the rodeo crowds. This here’s my think tank. Folks’ll pay me fer my thoughts.”

“I don’t think much a this idea, Kid. Didja clear it with Shorty?”

“What do you think?”

“Thinkin’ not. So how’s yer gig work?”

“Easy. Ask me a question, I give ya the Kid’s Eye View Answer.”

“In 99 words?”

“Naw, jist somethin’ quippy. But if’n someone was ta request a 99 word tale fer themsefs an’ were ta donate via Shorty’s paypal button…”

“Huh. Who’da thunk it.”


Rodeo # I; Modern Tall Tale

“Hard ta tell a tall tale from fact these days Kid, ‘cause fact is there’s some shift goin’ on ya jist cain’t make up.”

“Yep. Pal, tell the one ‘bout the guy who denied global warmin’, claimed it was all a part a his plan.”

“Called it coastal improvement, got folks in South Dakota ta invest in waterfront property. Water kep risin’ an’ when them extreme cold snaps a winter came it all turned ta ice. Whole country, iced over. Guy said it was all part a his plan, an’ he sold hats. Hats said, ‘Make America skate again’.”


Rodeo Shift

“What’sa matter, Kid?”

“Dang it all, Pal, I jist wanted the rodeo ta be somethin’ ‘memberable. But Pepe’s smellavision never caught air. An’ now Ernie an’ Pepe’s laid up so there won’t be any food concessions. Feelin’ bad, Pal. Wish some a these wild ideas could be unremembered. That bean cloud jeopardized the Ranch’s safety.”

“Calm yersef Kid. The Ranch was never in danger. Carrot Ranch’s always a safe place.”

“Even durin’ the rodeo?”

“Yep. Gotta play ta win, but yer a winner fer playin’.”

“I still wanna hep out.”

“See thet shovel?”


“Jist do yer shift, Kid.”


How Now, Brown Clowd, by A. Kidd

Pal helped Ernie and Pepe git back ta the Ranch. They was ok, as Shorty predicted, but Pepe LeGume, all facial hair burned away from the blast, yep, even his eyebrows, looked jist like a bean. An’ ol’ ornery Ernie also got blasted with jist a few thin strands a hair like corn silk left on his head.

As fer the brown cloud, well, the gales of November came early, blew that thing clean over the Ranch. It finally stalled right over the White House in Washington D.C., where it remains, its stink unnoticed amongst the existing swampy smells.


Gonna Be All Write

“Shorty!!!! Shorty, we gotta bad situation. There was a bean explosion. Do you have a hazmat team? An EMT squad?”

“Kid, Pal. Breathe.”

“No way. It stinks!”

“Okay, but remain calm. Safety first. Pal, ride up and see that Ernie and Pepe are okay. Of course they will be because they are fictional characters and this is a safe place.”

“What about me, Shorty?”

“Kid, get out your quill.”

“Am I gonna fan the cloud away?”

“That’s up to you. You’ll have to write it away. We cain’t have that dark cloud over the ranch. The rodeo is comin’!”


Le Boom!

“Told ya Kid, so you kin go tell LeGume he an’ his smellavision ain’t needed.”

“Hmmf. Anyways Pepe is busy on another project now. He an’ Ernie’s workin’ out a bean based beverage.”

“Jeez. Why?”

“Growin’ beans is better fer the soil than corn fer one.”

“Valid. But ya mean ta tell me they’s up there distillin’ beans?”

“Yep. Ain’t that a gas?”

“Gotta bad feelin’ ‘bout this.”

“Come on Pal, what could go wrong? Hey! What was that? It weren’t thunder!”

“An explosion! Look’t thet cloud spreadin’ over from Ernie’s hill.”

“Eww, I kin smell it from here.”


If Not You, Who Will Pay, Pal?

“The rodeo is big, Pal. Gotta think big.”

“Thinkin’ you oughtta slow down, Kid, run yer ideas by Shorty.”

“Shorty’s busy, she’ll be happy I’m heppin’ out. Wait till she finds out Pepe LeGume’s gonna broadcast the events, gonna make it so the folks at home’ll feel like they’s right here at the ranch.”

“Really? How’s thet?”

“Pepe’s workin’ on smellavision. It’ll record the sights, sounds and smells a the rodeo!”

“Bull shift!”

“Zactly, Pal. An’ hoss shift, an’- ”

“What stinks is this so-called smellavision. LeGume chargin’ fer it?”

“About that… Was wonderin’ if ya’d hep pay, Pal.”


Vendor Sender

“Pal, where’s Shorty?”

“What’re ya up ta, Kid?”

“Circlin’ the chuckwagons fer the rodeo. I already talked ta a couple a folks who’s willin’ ta set up shop an’ feed the contestants an’ spectators.”


“Well, Pepe LeGume’s gonna serve up his world famous beans with sourdough tortillas fer one. An’ ol’ ornery Ernie’s gonna come down outta the hills an’ serve his liquid corn.

“Thinkin’ this ain’t a good idea, Kid.”

“What could go wrong? These products’ll provide the courage ta do what’s gotta git done. An’ I’m gonna serve carrot sticks.”

“Well thet’s good.”

“Wrapped in bacon!”


Lead Out

“Shorty, when ranch hands go where the prompt leads, does that mean they’s trackin’ it down nose ta trail?”

“Sometimes, Kid. Some sniff out their story like a hound-dog. Some bird-dog the tall grass ta flush their story. Some ranch hands see thet prompt, jist throw their lasso, git dragged along till they kin wrangle their story and git it tied down.”

“Sounds dangerous.”

“It kin be a wild ride, Kid, but no one gits hurt at Carrot Ranch. Wranglin’ words is a entertainin’ way ta build writin’ muscle. Next month folks’ll flex that muscle at the rodeo.”



An’ a One, An’ a Two…

“Where ya goin’ Kid?”

“It’s intermission. Goin’ ta the outhouse.”

“Intermission? No, the prompt is interlude.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Well, if’n we’re talkin’ ‘bout a break in the show, interlude implies more of a performance, music mebbe.”

“Oh. Yep, I kin do that.”

“Well hurry up Kid, we got things ta do.”

“Like what?”

“Carrot Ranch’s hostin’ its third Rodeo, comin’ soon. October. Gonna be busy aroun’ here. We have ta make sure they’s plenty a hay fer the hosses an’ carrots fer the contestants. Shorty cain’t do it all.”

“Cain’t she?”

“Ha! If anyone can it’d be Shorty.

# 177

Great White Elephant Gift

“Whoa, Pal. Stop. Back up. This ranch’s a in-ter-nation-al literary community, right?”


“Kin we jist talk ‘bout the elefint in the room?”

“What elefint? What room? Kid, we’s outside.”

“Good. More room fer elefints. Been thinkin’. Fer the ranch ta be a cosmopolitan, inclusive community, we should have critters from aroun’ the world. Thinkin’ elefints would be real useful fer the ranch too. Kin do way more’n hosses.”

“Shorty’s partial ta hosses.”

“Elefints kin lift stuff. Load their own wagons. Pull bigger loads.”

“Drop bigger loads too, Kid. How big’s yer shovel?”

“Ah shift. Never mind ‘bout elefints.”


Slingin’ Words Fer People

“Pal, is’t true this Ranch’s a literary community?”

“Reckon so, Kid. Open ta one an’ all.”

“So is it a gated community?”

“Heck no. No gates, no borders. Free range writin’ fer anyone who wants ta play. Long’s they play nice a course.”

“Are there boundaries?”

“Jist in the word count, 99, no more, no less. Otherwise, it’s a place fer boundless imagination.”

“Why’s it always me gits imagined shovelin’ out the barn?”

“Shovelin’ shit’s yer special gift Kid. Yer real good at slingin’ it.”

“Yeah well, someone should imagine Shorty slingin’ bacon.”

“Tough shit, Kid. She’s slingin’ carrots.”


Adding Up

“Kid, how’d ya bruise yer hand?”

“Horse Pepe was gonna give me dang up an’ bit me. All I did was go ta look in its mouth.”

“Reckon, ya shoulda seen that comin’, Kid. Thet yer writin’ hand? Shorty’s prompt is out.”

“Yeah, I seen it. From grit ta grift. Figgers. Was thinkin’ ta write a western ‘bout a guy who cons fellow passengers in flight, gonna call it High Planes Grifter.”

“No, Kid, not grift. Gift. What’s the greatest gift?”

“Oh… shift if I know Pal. Reckon it’s bein’ able ta count all the small gifts, ever’ day.”


Up An’ At ‘Em

“Up an’ at ‘em Kid. Time ta ride.”


“Yep, agin. Let’s go.”

“I need sustenance. Shorty servin’ breakfast?”


“Ugh. You’ve groat ta be kidding. I need food that’ll give me the strength ta do what’s gotta git done. By the way Pal, what needs ta git done?”

“Dang, Kid, why’m I always havin’ ta wrangle you? Ya need goals fer yersef.”

“My goal is ta have breakfast.”

“Ya need a big goal.”

“A big breakfast then. With bacon.”

“What’s yer long term goal?”

“Ta eat fer a long time. Ya might wanna git started without me, Pal.”


Carrot Tanka

“It ain’t fair, Pal. I know they’ve gotta git harvested an’ all, but why me?”

“Shorty needs ya ta pull yer weight by pullin’carrots, thet’s why.”

“I pull my weight aroun’ here.”

“Well yer weight done broke a branch on the Poet-Tree, so I’m thinkin’ you bendin’ over in the carrot patch’ll be a good thing. Jist make the most of it, Kid.”


harvest of wisdom

raw carrots! crunchy gritty

sun hued skin, earth rimed

grounded orange, airy greens

dark and light are known to you”

“Kid, how’s it goin’? Pal was concerned.”

“Pickin’ away Shorty, no complaints.”


Poet –Tree Place 

“Ever’thin’ ok up there, Kid?”

“Yep. Jist thinkin’, Pal. Thinkin’ on how ya said ya ain’t from anywheres but right here at the Ranch. Thinkin’ I cain’t figger if yer a part a this place, or if this place is a part a you.”

“I reckon places beget the folks thet live in ‘em. Mold’em. Shape ‘em.”

“Do places tell stories or is it the people?”

“Reckon it’s both, Kid. But folks has ta work harder at listenin’. Git thet figgered out, places jist sing with stories.”

“And buckaroo-ku:

pulse of time and space

immeasurable songlines

Earth’s stardust stories ”


“Eh; don’t give up yer day job Kid. Come down outta thet tree and git ta yer chores.”

“Okay, Pal.”

“Careful now, be safe. Break ‘er branches on thet tree an’ Shorty’ll be upset. Yer climbin’s gittin’ better. Who taught ya?”

“Jist practice. Who taught you ‘bout ranchin’ Pal?”

“Reckon if a character gits made up fer a ranch thet character knows ranchin’. Who taught ya ta buckaroo-ku?”

“Learnin’ as I go. Jist tryin’ to find my way, mappin’ the wide open spaces of the ranch with words.”

“Reckon words make space a place.”

“Yep. 99 at a time.”


A Call Fer Art

“Pal, where yer folks hail from?”
“Hail if I know, Kid. I jist got made up right here at this ranch.”
“But the real folks that come through here, they’s from all over the world!”
“Thet’s right, Kid.”
“I been thinkin’ on Pepe Le’Gume’s idea fer a Buckaroo Nation totem pole. It’s a great idea, if’n we had artists ta make it take shape. A carvin’ ta honor all a us.”
“Reckon the first thing would be ta have folks jist tell what symbolizes their home place.”
“Prob’ly a beaver fer our Vermonter.”
“Thet’s one critter. Speak up, ya’ll.”



“Put the pen down Kid, an’ no one gits hurt.”

“Dang it, Pal, if You Know Who is too jammed fer time ta write fer the ranch, then I’ll do it.

*Sitting on a log, Bigfoot idly recovered massive amounts of toe jam...*”

“No! Jeez, Kid!”

“What? Should it be ‘idylly’? Idyllically?”

“Ideally there’s no toe jam. Folks don’t wanna read about sech things.”

“Ok, ok.

Deep in the great north woods in the southwest corner of the northeast kingdom was a well-kept secret; Bigfoot was having a party, a musical jam fest! But when it was his turn to perform, his big hairy knees turned to jelly. Bigfoot was in a jam but his friends helped out. Frog laid down a bass line, Woodpecker tapped a rhythm, geese comprised a horn section.               Finally Bigfoot joined his voice “I get by with a little help from my friends…”                                  

“Thet’s some better. A might fanciful, but they’s a ring a truth ta it, somehow.”

“Shush ‘bout that, it’s a well-kept secret. There’s more:

Bigfoot got into the music, toe tappin’ then dancin’. Then he slipped on account a toe jam, got a big booboo.

“Kid, you ain’t right.”


#169 (x3)


“Pal, is ol’ Ornery Ernie still aroun’?”

“Yep, but with all these new folks at the Ranch, Ornery’s been feelin’ crowded, moved further up the creek.”

“Sounds like a sour apple.”

“Mebbe, Kid, but Ornery ain’t never been mean ta no one. Jist feels like people is poison. Tends ta be over cautious.”

“Ornery oughtta try writin’ it out. Flash his feelin’s.”

“His art runs a diff’rent way. Says they’s plenty a rotten people but ain’t no bad apples. Gathers up apples like Shorty gathers stories. Makes cider.”

“Cider? Does Shorty know?”

“About Ornery Ernie’s elixir? Yes, Shorty knows.”


“So somewhere’s along the way life gave ol’ Ornery lemons an’ he now makes apple cider. But Pal, don’t Ornery know it ain’t all folks that’s bad? That it’s good safe folks at the Ranch?”

“Reckon he does an’ reckon he’s a might shy. He’ll git tamed in his own time. Ya know Shorty feeds ‘im now and agin, tells him stories. But we have ta accept if he’d ruther live off on his own, keep his stories to his self.”

“Like a hermit in a cave.”

“Yep, but he does make some fine elixir in them thar hills.”


“Hey Pal, where’s Kid?”

“Hey Shorty. Kid got all contemplative, climbed the poet tree.”

“Ernie’s got the hills, Kid’s got that tree. What about you, Pal?”

“I git on my horse and ride this great wide ranch.”

“You ride, I write. Well, let’s hope Kid’s climbin’ and contemplatin’ work out.”

“I hear you! Hear this:

up a creek

poisoned by people

thirsty still


Oooohhhh! Look out! Ow…”

“Yer outta yer tree, Kid.”

“Got. More:

far fallen

rotten cores within

polished skins

hollow wormy lies

elixir salty

tears stream from our eyes”


“Dust off, Kid. It’s gonna be all right.” 


Word Up                

“Kid, is thet Le’Gume character still around?”

“Reckon. Carrot Ranch’s a hard place to leave. Pal, are you still worried Pepe is a bad apple?”

“Naw, s’pose not, though he does have some noxious qualities, if ya know what I mean.”

“Yep, I smell what yer steppin’ in, if ya know what I mean. Hey Pal? Ya ever worry that folks don’t know what ya mean?”

“Well, Kid, word is, speakin’ is a big responsibility. Was much simpler when we jist used sticks an’ stones. If ya know what I mean.”

“Mean words could git us back ta that.”


Ever Green

“It’s kinda excitin’ ain’t it, Kid?”

“What’s that, Pal?”

“Ain’t you noticed? They’s bin all kinds a new folks comin’ through the Ranch, tryin’ their hand at 99 word wranglin’.”

“Yeah, but-”

“But whut? Don’t start yer whinin’. It’s a good thing ta see the Ranch growin’ an’ gittin’ more stories roun’ the fire.”

“Yeah, but… what if… well, crowds cain’t never be good. Stampedes an’ such.”

“Whut?! Yer askeered the Ranch hands is gonna stampede? Whut’s really botherin’ ya, Kid?”

“Well, lotsa folks means long lines at Shorty’s chuckwagon.”

“Relax, Kid, have a carrot. They’s plenty fer all.”


“Well, Pal, I s’pose it is a good thing. Heck, reckon I were a greenhorn once.”

“Yer still a might green, Kid. Kin tell you weren’t raised on no ranch, though you sure are handy with that shift shakin’ shovel in the barn. You know shit, fer sure.”

“Know when yer full of it too, Pal. These folks oughta explore the Ranch. They’s so much ta see here. Why, ya kin edu-cate yerse’f, learn all sorts a thangs. It’s sure a fun place.”

“Yep. An’ yer jist hopin’ folks goes off explorin’ an’ leavin’ you ta the chuck wagon.”


Straight Shootin’ Stars; or, Fortune and Fame is Fer the Byrds

“Pal, ya ever wanna be a rock’n’roll star? Git yerself an electric guitar, take some time an’ learn how to play?”

“No, Kid I ain’t. Always bin content right here, jist doin’ my ranch chores.”

“I know it’s last week’s prompt, but really, not even for one day?”

“Nope. Never wanted ta be a jukebox hero. The only stars in my eyes is these ones sparklin’ at night.”

“I s’pose yer right. I mean, what ya’d pay for yer riches and fame; sech a strange game, a little insane.”

“Yep. Them’s shootin’ stars. Here there’s rising stars, burnin’ bright.”


What’s In a Name 

“Pal, I been thinkin’.”


“Thinkin’ we gotta hep Shorty rethink this ‘flash fiction’ term. Seems the only rule she keeps is the 99 words no more no less part. But there’s BOTS an’ poetry an’ creative non-fiction. Heck, if all Shorty cares about’s them 99 words, flash fiction’s a might misleadin’.”

“So what would you call it?”

“Well, if it’s a short form of literary art she’s after, shlit covers it. Pepe suggests l’shart.”

“Jeez, Kid! Git some class. Who’s Pepe?”

“Pepe Le’Gume. A real character.”

“Dang. Thought Le’Gume was jist for one day.”

“Nope. Le’Gume’s a repeater.”


“Dunno, Kid. Got a not so fresh feelin’ ‘bout this Le’Gume character. Where’s he from?”

“Be a close reader, Pal. Shorty an’ D. Avery picked him up along the way.”

“Read betwixt the lines, Kid. Pepe Le’Gume’s somethin’ they passed along the way.”

“Don’t matter. Le’Gume is fulla beans, poppin’ with ideas. Could be a handy ranch hand.”

“Don’t want him lingerin’.”

“Lighten up Pal. Jest deal with the hand ya’ve smelt.”

“So what’s one a his ideas?”

“Wants ta make statues. Koalas, unicorns, ravens, longhorns…”

“Thet idea don’t stink. Kin he carve?”

“Reckon he kin cut a log.”


Going All Out

“What d’ya think a this Pal?

Meanwhile, back at World Headquarters, the head honcho, Shorty, returned to find her many minions toiling away in their cubicles. The Ranch was fine.


“Kid, whut’re you doin’? You ain’t left the Ranch. Yer jist makin’ shift up about World Headquarters.”

“So what? Ain’t that what writers is s’pposed ta do?”

“Ah, Kid, still tryin’ ta write? We ride fer Shorty, but we’s fictional characters thet git written. Leave it alone.”

“Cain’t Pal. Tired a bein’ left behind.

The guards were overcome by noxious gas. World Headquarters had an intruder- Pepe Le’Gume!”


“Kid, you ain’t even addressin’ the prompt! This ain’t about Carrot Ranch World Headquarters, s’posed ta be about koala bears and kingdoms or some sech.”


Pepe Le’Gume approached the imposing building that housed World Headquarters, in the Keweena Kingdom. “Shorty, you ol’ has beans, I come all a way here ta take yer Kingdom,” yelled Le’Gume. “Gonna take over the Ranch.”

“You kin go all a way back where ya come from, Le’Gume,” Shorty retorted.

“Wait a minute, Kid. Are you really gonna try an’ git away with using ‘go all a’ fer the prompt response?”



Unattended Baggage


“Whut Kid?”

“Our writer gittin’ dragged west. Hmmph.”

“Don’t think she’s gittin’ dragged. Heard she offered ta drive.”



“Jimmy who?”

“GMC. Truck.”


“Jist gonna keep hmmphin’?”

“What’s the word count? I’ll hmmph 60 more times.”

“It’s no skin off yer teeth Kid. An’ it’s good fer the Ranch.”

“Hmmph. I don’t trust our writer. She don’t git out much ya know. We’d best pack our saddle bags, Pal.”

“Heard she’s plannin’ on packin’ her sourdough starter.”


“Why hmmph with /ph/, Kid?”

“’Cause I’m sofisticated. We’ll tuck down in the back a the truck.”



“Kid, we should stay put right here.”

“Really, Pal? An’ where’s ‘here’, exactly? Anyway, that’s a ways off. Look it her squirm now with this prompt. Whinin’ ‘bout not knowin’ Copper Country so she cain’t be writin’ ‘bout its folks. But she’ll have ta come up with somethin’. Shorty’s got her committed, seems.”

“Prob’ly should have her committed… Ya know, Kid, we will go out there. We’s kinda like thet sourdough she totes ever’where. She feeds us an’ we feed her.”

“Yep. She needs and kneads.”

“Reckon the whole Carrot Ranch Literary Community’s comin’ along fer the ride.”


# 162


“Yeah, yeah. Pal, where are we? I don’t know if we’re here or there.”

“Shush Kid. Mebbe it ain’t about you or even me.”

“Reckon they’s havin’ fun?”

“Yep. The Poet Lariat is right there by a real live fire, an’ sure ‘enough she’s a real live wire. An’ hear thet? The Prentiss’ have jist arrived fer fireside chats. Hey, here’s Shorty. An’ Jule’s hub. OMG ain’t this cool? Could this git any better?”

“Sounds like we’re here.”

“Right here. Jist heard Ann Edall-Robson’s on her way too. Then Susan Sleggs.”

“Think they know we’re here?”

“Doesn’t matter.”



“Sure is nice, layin’ out here under the stars.”

“Yep, Kid, it sure is. Big skies an’ fresh air.”

“Hear that, Pal? Frogs croakin’. Listen. Don’t it soun’ like they’s callin’ fer Shorty? Shorty. Shorty.

“Kid, thet ain’t frogs. We’s on the Ranch, not some lake back East.”

“Then what is that sound?”

“D’ruther not say, Kid, ‘ceptin’ thet after two weeks a beans mebbe the air could be a might fresher.”

“Oh. Yep, I smell what yer sayin’. But hear that call, Pal? Gotta be loons.”

“Coyotes, Kid. We’s on the Ranch.”


“What d’ya s’pose Shorty an’ our writer’s up to? Ya’d think our writer’d be writin’.”
“Oh, she done turned that writers’ refuge in ta a writer’s refuse. Refusin’ ta write, claims doin’, seein’ stuff ya cain’t make up gits in the way of fiction writin’. Cain’t shape her WIP.”
“Shorty’ll whip ‘er inta shape.”
“Mebbe, mebbe not. Heard Shorty’s unner some kinda Green Mountain spell now too. Either thet or she’s jist been out in the Vermont hot sun too much. Gittin’ kinda looney.”
“Shorty ever comin’ back?”
“Reckon. Even those twisty gravel roads cain’t keep Shorty from Home.”


Standing In It

“What’s goin’ on Kid? Why’s all the furniture out here on the porch?”

“Stop right there, Pal. Don’t come in. I decided ta pitch in an’ hep Shorty spruce up the ranch. Decided ta paint the floor of the bunkhouse.”

“Oh, yeah, thet looks real good, Kid. Looks like yer almost finished, too. Jist thet there corner left.”

“It’s gonna be awhile, gittin’ this bit finished.”

“Thet’s ‘cause yer standin’ in it, Kid. Ya done painted yersef inta a corner. Reckon you’ll be waitin’ on the paint ta dry.”

“Yep. Reckon they’s worse things ta have ta wait on.”



“Shift, Kid, we might not make it ta the corral, might miss the round-up. Ya got anythin’?”

“Nah, I ain’t got nuthin’. Thing is, I cain’t be thinkin’ ‘bout waitin’ on thangs when I’m jist so content right here right now.”

“Yep. Ya got a good fire goin’. An’ thet storm had a good light show but blew right on through quick enough.”

“Storm didn’t hardly damp the fire. An’ lookit the light show now. Lightnin’ bugs flittin’ about. They was worth stayin’ up fer.”

“Yep. We’ve got it good Kid.”

“Yep. Cain’t wait ta share it with Shorty.”


“Pal, you ever had ta wait on somethin’?”


“Didn’t have ta wait ta git yer Ranch job?”

“Nope. Just was here when I was needed.”

“Huh. Were ya waitin’ on me Pal?”

“Nope. Ya showed up when ya shoulda.”

“Huh. Don’t ‘member ya sayin’, ‘Where ya been all my life’, an’ all like thet.”

“‘Cause I weren’t waitin’ on ya, Kid. Ya jist showed up. Could ask you- what were you waitin’ fer?”

“Didn’t know, Pal, but here I am, an’ I ain’t a’waitin’ no more.”

“Oh, my. Have you arrived, Kid?”

“Heck no. But here I am.”


Flying Leaps

“Shorty! Pal! What’s going on? Why are all the Ranch hands under the poet tree with that big cowhide rug? Did Kid get stuck up there again?”
“Howdy Ranger. Kid’s up the tree agin, but doesn’t claim ta be stuck. Jist wants ta take a leap.”
“That’s right. And when someone takes a leap aroun’ here, the Ranch hands are gathered ‘round ta catch ‘em.”
“Hmm. Takes trust. ”
“Yep. Ranger, ya think we’re crazy?”
“Yes. And I want to go after the Kid.”

Pen falls to paper
Words tossed wildly in the air
Story catchers break the fall


Unmannerly Speaking

“Pal, yer goin ta hell in a tote bag.”

“That’s ‘in a hand basket’ Kid.”

“Mebbe yer goin ta hell in a box a rocks.”

“No, Kid, that’s ‘dumber ‘an a box a rocks. Figger ya’d know that idiom.”

“Yer callin’ me a idiom?”

“If ‘n the boot fits.”

“Well, you kin take a long walk off a short pier, Pal. Make a splash.”

“Speakin’ a short peers, how ‘bout thet Shorty? Didn’t useta have a ghost of a chance, now she’s chancin’ upon ghosts an’ rubbin elbows with writin’ idols.”

“An idyllic life!”

“Yer still an idiom, Kid.”


Splash Down

“Hey Shorty. Kid’s up in the Poet-tree agin. Says it flows up there, kin git words down easily.”

“Jist hope Kid also gits down easily. Really pursuin’ that buckaroo-ku, huh?”

“Yep, seems like. Kid’s real het up on doin’ some writin’ lately. Wants ta make a splash.”

“Hey you two, I kin hear ya. Hang on, I’m climbin’ down with what I writ. Whoa, oh, ohhh! Oooh. Ow.”

“Kid, ya made more of a splat. But don’t give up.”

ripples on the pond

lead away from the tossed stone’s

unwavering path

splash silently echoing

lilies nod at the passing


“Headquartered in a state appendicular

Way up on the Keweenaw Peninsular

There’s no need to fret

Because of the net

Worldwide, the Ranch is not at all insular.”

 “Knock it off, Kid, limrickin’ gits my Irish up.”

“Yer Irish, Pal?”

“No, thet’s an idiom.”

“Ah, stop with the name callin’ already. Oof, speakin a limb wreckin’, I’m some sore from fallin’ outta the Poet-tree. Was up there spinnin’ tales, then was in a tailspin.”

“Mebbe ya shoulda hit the ground runnin’, Kid. Or flapped yer arms ‘stead a yer gums; soared ‘stead a sored.”

“Someday you’ll pay, Pal.”



Seeing Red

“Kid! Yer outta yer tree.”

“Yep, Pal, I figger the Ranch is at a safe elevation.”

“The Ranch is safe alright Kid. Not gonna set up in yer Poet tree and mint more buckaroo-ku?”

“Figger ya might need me. What’s her name is claimin’ ta be too busy, might not be around fer the roundup.”

“Kid! Ya done used my old red flannel shirt ta mend yer torn britches. Ya look like a baboon.”

“I like the color, like ripe strawberries. It’s a strawberry patch!”

“Kid, what’s the real reason ya clumb down?”

“Hopin’ Shorty’s gonna make strawberry shortcake.”


Lunar See

“Why’d ya git us out here, Shorty? It’s mighty dark.”

“I know; it’s the new moon.”

“Where? I cain’t see it. But the stars sure are sparkly.”

“Yep, stars are shinin’ bright ‘cause the moon’s outta sight. Ever’thin’s in alignment.”

“That sounds good, Boss.”

“It is good, Kid. New moon, new beginnings.”

“Ain’t you got enough started?”

“It’s all comin’ ta fruition. Think that’s why the next alignment’s the Strawberry Moon. Now help me pick mint.”

“Hmmff. Pickin’ mint in the dark a the new moon?”

“Yep. Mint’s fer hospitality. Gonna have a home, Kid, where all are welcome.”


With a Paddle?

“Hey, Ranger.”

“Pal. Where’s your side-kick?”

“You mean that pain in the ass Kid? Up a tree.”

“Is Kid stuck again?”

“Claims not, but chooses ta stay, come ‘hellish high water’. So sayeth the Kid. Kid’s kinda freaked ‘bout meltin’ glaciers and risin’ waters.”

“Want me to climb up there, have a chat?”

“Naw, let’s enjoy the peace and quiet. Kid’ll come down at the first whiff a bacon.”

“You going to cook up some bacon?”

“Naw. Anyway, Kid’s onta buckaroo-ku.”

Impermanent frosts

ancient glaciers speeding by

unnatural nature

Kid paddles in poet tree

Asses below, heads in sand

#155  (x 7! Guest authors!) 

Poet’s Tree

“Look up, Pal. I’m here.”

“Kid, what’re you doin’ up in thet tree?”

“It’s my poet-tree. I’m writin’. Told ya, I ain’t waitin’ on whats-her-name. Here’s yer buckaroo-ku:

when the people fall

and no trees remain to hear

deserts on the march.”

“Two things Kid. First, ya lifted that last line from Paul Sears’ book he wrote back in Dust Bowl days.”

“Yeah, but no one knows that, Pal.”

“Second, that ain’t buckaroo-ku.”

“Ain’t it?”

“No thet’s highku.”


“‘Cause yer so high up in thet tree. Now git down.”

“About that, Pal… Kin ya git me a ladder?”


“Kid, ya mean ta tell me yer stuck up in thet there tree?”

“Yep. Seems with trees what climbs up cain’t always climb down.”

“An’ now ya ‘spect me ta git a ladder an’ hep ya git down?”

“Yeah, was hopin’ ya would.”

“Sorry Kid. You said ta heck with our writer, so jist now, I’m gonna go write my own flash. Ya kin wait fer D. Avery ta show up and write ya down outta there, or ya kin write the ending yerself. But me, I’m goin’ off ta write a story.”


“It’s called ‘Tree Huggin’ Kid’.”

Coffee & Reverse Prose by Susan Sleggs

“Kid, if you think about it, you can get down.”


“Yes you can. Think about the position of your hands and feet took for each climbing step and reverse them.”

“That’d be like writing prose backwards. I only know how to go forward.”

“Not true….you know how to edit by rearranging or removing. In this case you just have to rearrange by going backwards.”

“Maybe I’ll try it come daylight.”

“I’ll have the Ranch cook brew up some strong coffee in the morning…..smelling that’ll get you moving.”

“Maybe now is a better time if there’s coffee.”


“What’s up, Pal?”

“Kid’s up, Shorty. Wrote herself up this tree an’ now’s too skeered ta write herself down.”

“Shorty! Hep!”

“Reckon you’ve gotta hep yerself, Kid. Yer on the Ranch. Perfectly safe.”


Once upon a time a ranch hand was up a tree. ‘How lucky,’ thought the ranch hand, ‘Ta be in a tree overlooking a boundless ranch.’ She saw the sun set and the moon rise. Then she saw her north star and lassoed it, swinging out and away from the tree, landing in a soft pool of moonlight. Shorty gave her a bacon sandwich.



At Home in a Tree by Charli Mills

A tree stretched its limbs upward and felt the weight of a human nestled in its branches. The tree’s bark tingled where boots had scurried upward more clumsily than the thorny grip of a black bear or the agility of a cat. But the end results remained – the human was stuck. Several visitors tried to coax the perched one down. Stubborn as a cat, the human remained stuck. After the bipeds left, the human hollered. The tree rustled, attempting a buckaroo lullabye –

Get along little humie, get along,
Rest in my branches,
For I will be your new home.


Shorty’s Call by Charli Mills

“Kid, get yer carcass outta my apple tree. Boots on the ground.”

“Kinda stuck.”

“Pal? Hey Pay – where’d you go off to?”

“Pal’s huggin’ a tree.”

“Kid, looks like that thar tree is huggin’ you.”

“Quilter said somethin’ ‘bout reverse prosin’ my way down.”

“Yep, that Quilter’s a wise gal. Not a wise acre like you or yer Pal.”

“Quilter sure does know her pieces.”

“Sure does. Kid, time you make hay and git down.”

“Down is not lookin’up fer me.”

“Now Kid, I might hav’ta wrangle ya from them thar branches.  Don’t make me fetch the Poet Lariat.”


“Kid! How’d you get down from the poet-tree?”
“Oh, Aussie, I don’t even know. Somebody writ me down or roped me and wrangled me down. They was a lot a hands givin’ me a lotta lip. It’s all a might enbare assin’.”
“Embarrassing, Kid. You made a spelling error.”
“No, I ripped my pants gittin’ down outta that tree. Been enbared after bein’ ensnared.”
“Kid. You often do things by the seat of your pants. Have you learned not to climb trees anymore?”
“No. Reckon I’ll head back up. Gotta try agin till I git it.”
“Growth mindset!”



“Jist ‘cause D. Avery’s been ridin’ herd on her family we git left behind? Tellin’ ya Pal, we gotta part ways with her, do our own writin’. We cain’t always be waitin’ on her. I ain’t gittin’ any younger.”

“Good thing, ‘cause the prompt’s ‘bout growin’ older. Ok, Kid, what’s yer idea fer the prompt?”

“Uh, well, nuthin’ yet.”

“Try haiku.”

“Bless ya.”


“Bless ya agin. Jeez.”

“No, Kid, haiku. Like this:

Bunkhouse floor dirt tracked

Every clod has a story

Time swept clean away”

“That ain’t haiku, Pal.”

“Ain’t it?”

“Naw, that there’s buckaroo-ku.”

“Yer cuckoo, Kid.”


Never Finnished

“Pal, you been on the ranch yer whole life?”
“Yep, reckon ya could say so. In thet I cain’t remember nuthin’ afore bein’ here.”
“Well, that’s a whole lotta hard work, all that ranchin’, day in and day out.”
“Yep, I reckon. Jist what a ranch hand does, Kid. Roll out ever mornin’ an’ jist do what’s gotta be done.”
“That’s sisu, Pal.”
“How is thet Japanese physical combat training?”
“Finnish. Sisu.”
“Says you. An’ finish whut? Ranch work ain’t ever finished Kid. No matter the weather or season. But it’s who I am. It’s what I do.”
“Sisu, Pal. Means yer tough, resilient.”
“If ya say so, Kid. Jist know I like ranchin’, an’ this here’s a good outfit. Shorty’s good ta work for.”
“Ya sure ‘bout that, Pal? This job have benefits?”
“Lots uv’em. Fresh air, wide open spaces, good folks,—“
“No, Pal. Benefits. Health insurance, fer instance. What happens if ya git hurt on the job?”
“Reckon Shorty’d take care a me.”
“Ya’d let Shorty take care a ya?”
“Now that’s true grit. Heard she heps till it hurts. Might wanna talk ta her Cowboy ‘bout her care givin’ skills.”
“That’s cold, Kid.”


New Blood

“Ya saw Ornery, Pal?”
“Yep. Ornery was missin’ Wanda. Complainin’, actually, ‘bout how she useta complain ‘bout havin’ tired blood. Says, ‘Tired blood kin be fixed by cookin’ with cast iron and dang it I’m the one fixed eggs an’ bacon in a cast iron skillet ever dang mornin’ fer us both’. Ornery swears he never got tired blood. Course he fergits how after he fixed breakfast he jist sampled his corn products while Wanda grew an’ cut the corn, gathered the wood fer the still, cleaned the cabin an’ fixed the other meals.”
“No wonder Wanda wandered.”


If Ya Try Sometimes Ya Git What Ya Kneed

“Hey, Pal! Where’s Sho-mmmfff?”

“Kid, I will remove my hand from yer big mouth if ya kin hush and jist whisper. Okay?”



“Where’s Shorty at?”

“Shorty’s Cowboy fin’ly got inta the sawbone’s. Done got a new knee.”

“YEEEHmmmmf. Oopfff.”

“Tellin’ ya Kid, ya wake Shorty up whilst she has a chance ta rest, I’ll more ‘an cover that mouth a yers.”

“Ah’m whisperin’. Shouldn’t Shorty be celebratin’? This is good news at last.”

“Ain’t really news, Kid, more like the happy endin’ to a long story a the frustrations a gittin’ ta here.”

“Reckon Shorty’s exhausted.”



“Now Shorty’s heppin’ her Cowboy git on his feet after the surgery.”

“She’s some sweet on that Cowboy. An’ he let’s her wear his shirt.”

“Don’t be givin’ Shorty shit over that shirt Kid.”

“Who’d ever give Shorty shit over a shirt that her sweetie shared with her?”

“Mebbe a shithead thet don’t know enough ta look where he’s steppin’.”

“Reckon Shorty’s Cowboy’s gonna have ta learn ta walk right agin. Pal, with jist one good knee ain’t there a possibility he’ll end up walkin’ in circles?”

“Reckon thet’ll make it less exhaustin’ fer Shorty ta track him.”



There They Go Again

“Let’s git goin’ Pal, Shorty’s steerin’ us ta some delicate ranchin’ chores. Git it? ‘Steer’?”

“No, I don’t git yer meanin’, Kid.”

“We’s ta do some gender fixin’. Ya know, gelding the colts, deballin’ the bulls.”

“Kid, that ain’t what they meant when they said fixed gender.”

“They? Shorty said; jist the one Shorty. She.”

“Nowadays ya kin say they fer a singular pronoun; gives ‘em wiggle room. Fluidity.”

“Pal, yer nuts, an’ speakin’ a such, do we or don’t we got some geldin’ ta do?”

“No! No geldin’!”

“Ok. But there goes dinner. Was gonna serve ya oysters.”


“Pal, then what’s this prompt about? I’m confused. Ya know as well as me, when a calf is born we look an’ there’s only so much we’s expectin’ ta see. Innies or outties.”

“It ain’t about thet neither Kid, ain’t about parts. It’s mebbe more how the calf sees itself , how it sees itself in the world.”

“Ain’t really ‘bout calves, is it Pal?”


“But folks is folks, kin be who they want, dress how they want?”


“World might be a more peaceful place if we weren’t jammin’ folks inta jist a couple a boxes.”



Hat Trick

“Pal, ya ain’t noticin’ my new hat.”

“It’s a beautiful day, Kid. Good day ta ride.”

“Yep. An’ ya still ain’t said nuthin’ ‘bout my hat.”

“I see ya’ve got a new hat settin’ on yer head.”

“Cain’tcha tell me what ya think of it?”

“Why? You went an’ bought it. You must like it.”

“Come on, Pal. Do ya like my hat?”

“No, Kid, no. I do not like yer hat.”

“Jeez, Pal, ya gotta like this hat.”

“No, Kid, I don’t. Ya begged me ta respond, ya don’t git ta choose my response. Now go Kid, go.”


Flash Fire  

“Shorty! Quick!”

“Whoa Kid. Where’s the fire?”

“All across the Ranch, Shorty! We better put ‘em out!”

“No, Kid, don’t. They’s flash fires. All the hands’ve been sparked ta write an’ now the Ranch is ablaze with inspired imagination. Jist enjoy all the warmth an’ light, Kid.”

“You started all this, didn’t ya, Shorty? What are ya, an arsonist?”

“Don’t you be an arse, Kid. D’ya think these fires should be contained? Lights kept under a barrel?”

“Shorty, this cain’t be safe, havin’ all these ranch hands playin’ with fire.”

“Yep, writin’s risky. But we’re safe at the Ranch.”


“Kid, seen our writer?”

“Nope. Don’t want to neither. Whines an’ mopes too much. Already complainin’. On the one hand sayin’ she’s already writ plenty about this prompt word before, on the other hand whinin’ that she ain’t got any ideas fer it. I told her ta try an’ use what she wrote fer a 15 word prompt.

Words hide. The pencil freezes in its tracks. The blank page holds its breath, silent.”

“How’s that gonna fit in with the Ranch prompt?”

“Easy. Jist crumple that blank page an’ toss it in the fire.”

“Ha! Start a flash fire.”


“Ya’d think this’d be an easy prompt. They’s always a campfire goin’ at the ranch.”

“Yeah, about that, Pal. Ain’t it a might cold fer us ta be out at night? What season is it here?”

“Kid, you jist don’t seem ta git that we’s fictional. We kin be warm an’ cozy year roun’ if we want. Right now I wanna be layin’ out under a sparklin’ starlit night, with a fire cracklin’. So I am.”

“Huh. If this is Shorty’s ranch, are those Shorty’s stars?”

“See thet one there, Kid? Thet’s Shorty’s north star.”

“It’s shinin’ bright, Pal!”


Crowned Eminence

“Kid, yer emanating fear.”

“I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”

“Ever one’s afeared a somethin’ Kid. It’s okay ta admit it. Then ya kin face yer fears. So jist admit what yer afeared of.”

“Well, what are you afraid of, Pal?”

“Me? I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”

“Huh. Was afraid you’d say that. But you gotta admit yer fears Pal. You said.”

“Well. I don’t like spiders Kid. Jist don’t.”

“Right? All crunchy and hairy and sudden moves. But do ya fear ‘em, Pal?”

“Mebbe… Why ya pushin’ this Kid?”

“I’m afraid one’s been an eminence on yer hat, Pal.”


Watering Whole

“Well, Kid, water ya waitin fer? The prompt has arrived, it’s time ta saddle up. Oh, let me guess, yer gonna turn water inta whine, gonna whine about the prompt. Again.”
“That’s a deep subject, Kid, an’ Shorty’s done subjected us ta deep thinkin’. Thinkin’ that musta been quite a time, bein’ amongst those water walkin’ women. Sounds right powerful.”
“Reckon it was, Pal. Ain’t nuthin’ more powerful ‘an a group a women ‘an water. Makes me smile ta think a Shorty at a tribal gatherin’.”
“Pal, Shorty’s at a tribal gatherin’ ever week. She leads Buckaroo Nation!”


Got All Them Buckets Comin’ Out of My Ears*

“Oh fer bucket’s sake. Kid, yer writer went ta the well without a bucket, plumb fergot the prompt word in that first bit.”
“She’s yer writer too Pal, don’t cast yer aspersions on me. But yeah, I heard she might be in the weeds this week, leastways she’s s’posed ta be tendin’ her day job.”
“Heard she might wanna start a ranch a her own, raise turkeys. She’d be the lead cluckaroo.”
“Gobbledygook Kid. Wattle you say next?”
“S’what I heard, Pal.”
“Yer hearin’s hurtin’, Kid.”
“What’d ya say?”
“Yer bucket’s done sprung a leak.”
“I heard that.”


Wood Be Artist

“What’re ya doin’ Pal?”

“I’m a’hewin’.”

“Bless you. Looks like yer carvin’. When’d ya learn ta carve?”

“I’m a learnin’ jist now as I’m a doin’, Kid. Try it.”

“Oh, I cain’t carve, Pal, not even a whittle bit.”

“Ya could if ya’d wood, and a knife. Jist try.”

“I don’t know how. It won’t turn out.”

“Won’t if ya don’t start ever. Here. Cedar wood.”

“Yeah, I see da wood Pal. An’ cain’tcha see I cain’t carve?”

“Jist shush. I’ll teach ya.”

“Gonna charge me?”

“Yeah, sure Kid, pay me in bacon.”

“You chiselin’ me?”

“Maybe a whittle.”


Mus Musings

“Rats, this is a tough prompt Pal.”

“You also complained when Shorty said cats. No pleasin’ some folk.”

“Jist sayin’, Pal. Ya know, Pal, there’s all kinds a mice.”

“So? The Ranch is a diverse place.”

“Reckon Aussie’ll write ‘bout kangaroo mice.”

“Sure, an’ D. Avery’ll write about deer mice.”

“Moose mus?”

“Punny, Kid. *Mus musculus* is the house mouse. Deer mice and kangaroo mice are actually a different family. But yer not outta order, rodent’cha know.”

“Now who’s punny? Pal, how come it’s mice and not mouses?”

“Jist is thet way.”


“Mebbe all your grouses are grice.”


There’s An Easy Button

 “All right, Pal. I’m up. Whut’s goin’ on?”

“Shorty’s cut off.”

“At the pass?”

“The peninsula. Not only is Ranch HQ gittin’ buried in snow, Shorty’s had ta bury her computer- it up an’ died.”

“That’s dire.”

“Yep. So how kin we back her up?”

“Reckon all the buckaroos have her back. They’ve hung in, kep’ right on writin’.”

“Yep. I tell ya, Kid, when Shorty gits knocked down she sure gets write back up. I’m thinkin’ mebbe backup means payin’ it forward.”

“How da ya mean ‘pay’, Pal?”

“Really? Yer pushin’ my buttons, Kid.”

“Oh! PayPal. That’s easy.”


Shorty’s Back

“Kid, you awake?”

“Grumff. A wanna be a-sleep an’ ta be left a-lone.”

“Kid, come on. We got a hard drive ahead.”

“Pal, this don’t compute. Shorty’s back in the saddle. She kin ride herd.”

“Yep, she kin, an’ we’re gonna ride with her. Let’s roll Kid. We’re Shorty’s back up.”

“Unnhh. Okay. Whut time is it, Pal?”



Tech Tonics

 “Don’t be difficult Kid. Shorty’s busy tryin’ ta sort out her tech issues.”

“Tack issues? Like saddle troubles?”

“Oh, she’d have thet fixed in a cinch. Tech, as in technical difficulties. Her dang machines is all actin’ up. Reckon we’s jist gonna have ta be patient.”

“I kin be patient Pal. Pal? Is it fixed yet?”

“No Kid.”

“Pal, now is it fixed?”

“Go shovel somethin’ Kid. Jeez.”

“Ya know, I don’t need a prompt. I kin write about… about…”

“How ‘bout technical difficulties and folks’s love-hate relationship with these infernal computin’ comunicatin’ devices?”

“Yeah, I’ll write ‘bout that.”


“What in tarnation are ya doin’ Kid?”

“Figger we cain’t jist set out here all isolated at the Ranch, Pal, we gotta do somethin’ ta help.”

“How’s thet drum gonna help? Where’d it come from anyway?”

“From when the women warriors was dancin’ roun’ the fire. Gonna use it fer old school messagin’.”

“An’ them cans?”

“Empty bean tins from when Shorty was off on some misadventure an’ weren’t here ta cook up her buckaroo beans. Gonna string ‘em tagether, git some lines a communication goin’ agin. Stop drinkin’ an’ help.”

“Need the bottles. Gonna send some messages downriver.”


“Kid, looks like yer lines a communicatin’ got all tangled and can-tankerous. Yer string phone’s knot gonna work. Guess I’ll have another beer, make another message bottle.”

“This ain’t funny, Pal. We’re stuck out here at the ranch, cut off from ever one.”

“Seems good ta me.”

“Yeah? You won’t think so when ya run outta beer. No tellin’ when Shorty’ll make it back. We gotta be mindful a supplies. We’re snowed in. It’s like Donner Pass.”

“Now yer jist bein’ hysterically historical. Kid, why you lookin’ at me like thet?”

“Do you have good taste, Pal?”

“Kid…. Ow!”


“Kid, sometimes they ain’t nuthin’ ta be done but hunker down. Tell stories. Like the one ‘bout the blizzard a ’19…

How it snowed! Valleys turned inta hills an’ hills inta mountains. When folks finally commenced ta shovelin’ they realized there weren’t no more room with all thet snow ta put any more snow. So they trucked it out by whatever means available- dogsled, snow machines- Took their snow to Washington DC. They didn’t jist dump it there. They packed it and stacked it and built a wall right around the capital. Shut ‘em in.”

“Really? Who’ll pay, Pal?”


Valentine’s Day

 “No gittin’ aroun’ this dang theme. An’ who’s gonna rein Shorty in, goin’ on ‘bout charming princes; tellin’ ya, she’s goin’ snow crazy up there.”

“Nah, she’s jist crazy ‘bout story tellin’ in 99 words. Why’re ya so orn’ry ‘bout this prompt, Kid? Come on, what’s yer story of love?”

“You purty much know it. I love bacon. An’ I love the smell of mud in the spring when there’s still snow on the ground. Love the sound a peepers. Love sharin’ stories here at the ranch.”

“Lovely. Let yer Palentine git ya a cider, tell ya a story.”

 “It was a long cold winter, lotsa snow. Spring arrived in a rush, swellin’ the rivers with melt water, turnin’ the roads inta oozy mire. The roads were impassable, travel impossible.”

“No bull, Pal?”

“Was a lady, Val was her name, got caught up in the flood, afloatin’ on a ice floe steerin’ with a board till it got tore from her grip. She was helpless, ‘bout ta be crushed in a ice jam.”

“Up the creek without a paddle?”

“Yep, but her lover went ta her rescue.”

“Did he get ta Val in time?”

“Yep. Saved the day.”


Signed On 

“Ow! Look where yer goin’.”

“Sorry Pal.”

“Kid, this prompt is perfect fer you.”

“Thinkin’ more fer Aussie. A cautionary tale about playin’ with matches.”


“Better singed than burnt.”

“Kid, the word is sign, not singe, which is why it’s a good one fer you. Yer always misreadin’ an’ misspeakin’.”

“I ain’t got no trouble readin’ signs, Pal. Shift, look where I ended up! Right where I’m meant ta be, here with ya’ll at this here Ranch.”


“Fact, I’m a sinecurist!”

“I git the little or no work part, but financial benefit?”

“Yep. The Ranch enriches me.”


Mist Agin

“Ah, Jeez, Kid, you writin’ agin?”
“Why not? I’m likin’ this prompt. Jist cain’t decide on my topic. Might write about the mornin’ mist in the river valley. Or the clouds that don’t clear the mountaintop an’ leave it sparklin’ with frost. Mebbe the steam waftin’ off the water trough or even the warm breath of the cattle like fog in the crisp air as they chew their hay.”
“Kid, you cain’t write about none a thet.”
“Why not? Jist goin’ where the prompt leads.”
“The prompt specifically said sea mist.”
“Yeah? Ever’ where I look I see mist.”


Cat Tell Rancher

“Pal!! Did you tell Shorty I have a cat?!”
“Why would I do thet?”
“’Cause I don’t.”
“I mighta seen a cat in the bunkhouse.”
“Ain’t mine.”
“Mighta seen ya feedin’ thet cat.”
“Well, it seemed hungry.”
“Mighta heard ya talkin’ ta thet cat thet ain’t yers.”
“Well, yeah, but… I mean it jist snuggled up on me an’ purred an’ … Really, it give me no choice.”
“Kid, is thet a cat toy ya have there?”
“Well, I saw it an’ figured what the hay.”
“Well, I’ll straighten Shorty out. You ain’t got no cat. Cat’s got you.”


Deep Waters Run Still

“Hhhrrryyy, Pel.”

“Cat gotcher tongue Kid?”

“Ack. I’m a pony.”

“A pony?”

“Yeah, a little hoarse. I ain’t spoke fer ages.”

“Bet thet bothered you.”

“Dang right it did. Jist ‘cause D. Avery wants ta turn tail and hunker down, why do I have ta? What d’ya s’pose she was up to anyway?

“Ain’t my business. But mebbe she was hopin’ ta quiet you down.”

“Hee hee. It didn’t work. I got bored an’ wriggled all aroun’ her head with nowhere ta go. You sure musta missed me, huh, Pal?”

“Sure, Kid. Like a headache when it stops hurtin’.”


“Ya know, Kid, it ain’t about you.”

“I know Pal. I jist love it here is all. Where were you all this time Pal?”

“Was visitin’ ol’ Ornery.”

“Ta have some a his whiskey.”

“Mebbe. But he’d busted up his still. An’ all his Mason jars— shards. I found him sittin’ an’ listenin’ ta the waterfall freeze, a whispery tinklin’ sound. An’ if ya listen up close ta the ice ya kin hear water inside, gigglin’ about spring a’comin’. Here, Kid, it’s a Mason jar Ornery glued back together outta 99 shards.”

“It says Moans.”

“Still holds water, Kid.”


Re: Treat

“Here ya are Pal!”

“Shush, Kid, I’m seekin’ a moment a silence.”

“Oh. Like Danni.”

“Yep. Think we’s the same denomination.”

“Yeah, it’s a poplar one.”

“Yer a pain in the aspen Kid.”

“Punny, Pal. Uh, Pal?”

“Yeah Kid?”

“Pal, what’re we s’posed ta do when Shorty’s off east cookin’ bacon at D. Avery’s fire?”

“Same as always Kid.”

“Don’t know why we cain’t go too.”

“Shorty needs us ta look after the stock.”

The stock on this Ranch kin virtually take care a itself.”

“Yer jist worried about yer pie hole ain’tcha Kid?”

“Shorty’s cookin’ sure’s a treat.”

#134 (x3)

Buckaroo’s Journey

“Been writin’, Kid?”

“Yep. Easy-peasy.”

“Gotta 99 word flash then?”

“Better! Jist started writin’, next thing I know, they’s hunnerds an’ hunnerds a words.”

“Yer a known shoveler. Which 99 ya gonna present? “

“Jist 99?”

“No more, no less.”

“Huh. Gotta cut to the chase then.”

“To the quick.”

“Down ta the bone.”

“What’s it about?”

“A buckaroo who looks back.”

“Where’s the plot, the conflict?”

“Looks back while descending.”

“Descending inta a cave? An abyss?”

“Nope, jist cellar stairs.”

“What’s the lesson?”

“Look where yer goin’.”

“Where was she goin’?”

“Think they was some elixir down there.”


“Kid! D. Avery!”

“Shift!… Uh, hello, D. Avery…”

“Kid. That is not your writing. Ergo, not an accurate title or honest byline.”

“Honestly? Ergo? Them snails what French folks eat?”

“Go ahead, do your own writing Kid. Should be a class act.”

“Kid, D., things is getting’ mighty weird. We might need ta call on the Ranger.”

“No! Not the Ranger! We’re all fine. I got this.”

 One dark and snowy night at the Carrot Ranch World Headquarters-

“Hey, how do we do the word count now?”

“You have eight left.”

“This ain’t easy.”


Shorty slipped an’ fell.


“Fine, try again, Kid.”

It was a dark and snowy night, ‘cause it was past August an’ that’s just how it is at the World Headquarters of Carrot Ranch Literary Community. The Lead Buckaroo was workin’ as Shorty, an assumed name. An’ that’s what happened. Zoom, on her ass, tumblin’ down the stairs like Salsola iberica tumblin’ across the plains.


“Writers research, D. Russian thistle. An invasive. Git use ta it.”

Given that simile an’ given her shortfall, an’ other dubious occurrences nationally, Shorty figured, after lookin’ back an’ all, that she’d been… Pushed!

Comrade Nanjo? Perhaps.




Best Face Forward

 “Hey Kid. See yer walkin’ facin’ the right way now. Have a seat.”

“Uh, no thanks, Pal… still hurtin’. Darn barn.”

“Ya looks as if yer hurtin’.”

“This’s ma thinkin’ face.”


“Thinkin’ back ta when I tried ma hand at writin’.”


“Thinkin’ ta do more a it. Send D. Avery packin’. Do ma own writin’.”

“Kid, it don’t work thet way. Asides, it’s a heckuva lot easier bein’ written than doin’ the writin’. An’ what if ya git D. Avery’s voice in yer head, huh?”

“She does claim we write ourselves…”

“Let’s keep our present arrangemint, Kid.”


Back Up

“Look where yer goin’, Kid!”

“I’m enterin’ the new year reflectin’ on where I been. Like Janus.”

“Yer an anus all right, walkin’ bass ackwards like thet. Turn aroun’ an’ look forward, Kid.”

“Looks good, Pal, lookin’ back. They’s a long trail a yarns, fer sure.”

“Yer gonna git tangled in thet yarn an’ trip.”

“Dang, I sure shoveled a lotta shit last year. Shorty even give me a badge. Ow! I’ve hit a wall.”

“Carrot Ranch doesn’t do walls. Jist backed inta the broad side a the barn with yer behind. Git up, look ta the trail ahead.”


New Year’s Revolution

“Envisionin’, Pal, ‘maginin’ where I wanna be down the road.”
“I’ll ‘magine ya down the road… Quit yer dreamin’, Kid, git ta work.”
“Workin’ on ma dreamin’. Thing is, Pal, I cain’t ‘magine nuthin better’n this here. Ma new year’s revolution’s ta be a ranch hand.”
“Resolution not revolution. Yer already a ranch hand!”
“Revolution. I wanna anuther go-round.”
“Kid, ya done hitched onta Shorty’s star, but ya gotta figger yer own North Star.”
“Did. Figger ta follow it right aroun’ the whole dang planet, full revolution- yeehaw! I’m back at the ranch!”
“Huh. Might’s well stay put then.”


Straight Talk

“Jeez, Pal, what’s she up to now?”
“You know who. Our author. Reckon D. Avery knows what she’s doin’?”
“Might. Might not. Cain’t say, not knowin’.”
“Why cain’t she jist talk straight?”
“Prob’ly ‘cause she’s suddenly fancyin’ herself a writer.”
“Hmmff. What’s a ‘big story’, fer instance? She meanin’ a novel?”
“That’d be new… Shift! Ya reckon she’s gonna put us in a big story?”
“Better not. We cain’t be gallivantin’ aroun’ in some dang story. We got chores ta do here at the Ranch. That shit in the barn don’t shovel itself.”
“Thet’s right Kid.”
“Dang straight.”


Advancing a Retreat

“Pal, why do writers retreat? Don’t they mean ta advance themselves an’ their craft?”
“I dunno ‘bout any a thet, Kid.”
“Pal, if our writer’s gonna have folks joinin’ Shorty at her lake, are we s’posed ta go too?”
“Don’t think we’s invited, Kid.”
“Never stopped us b’fore.”
“We live at Carrot Ranch, Kid. Got chores ta keep up with.”
“But, Pal, I heard Shorty’s gonna cook fer the folks. An’ there’s gonna be a campfire under the twinklin’ stars. Frogs an’ loons singin’ all night.”
“Got thet right here, Kid.”
“There’s loons at Carrot Ranch?!”
“Upon reflection- yep.”


Cora Beliefs

“Hey, Pal, what d’ya say?”
“‘Bout what, Kid? Cain’t waste words ‘roun here.”
“‘Bout Cora Kingston then. Know anything on that matter?”
“They say she’s from up north, Eagle River way. Cat Harbor.”
“That I know.”
“Say she went west with a near John, but not her dear John.”
“‘S’what I heard.”
“Thing is, Cora weren’t her real name; it was assumed.”
“I never assumed that.”
“No, Kid, she assumed it.
“Who?! Hooe?”
“Yep. Fannie Hooe come back incognito, claimin’ ta be Cora Kingston.”
“In neat clogs? Oh. Keens?”
“True story, Kid. Plausibly.”
“Hoo-wee Pal.”


Paint the Town Spaghetti Western by D. Avery

“Shorty’s repeatin’ herself.”


“We was prompted with pasta a while back, found out they’s at least 39 dif’rent kinds.”

“What are ya talkin’ about, Kid?”

“Graffiti, ain’t that some kinda pasta?”

“Here’s a dictionary Kid. Read it.”

“Graffiti: ‘writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place’. Illicitly? Shorty wants folks ta write dirty?”

“Read some more Kid.”

“Illicit: ‘Forbidden by law, rules, or custom’. Oh. Shorty jist wants folks ta break the law.”

“Kid, Shorty jist wants folks ta write-wildly, freely, openly. “

“Put it out there?”



All Write in the End

“We’re here.”

“Course we’re ‘here’, Pal, we’re always where we’re at. Uh, where we at?”

“That spot I was tellin’ ya ‘bout.”

“This’s more ’n a spot. This’s a big ol’ hole in the hill.”






“Gateway ta Hell?”


“Why? It’s darker ‘n dark’s night.”

“Shorty says that’s why. Anyway, what’s the worst thing could be in there?”

“Bats, bears, spiders, snakes, catamounts. Mebbe a pack a writers, think nuthin’ ‘bout killin’ off characters.”

“I’m thinkin’ on it. Let’s go. We’ll catch a story.”

“Ta bring back ta the campfire?”

“The write light.”



Light in the Lode

“Is Shorty a spelunker, Pal?”

“More like a miner. Why?”

“Jist wunderin’. She’s often talkin’ ‘bout caves an’ dark places. What’s she do, dig in the ground, mine fer copper?”

“Nah, but she does gather rocks, right in the light a day at the shore.”

“Shorty selects stones in the sunshine by Superior’s shore?”

“Sure as shift, Kid.”

“Then what’s she a miner of, Pal?”

“Yer thicker an’ a Superior snow squall, Kid. Shorty works words. She mines stories. Heard she hit a mother lode that starts right here at the ranch an’ reaches all ‘roun the world.”



Heads Up

“Hey, pick yer head up Kid. It’s only a week.”
“My head is down ‘cause I’m fixin’ ta say Grace an’ say all I’m thankful fer.”
“Oh. Thet ain’t how I do it.”
“How do you give Thanks?”
“Jist do. Think it an’ say it an’ feel it ever day. I thank all critters, ‘specially my horse; I thank the folks ‘at give me a laugh or somethin’ ta think on. I thank the sky above an’ the ground unnerneath.”
“I git it. Yer dang thankful. Pal… Thanks. I’m thankful fer you an’ ever’one here at Carrot Ranch.”


Happy Travails

“Pal, I am plumb wore out.”

“Where ya been?”

“Wandered over ta Twitter an’ got caught up in a blog tour.”

“A what?”

“Blog tour. Been followin’ Anne Goodwin aroun’.”

“Kid, you won’t never be able ta keep up with the Ranger.”

“I kin see that Pal. She cuts a wide swath at a brisk pace. Sets the bar high.”

“Trick fer you Kid might be ta stay outta bars.”

“Pal, I’m tellin’ ya, I was trailin’ the Ranger. So what’s goin’ on?”

“Ranger’s no stranger ta the ranch. Ya kin wish her well right here.”

“Dang! Well done!”


And Pal explained ta Kid how ya never have ta leave the Ranch, even ta buy the Ranger’s books. But Kid figgered that travelin’ is educatin’ and returned ta the Ranch with an even healthier respect fer the Ranger.


Sweepin’ Up

“What’re ya doin’, Pal?”

“Ever week they was writin’ fer the Rodeo, now ever week they’s celebratin’ ever’one’s accomplishment, an’ here I am, sweepin’. Ya’d think the dang Beatles had been through.”

“Well, it was the Fab Five, but Pal, ya might wanna update yer pop culture references.”

“Hmmf. “

“Sir Paul’s got a new album out though.”

“Do they still call ‘em albums?”

“I dunno. I’ll help ya sweep up, Pal. Is this confetti? Or scrap paper from the draftin’?”

“Is there any other way ta write?”


“I feel ir-elephant, Kid.”

“More like a woolly mammoth, Pal.”


Ropin’ Words

“What the flock, Pal, where’s Shorty at? Herdin’ turkeys?”

“Roundin’ up ducks more like. What’sa matter Kid, ain’tcha got enough on yer plate without worryin’ ‘bout Shorty? Or ya hopin’ she’d put some bacon on yer plate?”

“I ‘spose me an’ the ranch kin git by. She off with family then?”

“Kinda. Been off with NaNoWriMo.”

“What? That the ranch over the ridge? They havin’ some sorta git t’gether?”

“It’s a gatherin’ all right, a virtual gatherin’ of folks gatherin’ their words. A big drive. Listen, Kid, ya kin hear the crack of the WIPs.”

“Yee-haw! Write on, Shorty!”


Mash Flash (or, if the universe gives you potatoes, make vodka)

“Pal, you sleepin’?”
“Not anymore.”
“Started readin’ that book, Creative Courage. Been thinkin’ on Shorty’s post.”
“I know Kid, it’s intriguin’ ta think on what Anne Goodwin would think.”
“It is Pal. An’ I’m inta the epiphany of it ain’t gotta jist be the protagonist that changes. Could be the writer or the reader- any an’/ or all.”
“It’s a trifecta all right. Makes sense, long as someone gits some elixir.”
“Pal, have you been inta the elixir?”
“Yep. Ornery come by, brought some product.”
“He never comes by.”
“Came fer the mash.”
“Ain’t corn mash, it’s potato flash.”



“Yer writin’ flash Kid?”

“Why not? Who knows, mebbe writin’s my super power. Listen so far:

The mornin’ sun was a bright orange egg yolk settin’ in the sky. The clouds were white mounds a mashed potatoes, scuddin’ across the far-flung hills. A sudden wind whipped through the cornfield.”

“I kin see it, Kid.”

Horses stamped nervously. Sumpthin’ weren’t right. The Wondrous Wrangler noticed her mare had one ear a corn stuck to her forehead.”

“A uni-corn?”

The Wondrous Wrangler wrenched the corn free as the wind blew. The corn was added to the breakfast skillet along with bacon.”

#118 (x2)

Ranch Lite

“You fixin’ ta build a fire, Pal?”

“Yep. Figger if ever’one’s as tuckered out from the rodeo as me, they might wanna jist set a spell by the light of a warming fire.”

“Pal, ‘member when we first showed up here?”

“We? ‘Member, I’ve always been here, jist no one knew it.”

“Oh yeah. Then how come we’re always together?”

“Dang wish I knew, Kid. Prob’ly ‘cause when people hear voices it’s always plural, not ‘voice’. Someone needs us.”

“Someone could do worse.”


“Set, Pal, I’m gonna tell about me showin’ up here.”

“Can I stop you?”



It was a dark an’ stormy night.

“Kinda cliché, Kid.”

“Well it was, ‘an mebbe it’s metaphorical.”

“Meta for who?”


It was a tumultous time, deep winter. A young greenhorn, feelin’ her age-

“What? You describin’ cheese? How kin a young greenhorn be old?”

“That’s the way it is, Pal. Jeez, where was I?”

“On yer way here.”


An old greenhorn was wanderin’ the desert. The wind was blowin’ an’ somewhere in that wind was the answer, my friend.

“The answer was blowin’ in the wind? Was this 1963? Jist cut to the chase already.”

“If’n you’d let me.”

I was wanderin’ somewhat aimless, had gone off trail. I was stumblin’ in the dark. Then, crestin’ a rocky ledge-

“What’s that meta for?”

“Shush Pal!”

I saw a strange glowin’ light, color of carrots on the horizon…

“Were you near Roswell, New Mexico?”



I went closer, real cautious like. I wasn’t sure what it was, if’n it were safe. If’n it were meant fer me…

“Was it?”

“Sure was.”

I followed the light and come ta the fire here at the Ranch.

“That’s it?”


“Not much of a story, Kid.”

“Lighten up Pal.”


Horticultural Thoughts

“Whatcha thinkin’ on, Kid?”

“Thinkin’ on plants Pal.”

“Shorty said ta be thinkin’ on light.”

“I am. Ever heard a phototropism?”

“I favor geotropism. Like ta keep rooted, grounded in my place.”

“Plants kin take root jist about anywhere. Patient and perseverant. I reckon plants gotta be rooted firmly an’ reach fer the light. Always pointin’ towards the light.”

“Yep, Kid, they’s a lot ta contemplate with plants. Mebbe it ain’t so far afield, you thinkin’ on plants. Reckon folks is like plants, Kid?”

“Some is Pal. Some need cultivatin’.”


“Light. We gotta stay grounded and shine on.”


Livin’ Dangerously

“I ain’t never been one ta choose danger, Kid. Had realizations after the fact, been reminded thet danger and death are possibilities.”

“I’d say least one of those is a certain outcome, Pal, jist mind yer timin’ is all.”

“Zactly. But really, I don’t live dangerously. Wundered if D. Avery’d even let us out this round.”

“Pal, we don’t give her no choice, do we? Reckon she’s ever been reckless?”

“Yep, an’ she might be thinkin’ on makin’ another dumb dangerous move, switchin’ careers.”

“How’s thet dangerous?”

“Worried she might starve.”

“Ha! Seen her lately? She’ll last a while.” 

 #115 (x2)

Fear and Loathing in Las Ranchos

“Yer lookin’ queasy, Kid.”

“Feelin’ a might Ken Kesey, Pal. Been on a long strange trip over the river and through the woods ta deliver corn ta ol’ Ornery. The river was high but the pack mule swum it an’ I hung onta his tail ta git across.”

“A ferry tail.”

“I spread the corn out on the rocks ta dry but it popped. Gathered it up and went on through the woods. Met a strange little man who had the munchies. Traded the popcorn for a bag of magic seeds. Ornery said he’d turn them seeds inta gold.”


“Then what, Kid?”

“Then I was headed back when I saw a Colorado River toad in the woods.”

“Did ya kiss it?”

“Ruther not say. Jist don’t believe ever’thin’ ya read, Pal, I’ll say that much. After that I was trippin’ along when I saw a wolf.”

“What was it doin’?”


“That’s a bad wolf!”

“Not really Pal. This wolf had set up a smoker from some bricks she had and was smokin’ bacon over a fire made of sticks. Seems she had three little pigs ta cure.”

“This is unbelievable, Kid.”

“Least I got bacon after all.” 


Long Strange Trip Upriver

“Hey Kid. Heard D. Avery’s river trip’s finally over.”

“Yep, ‘cept it took way longer ‘an she planned.”

“Heck, she didn’t know what she was gittin’ into. Never listens no how.”

“True enough Pal. Weren’t prepared but says she learned a lot and would do it agin.”

“Wunner if she saw any piranhas or snakes. They say that river is full of ‘em.”

“Way she tells it seems like she was her own worst enemy; greatest challenge was navigatin’.”

“Ya mean she didn’t know what she was doin’.”

“Yep. But she made it, got her book on ta Amazon.”


House Keeping

“It’s dang quiet aroun’ here.”

“Ever’one’s off travelin’. Even Shorty.”

“I thought Shorty was jist doin’ some light house keepin’. You know, corralin’ dust.”

“No, Kid, she’s at a lighthouse keeper’s cottage.”

“Oh. Is a light house like one of those tiny homes?”

“A lighthouse. You know, with a beacon.”

“Bacon?! Shorty’s off cookin’ up bacon in a small dirty house?”

“No Kid! A lighthouse with a beacon up in the tower ta warn ships off the rocks.”

“That so Shorty kin have the rocks ta hersef? Hey, Pal there’s not a lot of ships out here.”

“‘Cept bullship.”



“Kid, whatcha doin’?”

“Mind yer- your- dialect. Irene mentioned grammar.”

“She did? What’s my Gramma got ta do with anythin’?”

“This here’s a rodeo contest… gotta put the polish on fer all the folks. For.”

“Four what?”


“Fer gosh sakes, Kid, we ain’t contestin’ an’ I ain’t changin’ no how. I jist come by ta see what you know about you know who.”

“Who? Yer gramma?”

“No! D. Avery. Dang she’s ornery. What’d she do that’s got her in sech a mood?”

“Oh, she’s gone an’ done it, Pal. Put a book out.”

“She did it!”

“True story.”


Keepin’ It Real

“Pal! The rodeo’s o’fictially begun.”

“What’s up with the purposeful misspell, Kid? It’ll spook Shorty, git her all worried about errorists.”

“Don’t mean ta worry Shorty; she’s got enough goin’ on. It’s jist that I’m always a might confused about fact an’ fiction. Like this rodeo… is it real? ‘Cause you an’ I ain’t, ya know that, right Pal?”

“Kid, we’re real- an’ we ain’t… I mean, we’re real characters…”

“Made up an’ hangin’ out in a made up place…”

“Kid, folks keep comin’ here ta write an’ read an’ that’s real-ly a big deal. It’s all good.”


Write Off

“So, is our writer friend, D. Avery gonna do anything with this prompt?”

“Her?! This is about dialogue. What’s she got ta say?”

“Thought you’d be able ta speak ta it Kid. An’ I’m a might worried she might leave it ta you ta do the sayin’. So jist wonderin’ if she’ll be talkn’; jist sayin’.”

“Well I ain’t sayin’ if she’s havin’ me say anythin’ cause the facts (alternative as they might be here in our fictional setting) are that there’s plenty folks around with plenty ta say an’ they will relish the challenges presented each week.”



Tuff Love

“Pal! Thought mebbe you were off courtin’ an’ sparkin’. Romance is in the air. Love…”
“Really Kid? What these folks love is a tuff challenge. Look through these comments. There’s excitement and anticipation. An’ a growin’ case of nerves.”
“That was a tuff challenge, alright, Pal. Shorty’s got kind of a mean streak, ain’t she?”
“Yep. But ya know, ever’one seems ta have had fun with the challenge too.”
“Reckon jist givin’ it a go is an achievement.”
“Yep. Ever’one done Shorty proud.”
“Done themselves proud. Bet they learned a lot about their writin’ an’ themselves.”
“Gotta love that.”


All We Are Sayin’

“Yee haw!”
“Kid, what the tarnation you so wound up about?”
“All the Buckaroo Nation celebrations! I was already gittin’ all excited ‘bout the Rodeo. An’ now there’s ta be a parade! I cain’t wait ta see all the flags from all over the world.”
“Flash, Kid, not flags.”
“And the food, Pal! Multicultural culinary curiosities from countless countries.”
“Jeez… Folks’ll likely serve food fer thought and fer the soul, Kid, but it cain’t fill yer belly. Don’t s’pect Shorty ta cook bacon either.”
“I’m hopin’ fer peas.”
“Why in the world?”
“’Zactly. Let’s have world peas.”


Virtual Reality

“Jeez, Kid, that post was kinda trippy. Had ta wunder ‘bout Shorty fer a bit there…”
“Trippy? Have ta wunder ‘bout you, Pal.”
“It’s a wunder we git anythin’ done aroun’ here what with all the yackin’. Saddle up, Kid, it’s time ta ride.”
“Pal, do we ride or write? This kin be punny place, I git confused.”
“Reckon, you an’ me, we ride, jist do ranch-like chores.”
“Good, writin’s too much work. I’d ruther be herdin’ strays, tendin’ the stock, ridin’ the range… It’s beautiful here.”
“Yep. We really have an epic workplace, Kid.”
“I imagin’ we do.”


Slow and Steady Kid

“Hey, Pal. Have a beer with me. Ever wonder why bottles is shaped the way they are, with the long neck?”

“Mebbe it’s so it’s easier ta pour. But we got no glass nor class, drinkin’ right outta the bottle.”

“If ya hang onta the bottle neck yer beer doesn’t git all warm.”

“Jist drink it down fast. Gimme anuther Kid.”

“I like coozies, ‘specially handy with so many switchin’ ta cans.”

“Don’t need a coozie, jist drink ‘em right down. ‘Nuther, Kid.”

“You prefer bottles or cans, Pal? Pal?”


“That was fast. Pal’s downed from downin’ beer.”


A Bit About Unbridled Dialog at the Rodeo

“Pal, you think it kin be done, tellin’ tales with jist dialogue?”

“What’re ya talkin’ ‘bout Kid?”

“Talkin’ ‘bout Le Pard’s Rodeo challenge.”

“More like a contest, Kid.”

“Do tell.”

“Zactly, Kid, zactly.”

“I swear you sure are exasperatin’, Pal.”

“Phewie, I do aspirate, an’ yep, yer aloud ta swear.”

“Allowed, not aloud.”

“Fer cryin’ out loud Kid, he’s gotta hear ya!”

“I got nuthin’ ta say.”

“Ain’t never stopped ya b’fore… What’re ya thinkin’ on now Kid?”

“Thinkin’ on what swear word ta call you.”

“Me?! Swear at Le Pard. Jeez, you sure are hard ta talk to.”


Pal Pays PayPal

“Hey, Kid.”

“What’s up, Pal?”

“I been thinkin’ on all thet Shorty’s doin’; second anthology, the rodeo…”

“Yep. Shore is a worker. Gives so much a hersef ta the Ranch.”

“Well, Kid, I found a magic button thet’ll hep us give ta the Ranch too.”

“Thought ya didn’t believe in magic.”

“Well, I’m beginnin’ ta. Ya jist go up ta the upper left hand corner an’ push some buttons and Kazam! Magically the Ranch is gifted.”

“You ain’t so gifted though. It ain’t magic; ya gotta pay, Pal.”

“So? I’m happy ta pay fer some Ranch magic. It’s priceless.”


Seein’ Is Believin’

“Pal, watcha doin’ way out here all by yersef?”

“Felt like bein’ alone, Kid.”

“The ranch hands is all busy corrallin’ stories ’bout magic Pal.”

“Jist wanted ta git away, lay out here unner the stars. ’Sides, I don’t believe in magic. Since yer here, set still, listen ta the popple leaves whisperin’.”

“The Ranch is out west Pal, call ’em Aspen or cottonwoods.”

“They whisper the same songs, Kid. Now look’t that big orange moon through the silhouetted treetops. Eh? Look ‘t that star strewn night sky. I tell ya Kid, it’s… it’s…”


“I believe it is.”


Heads Fer Tales

“What’sa matter, Pal, no smartass comets?”

“Don’tcha mean smart comments, Kid?”

“You ain’t so smart if ya don’t even know it’s about comets an’ such this week.”

“Yeah, saw thet. This is worrisome Kid.”

“Why’s that?”

“Talkin’ comets an’ meteorites? If Shorty starts thinkin’ on rocks thet fly aroun’ an’ come from the sky we’ve lost her fer sure. Her head’ll be spinnin’, lookin’ ever’where ‘cept where she’s goin’.”

“Mebbe she is lookin’ where she’s goin’. Lookin’ up, reachin’ fer stars. Don’t worry, Shorty’s got her seat in the saddle, her feet on the ground.”

“And in thet lake.”

#101 (x2)

So They Say


“G’day Pal. Where’s Kid?”

“Hmmph. I ain’t too sure. Still tentin’ I reckon. Complained last week about yeller tents and then takes off fer the woods totin’ one.”

“Look here, Pal, a note. It says, ‘See ya later Pal. Shorty says I am to appear in the woods.’ Seems Kid has misread the prompt again.”

“ ’Pears so Aussie. Dang!”

“What’s wrong, Pal? Kid does just fine in the woods.”

“Normally, yeah, but who knows what these ranch hands is gonna put inta the woods with this prompt. Why, they even say there’s a Bigfoot out and about.”


“Oh, I hope Kid doesn’t come across Bigfoot!”

“Me too, Aussie, poor Bigfoot doesn’t deserve that. Hey, do you feel like we’re bein’ watched or somethin’?”

“Yes, I do, Pal. Why, who is that peering from the woods there? Kid!”

“Aussie! Pal! I’ve reappeared.”

“We kin see that. Where ya bin?”

“I been appearin’ in woods all over. Went west. It was wild. Saw fossils an’ artsy facts an’ muse-icians.”

“You call that campin’?”

“Call it vacationin’. Guess who I spied peerin’ from the woods when I was tentin’?”


“Frannie Hooe. Least they say it was her.”



Too Tense

“Huh? Oh, hey Pal. Jeez… Yellow tents… ”
“You seem a might tense, Kid. Maybe a might yeller too. Just go where the prompt leads, don’t be afraid.”
“I ain’t afraid, Pal, in fact I prefer ta sleep out under the stars, no tent at all.”
“Don’t Kid, ‘cause I’m afraid I’ll have ta listen ta yer complainin’ ‘bout skeeter bites.”
“Hmmph. Pal, why is Shorty’s tent yeller?”
“It ain’t yeller. It’s transparent.”
“I see.”
“Yep. The midnight oil she burns makes it ‘pear yeller. Claims it’s like sunshine.”
“I prefer moonshine.”
“Jist go ta yer tent Kid.”


Good Measure

“What’s in that case, Kid?”

“Hee hee, wouldn’tcha like ta know?”

“Yep, that’s why I asked ya. So?”



“Ha! No. What’re ya wishin’ fer it ta be, Pal?”

“I dunno, I jist wondered is all.”

“Are ya worried ‘bout the contents, Pal?”

“Knowin’ you, yeah, a little.”

“Well Pal, I’ll tell ya, some say what’s in here is a treasure. The key ta yer success even.”

“My success? Kid, what in tarnation is in that case?”

“Ah, Pal, you’ve failed in yer quest ta guess. Ow! Okay, Pal. There’s 98 Ranch Yarns in here. An’ now 99!”


Any Who

“Hoo-wee, Pal, Shorty’s give us a tough one.”

“How’s that?”

“Fannie Hooe.”

“Fannie who?”

“Fannie Hooe. How’m I ta write ‘bout this Fannie?”

“Yer writin’ ‘bout yer fanny?”

“Hooe! Fannie Hooe!”

“Jeez, Kid, yer practic’ly yodelin’. Is it a hootenanny yer writin’ ‘bout?”

“No! Fannie Hooe. An historical figure up there in Copper Country, so they say.”

“An’ I figger yer hysterical, Kid. Jist spin a story.”

“Any clues ‘bout Fannie Hooe?”

“Well, if’n they named a lake after her she musta made quite an impression.”

“I hear tell she brought smoked bacon ta Copper Country.”

“Ya don’t say.”


Write On Buckaroo Nation


“Kid, why’re you sketchin’? That was last week.”

“Thought I’d sketch the Ranch. For perspective. Look, not a fence in sight.”

“I see it that way too Kid. Free range.”

“That’s right, free range! Where ever the prompts lead! No boundaries!”

“While I appreciate your unbridled enthusiasm Kid, there’re always boundaries.”

“What d’ya mean, Aussie?”

“You’re free to range about, explore and express yourself, but within the bounds of societal norms.”

“Oh. Maybe we oughtta fence out the new normal.”

“No Kid, let’s see what comes and goes as we all range freely.”

“Good ideas Aussie! Good ideas.”


Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall

“En guarde, Pal!”

“Put that dang thing away Kid.”

“Foiled again. But Shorty says we’re to fence.”

“We’re ta mend fences Kid.”

“Oh. Didn’t know we had a problem Pal.”

“We’re fixin’ fences ‘round the Ranch.”

“What’s that fence there do, keep the garden from strayin’?”

“Keeps critters out.”

“What about that fence? That keep critters out?”

“No, that one keeps the cattle in, keeps ‘em from strayin’.”

“Oh. Like if they reckon they’s greener pastures on the other side a the fence.”


“Seems like they’s two sides, in and out.”


“Seems like that could give offense.”



“Buttons ain’t nuthin’ without the buttonhole, Kid. Even less without needle an’ thread. Without those, buttons are useless discs, mere baubles. Their usefulness and purpose are dependent on the passage and tension provided by the buttonhole.”

“What’s wrong with baubles? Some folks use buttons as decoration, jewelry even.”

“Same folks keep their pants up with the yin and yang of button and buttonhole.”

“Huh. Ya know, Pal, some a yer yang is startin’ ta hang. So much yin ya cain’t keep it in. Thinkin’ yer buttons are strainin’ in their role.”

“Yeah, these buttons have become heroic, never buckling.”


Odd Rancher Out

“Why’re ya askin’ me what the ranch looks like, Kid?”

“I wanna sketch the ranch. Ain’tcha been here yer whole life? Who else should I ask?”

“Ya could ask anyone includin’ yerself, Kid. We all see it. How ya see it is how it is.”

“Huh. Reckon we all see it kinda the same. On account of it bein’ so ironic.”

“I think ya mean iconic.”

“Yeah. It’s a hoot though, ain’t it Pal? Folks from aroun’ the world can come here an’ be a buckaroo, git their old west on. Be literary oddests.”

“Artists, Kid.”


“Never mind.”


Don’t Take Yer Guns Ta Town, by A. Kidd

The scene an old west town, façaded building lined dusty street, wooden sidewalks, horses tied up outside the saloon where cider flows like whiskey which flows like water. Trouble simmering like the shimmering high noon sun. An over-eager wannabe steps out of the saloon to face the notorious Nemmy Cyss. Who would draw fastest? Whose aim would be true?

“No! Kid, what are you doin’? Yer not s’posed ta be drawin’ sixguns!”

“Well, Pal, I know it seems sketchy but Shorty said ta draw an’ so I figgered…”

“No, read agin, Kid, yer ta sketch. With words.”

“Oh. Shoot.”


In Line, Outta Tune

“This ranch is yer ranch, this ranch is my ranch, from the cookhouse griddle, ta the windswept prairie!”

“Jeez Pal, yer outta tune.”

“Wrong again, Kid, I’m in tune, in tune with this here ranch. Don’t it jist produce an’ provide! Yep, Shorty sure works fer us.”

“Works fer us? Ain’t Shorty boss?”

“Hardest workin’ boss a ranch hand could ever work for, Kid.”

“Yer right, Pal.”

“All we have ta do is play with words, an’ we don’t even Have ta do that.

“I shovel shit.”

“An’ yer full of it. Now git ta work an’ go play.”


Reality Check

“Pal, buy me a beer.”

“Cain’t Kid, spent ma beer money on the Go Fund Me fer Cynthia Drake.”

“Same here, Pal.”

“That’s good, Kid, ‘cause them folks up there really need ta dry out.”

“Whyn’t they jist come shelter here at the Ranch?”

“Ah, Kid, the Ranch is a wonderful shelterin’ place, but yer always fergittin’ ‘bout the virtual elements of it.”

“Here ya go agin, Pal, havin’ ta remind me we’s fictional characters. But I really wanna help.”

“I’m sure the Drakes ‘preciate you givin’ up yer beer money, Kid.”

“I’m thirsty.”

“Could be worse.”

“Dang right.”


Hi Noon at the Bouquet Corral 

“Pal! Where’s Shorty at?”

“Whoa, Kid, what’s wrong?”

“The ranch hands! They’s all off in the upper meadows an’ in the woods sniffin’ flowers an’ makin’ daisy chains.”


“So?! They should be makin’ hay, not pickin’ flowers! We gotta be makin’ hay; sowin’ an’ reapin’. Git ready fer winter. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, whyn’t you relax, go sniff some flowers yerself?”

“Cain’t, no time, gotta replenish the carrot bin, git hay inta the barn. Winter’s comin’. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, go back ta the meadow. Shorty’s there gatherin’ flowers.”


“Fuel fer the soul, Kid. Important work, time well spent.”


For our Bearded Buckaroo Bards

“Men listen? They ain’t great listeners Pal.”

“Not like you.”


“Shorty said ‘man glisten’ Kid.”

“What’s that?”

“Could be glitter in a beard or jist bein’ okay with glitter in a beard.”

“Huh. Well, is it okay? Ain’t ranchin’ cowboy types s’posed ta be rough an’ tough? Buckaroo Nation women are all warriors. Are all the men here good looking?”

“That’s Lake Woebegone. Here men look good if they know when ta hold ‘em an’ know when ta fold ‘em, know that it ain’t weak ta turn the other cheek.”

“An’ if their cheeks are glittered, they’re golden.”


Rancha Mythica

Drumbeats and dancing feet reverberate like thunder across the lands of Buckaroo Nation.

The usual low, homey campfire is now a blazing bonfire. Flames leap wildly, lashing the night sky. Wild women are illuminated in flashes, scars revealed in the dancing light.

Old stories are told in new ways. Sad stories are told. Yet laughter rings out strong and true. Songs of life rise up like sparks from their fire, sung to old tunes that resonate like a smooth round rock.

The women warriors rise. The women warriors raise one another up. The women warriors of Buckaroo Nation write.


Putting It Out There

“Hey Kid. Set a spell.”

“Thanks, Shorty, I’d ruther stand.”

“Ok. Whatcha been up to?”

“Been workin’ on ma brand.”

“You do listen! An author’s brand!”

“More like a tattoo; didn’t have the mettle fer a actual brand.”

“Uh huh… what’s it say?”

“Picture of a book, says, ‘Read mine’.”

“Kin I see it?”

“I’d ruther you not.”

“Kid, branding and marketing are about exposure, how you show yerself to yer reading audience. Come on, let’s see yer tattoo.”

“It’s on my rump.”

“Oh. Cheeky. Not the kinda exposure I meant Kid. S‘pectin’ a large followin’?”

“Kinda hopin’ not.”


Crumbles & Grumbles

“Kid there ain’t no cookies.”

“But Shorty had her cake an’ ate it too, an’ now she’s on about cookies. I could sure hep her with cookies.”

“No, ya cain’t, Kid, they ain’t real cookies. Shorty’s talkin’ GDPR.”

“God damn pryin’ raccoons? Jist say it, Pal.”

“No! Not raccoons.”

“Oh. ‘Cause they kin be trouble.”

“Shorty has ta tend ta General Data Protection Regulations.”

“Oh. Huh? Protection? The ranch is safe as kin be. Fictional lives matter here.”

“Good thing, ‘cause real life kin be pretty ridiculous.”

“Yeah, cain’t make that shit up. It’s unbelievable.”

“Yep. Good luck, Shorty.”

#85 (x2)


“Carrot Ranch, Pal, it’s pretty big.”

“Yep, gits bigger ever day, seems.”

“It’s set up good fer cattle an’ hosses, plenty a range.”

“Yep. Shorty knows how ta take care a such.”

“But they’s also wilderness fer forest bathing; big skies fer dreamin’; plenty a space and cover fer unicorns, longhorns, an’ all manner a birds. They’s even fishin’ holes an’ bat caves.”

“Yep. Shorty’s got quite a spread.”

“An’ she welcomes ever’one.”

“Ever’one what kin behave.”

“Big di-verse spread like this, must be pretty valuable.”

“Kid, this place is priceless.”

“I sure value it, Pal.”

“Me too, Kid.”


“Yep, I sure admire what Shorty’s done here. Got herself a fine spread.”

“Thing is Kid, land don’t really ever belong ta anyone.”

“You sayin’ this ain’t Shorty’s ranch?”

“I ain’t sayin’ that. But Shorty belongs ta the ranch as much as the ranch belongs ta Shorty. If ya live on a place ya got a responsibility to it, gotta take care of it if’n ya ‘xpect it ta take care a you.”

“Well, Shorty sure ‘nough takes care a the ranch an’ all the critters an’ folks that come through.”

“Yep. Shorty an’ the ranch are gonna flourish.”


Raising Crane

“So many egrets.”

“Regrets? What do you have ta regret, Pal?”

“No, Kid, egrets, they’s a bunch a cattle egrets roamin’ the ranch.”

“Oh. Thought they was cranes.”

“No, egrets is more like herons.”

“Yeah, they’s here on the ranch. Cranes.”

“We do git sandhill cranes here, Kid, but cranes an’ herons an’ egrets is diff’rent.”

“Well, what’s the diff’rence then, Pal?”

“Fer one, cranes fly with their necks straight out not tucked in.”

“Seems a bold move, Pal, stickin’ their necks out an’ all.”

“Yep. Bold an’ beautiful.”

“Let’s raise cranes! At Carrot Ranch!”

“Shorty sure won’t mind.”



 “Dang, look it thet long line at Shorty’s chuck wagon.”

“Yep, she’s in a bloomin’ good mood Kid. Spring’s got ‘er cookin’ outdoors again an’ she’s fried up a mess a bacon fer ever’one.”

“Yeehaw! ‘Bout time! Let’s go. Oh, yeah, Pal, ya kin smell the bacon even back here at the end a the line. I cain’t wait.”

“Ya’ll have ta wait Kid, wait yer turn.”

“I know Pal.”

“Otherwise ya’d be outta line.”

“I ain’t gittin’ outta this line… gittin’ there, Pal… Shorty! Shorty? Why’d ya serve me a carrot?”

“Sorry, Kid, outta bacon, but carrots aplenty.”


Thar Blows

 “What’re ya doin’, Kid?”

“What’s it look like?”

“Goin’fishin’. But with that outfit? Ocean rod? Trollin’ reel?”

“Go big or go home, Pal.”

“I think yer flounderin’ Kid. Yer way overrigged fer the stock pond or the stream. Ya know thar ain’t a bass hole on the ranch.”

“I’m thinkin’ big, Pal. Gonna bait up right here in the paddock.”

“Hmmph. Yer hookin’ yer leader to a kite?”

“Yep. Let the line out… look at ‘er go… higher…. I’ve caught the wind, Pal! Look at that kite soarin’ over the ranch!”

“Kid, this is relaxin’.”

“Yep. Catch. An’ release.”


Raw Lit response 4-25-18

“Somethin’ ‘bout this ain’t ringin’ true, Pal.”

“What’re ya talkin’ ‘bout Kid? Ever one knows Shorty’s wild ‘bout rocks.”

“That’s true. But “budget”? How’n heck kin Shorty have a budget ta send rocks? Why that place is so far off they’s still in the Snow Age, jist dreamin’ of the Stone Age. Do they even have money up there? Ain’t they still usin’ Pony Express fer mail? Who’s gonna pay fer the ponies’ chiropractic treatments fer their rock haulin’ backs? Who’s gonna pay, Pal?”

“Shush, Kid, listen. Yer echoing off thet rock wall yonder.”


“I hear it Pal!”


Cookin’ With Mum    (4-23-18)

“Kid, ya don’t belong here, wrong post.”

“I sure as shit belong here, Pal, it’s still the ranch. An’ I smelled coffee.”

“Hmmph. Don’t you have chores ta be doin’?”

“Cain’t work on an empty stomik, Pal. I’m thinkin’ Shorty might need hep cookin’ over here.”

“Yer as much hep in a kitchen as a coon in a corncrib. Git.”

“But, I was hopin’…”


“..fer some bacon.”

“I’m gonna give ya a side a somethin’ Kid, and it ain’t gonna be bacon. Now git.”

“Maybe if Shorty fixed ya some bacon you wouldn’t be so dang ornery.”



Hero’s Journey

“Pal, yer back.”

“Yep. Why’s it so quiet roun’ here?”

“Guess ever one’s still off huggin’ trees.”

“Even Shorty?”

“Heard like, if she kin git her forest shoveled out.”

“Jeez. If any one kin shovel out a forest it’s Shorty. She’s a Titan.”

“I’ll say. Did ya happen ta catch her interview at Literary Titan? She done the Ranch real proud.”

“Yep, sure did.”

“Whatdya think Shorty’s inner hero is?”

“I reckon Shorty’s a buckaroo through and through. True ta herself and ta the Carrot Ranch Community. Boldly going where her inner prompts lead.”

“Heroic leader of Buckaroo Nation!”


Turned Around

“Ever go off inta the woods, Pal?”


“Ever git lost?”

“Jist turned around.”

“Were ya scared?”

“Naw. It don’t matter not knowin’ ‘zactly where ya are, long as ya know where ya ain’t. Ain’t no place I’d ruther be ‘an in the woods.”

“‘Parently the Japanese developed goin’ inta the woods in the eighties.”

“De-veloped woods walkin’?”

“It’s called forest bathing. We oughta lead a group inta the woods, Pal.”

“I bathe alone.”

“S’posed ta make ya happier.”


“More connected. Hey, where ya goin’?”

“Cain’t hear ya Kid, bad connection.”

“Where ya headed?!”

“Inta the woods. Alone.”



“Whatcha lookin’ fer Pal?”

“My dang glasses. Have you seen ’em?”

“Did you look by yer bunk?”


“Well, look agin, they’re probably somewhere near.”

“All right I’ll go back and look in the bunkhouse.”

“Not there? Huh. Ya had ‘em at breakfast.”

“I’ll go back an’ check.”

“Not there?”


“‘Member you was readin’ the label on the grain bag.”

“Jeez, back ta the barn then.”

“Pal, yer beginnin’ ta look tuckered. Did ya find yer glasses in the barn?”

“Do you see them on my face?”

“Did ya think ta look on yer head?”

“Dang you, Kid!”


Equal Knocks

“Where ya been, Kid?”

“Jest made the perfect vegie-tarian Easter dinner.”


“Nope. Bacon and brussel sprouts.”

“Kid, bacon ain’t vegie-tarian.”

“Whoa, Pal, thought we’d all agreed this was a culturally inclusive place. Don’t tell me how ta be a vegie-tarian. My people like ta include bacon.”


“Well, what’ve you been up to? Got yer fingers in ever’one’s pot I s’pose.”

“Na. I been stayin’ outta the way. Ridin’ fence mostly, lookin’ out fer signs a spring.”

“Lookin’ fer greener pastures, Pal?”

“Don’t go pointin’ any fingers, Kid. No, there’s plenty a range here at the ranch.”




“Kid, now what are you cussin’ about? This use ta be a fairly family friendly ranch.”
“Yep, it did. An’ spreadin’ shit use ta be a simple chore requirin’ simple technology, jist a manure fork. If they computerize that chore I might be made redundant.”
“Kid, ya certainly ain’t super, but neither are ya superfluous. What in heck are ya on about anyway?”
“Read Pal! Now they’s all on about usin’ them dang computers ta spread shit. I happen ta like that chore.”
“Kid, they’s talkin’ ‘bout spreadsheets. Yer dream of gittin’ a shit shovelin’ badge lives on.”



“Kid, I kin hear yer dang harrumphin’ halfway ta the corral.”
“I ain’t goin’ ta the corral, not via no dang Face Book.”
“Well, don’t then, use the contact form. Look, Kid, I bunk with ya, so I kin smell ya don’t like change, but this here’s good. The Ranch is growin’, Kid, Shorty’s dreams are growin’. Ain’t that some change ya kin pocket?”
“Well, if’n it helps Shorty. T’ain’t much of a chore, really.”
“Many ranch hands make light work. Maybe ya kin even git a badge.”
“Git deputized? I ain’t inta badges.”
“Ya sure do badger me.”

#73 (x2)

And Eat it Too

“Shorty sure takes the cake.”
“Yep. Carrot cake.”
“Shorty’s a first responder! She kin really take the reins. Heck, she kin braid her own reins. That wrangler built a ranch, ran a rodeo, an’ published a book all while workin’ on her own books. An’, she sure kin cook. Is there nuthin’ Shorty cain’t do?”
“Jeez, that’s a tough one, but I already know the answer. She cain’t be anything but kind.”
“Got that right Kid, she ain’t never.”
‘Yep. That gal’s got broad shoulders and a big heart.”
“Got that right Kid. Why, Shorty’s heart’s as big as…. “
“Pal, ya left another sentence unfinished.”
“Yep. Readers kin submit the end of that sentence here as a reply. If they do, an undisclosed amount of money will be donated to Carrot Ranch through that fancy patron button up there in the upper left hand corner.”
“Like last week.”
“Yep. Aussie got an A fer effort fer her subtle submarine subtext.”
“It’s hard for Aussie ta be anything but decent. Don’t unnerstan’ her hangin’ out with you.”
“It’s a wonder.”
“From down under. So you want folks ta finish that sentence?”
“Yep. Shorty’s heart is as big as_____________ .”


When the Party’s Over

“Hmmph. Shorty an’ her dang celebratin’. With balloons? Ain’t seen this much latex since-

“Come on, Pal. It was a party.”

“Sure, an’ look who’s aroun’ ta clean up. You an’ me Kid, that’s who. Latex skeeves me out. An’ it’s litter, bad fer the critters.”

“Pal, yer fergittin’ we’re fictional. Wanna happy ending? Ok, these balloons are made from corn. They’ll bio degrade, feed the soil.”

“Corn, ay?”


“Could be a problem.”

“Jeez, Pal. How now?”

“Remember Ernie? At Wanda’s still?”

“Oh. Well, reuse, recycle, repurpose. Distill ends well.”

“It’s kinda corny, but I’ll drink to it.”


Pal Says

Think his name was Ernie, they called him Ornery. Once had a woman, a whiskey maker. He loves her still. Her name was Wanda and that’s what she did. She wandered away when she found her Will. She and Will got a goat ‘cause she wanted a kid, left ol’ Ornery, but he loves her still.

Wanda and Will, hear they’re livin’ clean. Ol’ Ornery’s up in the hills, livin’ by the rushing still stream. Under the pines he parses corn, he thinks of Wanda, but doesn’t mourn, ‘cause he loves her still. Talks to the ravens, ravin’ drunk.


99 Wort Ballons

“Pal, we oughtta have speech balloons.”

“Yer jist sayin’ that ‘cause you an’ you know who are so het up about quotation marks.”

“Says you. Jist sayin’ speech balloons’d be pretty cool.”

“That could lead ta thought balloons. Ya want people readin’ yer thoughts?”

“Wouldn’t be too much of an imposition.”

“Kid, if we spoke an’ thought with those devices, well, we’d be cartoons!”

“What are we now?”


“Not caricatures?”

“Well, mebbe… but that’s where I draw the line!”

“Keep drawin’, Pal, mebbe ya can make a cartoon.”

“Druther speak a thousand words.”

“99 at a time Pal.”

#69 (x2)

Second March On

“Kid, guess what happened on the ranch one year ago today?”

“Ya stepped in somethin’?”

“Nope. D. Avery submitted her first ever flash fiction response.”

“Oh. So she stepped in somethin’.”


“Then we showed up couple months later, right Pal?”

“Actually we were here ahead a her.”

“How kin that be? I mean I git that Shorty, Aussie, Still Waters an’ the rest of ‘em were here, but us?”

“Yep, we were here all along. Jest didn’t know it yet.”

“Huh. Guess I don’t git this writin’ thing.”

“Neither does D. Avery, but she ain’t tucked tail yet.”


“Speakin’ a tales, there’s a bunch a new folks writin’ ‘round the ranch.”

“Do tell.”

“Yep, reckon they come fer the prompt an’ stay for the chomp.”

“S’pose so.”

“Yep. They read, write, an’ repeat.”

“Kid, yer readin’ off the posters.”


“Folks likely come by fer the same reasons we’re here.”

“Ya mean they don’t wanna real job either?”

“No! They jest wanna exchange stories by the campfire.”

“Hang out by the chuck wagon, eat up Shorty’s vittles.”

“All the raw carrots a buckaroo could want.”

“It’s all good, all right. All we want for is bacon.”

“Shush, Kid.”

#68 (x2)

Horn of a Dilemma

“Jeez, Pal. Do ya know what she wants this week?! Ain’t right fer a place that goes on about diversity an’ all. Shorty’s been on the road, musta got brainwashed.”

“Kid, jist calm yersef.”

“Wunder what color?”

“Kid, they can be any color you want.”

“Yeah, right. They’ll be all the same, all regulated. Why ain’tcha bothered, Pal? Oh, did Shorty give ya epaulets, make ya feel impotent?”

“That’s important, and- WHAT?”

“Uniforms, Shorty says uniforms now at Buckaroo Nation. Seems a might imperialistic ta me.”

“Kid, we’re to get unicorns, not uniforms.”



“That’s weird.”

“Jest ride.”

### Jest Quest



“A-maizing. I dunno, Pal. I don’t know much ‘bout uni-corns.”

“Break it down Kid. Ya know hosses?”

“Ain’t my first time at the rodeo.”

“An’ ya know longhorns?”

“Well, sure, we’ve had our share a longhorns at the ranch.”

“So jest round up a bronc with one long horn.”

“Thinkin’ we’re gonna have ta ride a long ways fer this ‘un.”

“Yep. Ta antiquity.”

“Next ta Barbuda?”

“No, into olden times, maybe even magical times.”

“Think I’ll jest hang back this time.”

“What’sa matter Kid?”

“Um, jest read ya gotta be a Virginian ta catch a uni-corn.”


Any Other Name

 “How long ya been here on the ranch Pal?”

“My whole life.”

“Ever leave?”

“Well, I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

It felt good to be out of the rain

In the desert you can remember your name

‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.”

“That was kinda weird Pal, and stealing song lyrics too.”

“Yep, but that’s where I went, Kid. It was a lonesome place an’ I was all alone an’ never felt lonely.”

“Gotta point, Pal?”

“Not sure, Kid. ‘Cept ta say there’s flowers in the desert.”


“Hey Pal, what’s black and white and read all over?”

“Jeez… what, Kid?”

“Flash fiction by the ranch hands!”

“Har, har Kid, but I don’t think all this flashin’ is so funny. It’s gittin’ outta hand. D’ya see what they’re about this week? It ain’t right.”

“Black and white, yer favorite colors, Pal. Pal, what kinda humor does an ornery ole ranch hand have?”



“Kid, I’m serious, they shouldn’t be puttin’ nuns in monster trucks.”

“It was un-convent-tional, Pal, but good fun.”

“It’s outta hand.”

Why’re ya worried?”

“Because flash fiction is habit forming.”

“Oh brother.”




“What’re you doin’?”

“Gonna check the books, make sure the ranch’s in the black.”

“Y’ain’t qualified nor authorized, Pal!”

“It’s gotta take some green ta maintain all these green pastures, Kid. I worry.”

“Reckon Shorty figgers it’ll kinda pay for itself.”

“Been all aroun’ this ranch an’ I ain’t seen a money tree yet Kid.”

“There’s a bookstore. An’ Amazon sales. Jeez, Pal.”

“Yeah, yer right. An’ let’s tell folks about the “slot machine” up in the left hand corner, gives great returns on investments.”

“Don’t lie, or you’ll pay, Pal.”

“White lie, Kid. It does give great returns.”


Buckaroo Nation

“Well, Kid?”

“Well, what Pal?”

“The well. Shorty said the well’s gotta be replenished. So let’s go, let’s git ta work.”

“Ah, there was somethin’ fishy ‘bout all that. Anyway what I heard Shorty say is we’re s’posed to play.”

“Kid, yer a ranch hand, ya gotta work.”

“Nope. I am ta be like the deer ‘an the antelope ‘an play.”

“I’m about played out with yer foolishness, Kid.”

“Hey Pal?”

“Now whut?”

“Ya ever play cowboys ‘an Indians as a kid?”


“I’m confused about bein’ part of a tribe a buckaroos.”

“It’s all good, Kid. Buckaroo Nation.”

#63 (x4)

Pal & Kid on Twitter

Got any friends, Kid?

Had a dog once.

Ya gotta tweeter more.

Don’t like bein’ stalked, Pal.

It’s ‘followed’.

Sounds creepy ta me.

‘An ya gotta follow folks yerself.

Be the creep? Na.

Kid, how’d ya ever meet anyone?

Who do I need ta meet?

Yer a heap a fun, ain’tcha?

Cider helps.


Kid, string some bacon roun yer neck, mebbe coyotes’ll follow ya.

That’s cold Pal.

S’posed ta be cold, ‘member?

S’posta see cold, not be cold. Anyway, Pal, yer too het up ‘bout followers.

What are we doin’ out here?

Dunno. Feels like fishin’.

From which end a the line?


Ain’t likin this Pal.

Yer jealous a my followin’.

Ain’t followin no further, too scary. Cain’t see nuthin’. I’m headin back ta the ranch.

Jeez Kid.

Weren’tcha never told not ta tweet ta strange birds?

Yer the strange bird ya chicken.

Hey I smell hashtags n bacon.



Where you two been?


Shorty, what’s a hashtag?


No reason.

Did you-?


Pal made me, Shorty. I wanted ta head back ta muck the stable. Genius, here, had ta click on some hearts.

Thought it was like a 1-armed bandit.

Sure. Pays in bitchcoin.

Pays in kind.


Dimensional Kid

“Ain’t seen ya lately, Kid.”

“Couldn’t find my dang boots last week.”

“Yer still edgy over it?”

“Don’t push me, Pal, I’m right close to the edge.”

“I’m sure somethin’ll surface this week.”

“Jest it, I’m confused. A certain someone says an edge is a line segment where two surfaces meet.”

“That sounds sharp, Kid. That straight talk?”

“I dunno, you do the math. See, I been ponderin’ on edges bein’ places, gotten to in round about ways; times or spaces of transition, betwixt and between. Whatdaya think?”

“Ta me it’s neither here nor there.”

“Exactly! A becoming place.”

 #61 (x2)

 Double Trouble

“Shorty sent ya ta town?”

“Yep, said she needed ink.”

“Hope she also told ya not to talk ta strangers, ta stay on the trail, ta not take magic beans nor wooden nickels in trade.”

“Fairytale funny, Pal. I’m smarter than ya think.”

“Ya went ta the General Store I hope.”

“Well, I was headed there but there was this guy on the corner.”


“Who had some good deals on ink cartridges. Only slightly damaged. From fallin’ off his cousin’s wagon.”

“What’d he look like?”

“Dunno. He stayed in the shadows. Spoke with an accent. Offered good deals.”


“Kid, that was Nanjo! Tell me ya didn’t git ink from Nanjo.”

“I didn’t git ink from Nanjo. Got this.”

“A bucket? You bought ink by the bucketful?”

“No, Pal. They’s squids in there.”

“You got squid, Kid?”

“Yeah. Feller said we’d never run outta ink if we had us some squid. Squirts ink if ya scare ‘em.”

“I’m gonna scare the ink outta you, Kid.”

“Squid. Jeez Pal, yer color’s changin’. Like a squid.”

“We cain’t be keepin’ squid on the ranch!”

“Pal, who’s Amari? Guy said, call Amari ta git rid of squid.”

“That’s calamari, Kid.”




“Kid ya kin sure shovel it. Barn looks good.”

“Yep, shovelin’ manure’s a winter chore I got talent for.”

“Kid, ever think about goin’ on vacation, mebbe travel?”

“Uh-uh. Leave the ranch? There’s lots goin’ on here. This is the place ta be.”

“Hmmph. Ain’t snow an’ cold Down Under.”

“Still thinkin’ ‘bout trippin’ down there?”

“Nah, best keep an eye on ya here at the ranch. B‘sides, thet snow sure is purty.”




“Where’d all the shit from the barn go, anyway?”



“Piled higher an’ deeper.”

“But where?”

“Spring’s comin’. All will be revealed.”


Elemental Problem

“Hey Kid.”

“Hey Pal. Got a copper?”

“Ya mean sheriff?”

“No, copper.”

“Ya mean like a penny?”

“No, ah, heck Pal, I may have ta cop out on this round-up. I don’t know nuthin’ about copper or copper country.”

“Gonna cop a plea of ignorance, Kid?”

“Yep. Anyway, the hosses’ve left some gems for me ta shovel. They’s all shut up in the barn what with all the snow.”

“That’ll test yer mettle.”

“Yeah, I’ve shoveled so much shit I should git a medal.”

“So whyn’t ya try shoveling some regarding the shiny orange metal?”

“We’ll see.”

“Cu later.”


Stock In Trade

“Seriously, Pal, don’tcha think that D. Avery’s usin’ us?”

“S’pose, but what d’ya want? I mean we’re ranch hands and rodeo bums. We got a steady gig here.”

“Yeah, but still. Puttin’ words in our mouths…”

“Kid, she’s more afraid a you than you are a her.”

“Ya think?”

“Sure. I mean she has us do the talkin’, but that jest means she’s chicken.”

“Heard she used to use chickens in the same way. It ain’t right.”

“Lighten up Kid. Like I say, what else would ya be doin’?”

“This is a good gig, Pal.”

“Happy New Year, Kid.”


Taking Stock

“Here we are, Kid. 2018. Hard ta believe we didn’t even exist this time last year.”

“Yep. Never thought I’d be thought up on a writin’ ranch. But ain’tcha worried we might a become stock characters, Pal?”

“Ain’t that a good thing? On a ranch an’ all?”

“Prob’ly. Pal, do you have a W.I.P.?”

“Ya mean like a bullwhip? I s’pose I do, or I could, what with bein’ a stock character an’ all.”

“No, a W.I.P., a work in progress.”

“Seems like that’s somethin’ could whup ya, Kid.”

“Yep. We got it purty good. Written’s easier ‘an writin’.”


Broken Dreams

“Kid! Found ya. Ya weren’t in the bunkhouse.”
“Cain’tcha see I’m lyin’ out here in my sleepin’ bag enjoyin’ the stars? Jeez, Pal.”
“Really. An’ mebbe I’m even wishin’ on a star.”
“Kid, ya cain’t jest be wishin’ an’ dreamin’. Ya gotta git up an’do! I swear ya ain’t never gonna amount ta nuthin’, jest layin’ aroun’ wishin’ at stars. Git up Kid. Make yer dream happen!”
“I had done achieved it, Pal, till jest now.”
“Yep. I had wished ta lay out here enjoyin’ the stars in peace an’ quiet. Now I’m wishin’ ya’d go away.”


Shorty’s Blues?

“Pal, ya ever hear about Shorty bein’ a country singin’ star?”


“Think it’s true?”

“Dunno. Don’tcha have ta qualify? Like ya gotta have ‘sperienced yer truck breakin’ down, yer dog dyin’, deferred dreams, an’ general pain an’ heart ache an’ such as life hands ya.”

“Oh. Well Shorty’s got a beautiful blue-skied ranch, the best rodeo on the bloggin’ circuit, an dreams abloomin’ like cactus.”

“An’ us! She’s got a fine bunch a ranch hands.”

“Yep. Reckon she ain’t got the right name for singin’ stardom anyway. “Shorty” ’s kinda runna the mill.”

“Spins a good yarn though.”



Helleborus niger

“Hey, Kid, I see yer saddlin’ up.”

“Yep, Shorty’s got us on another roundup.”

“What direction ya headin’?”

“Don’t rightly know, Pal. Headin’ for the border, not sure which one.”

“I reckon you’ll head north. Don’t fergit ta git white flowers.”

“That dang Shorty. White flowers. In winter. Bloomin’ hell.”

“That’s it Kid! Hellebores. Christmas Rose.”

“Oh, yeah, Pal. Blooms in winter.”

“See, Kid. The darkest day is past. Ya’ve rode through a seasonal borderland. There’ll be snow an’ cold yet, but there’s always somethin’ bloomin’, somethin’ ta be picked.”

“Thanks, Pal. Feelin’ lighter already.”

“Yer hoss’ll ‘preciate that.”


Matters of Fact

“Those flashes are killer.”

“Yep. Thrillin’.”



“Pal, should we be afraid of those writers?”

“No, Kid, I don’t think so.”

“Should we be afraid for them?”

“No, they’re all write.”

“Some a what they wrote was disturbin’ ta me.”

“They jist went where the prompt led, Kid. It’s jist fiction is all it is.”

“Yer scared too Pal.”

“There’s a chill in the air is all. Kid, it’s jist fiction, relax.”

“Uh huh. Fiction. Or alternative facts?”

“Fact is Kid, it’s late. Shut yer pie-hole an’ sleep.”

“I’m scared Pal.”

“Of these flashes?”

“Jist the facts.”


 Only At Carrot Ranch

“What’s up Kid? Looks like yer all tied up.”

“Jist shush, an’ hep me get untangled.”

“What’re you doin’?”

“Tryin’ out some fancy knots.”

“Not so fancy. Not even knots, Kid. Why are ya tryin’ out these buckaroo skills?”

“Shorty said-“

“Did ya follow the thread of Shorty’s prompt, Kid? Pick up yer own lines ta braid yer own story. Shorty’ll git ‘em all wove together after.”

“Go where the prompt leads?”

“Yep, but let it lead ya ta a familiar place Kid, a place ya know. Hey, where ya headed?”

“Cook house, gonna git ta know some bacon.”


Still Buckin’ Around

“Ya seen the bull ridin’ results?”

“Sure have Kid. I tell ya, ever’ single bull rider can stand tall.”

“Well, they have ta stand, Pal, their butts are still too sore ta sit.”

“Jeez, Kid.”

“Hey Pal, is it true these contestants had ta write their entries with a bull pen?”

“Could be, they was some rules, all right, like it had ta be fiction, no facts.”

“Makes sense, Pal. Rodeo writing should be spur-ious.”

“Hey Kid, didya git that scratch from bull ridin’?”

“Nope, from the other ranch sport.”

“What’s that?”

“Fencin’. I actually scratched myself again fencin’, same spot.”

“Guess that’s a barbed re-mark.”

“Jeez, Pal. I’d jist like to remark on a fine contest with so many strong riders.”

“Yep, congratulations to all who rode.”



Viva la Diva

 “Told ya Pal.”

“Told me what?”

“All the world’s a stage.”

“Yep, s’ppose so. Hey, do you dance, Kid?”

“Jist the can’t-can’t. I hope Shorty ain’t plannin’ some sorta ballet here at Carrot Ranch.”

“Naw, her dancin’ lessons are of the 99 word variety.”

“Gotta tell ya, Shorty’s a tough act ta follow. Such strong performances every week.”

“Yep, Shorty’s writin’s a gift.”

“Pal, ta say that diminishes the fact that Shorty’s sharpened her skills an’ honed her craft through perseverance an’ hard work.”

“Kid, I meant Shorty’s writin’s a gift ta all us.”

“Oh. Now I’m readin’ ya.”


Highly Sought 

“Hey, Shorty, where’s Aussie at?”

“Aussie’s out standing in her field.”

“I know she’s outstanding in her field, Shorty, she’s a helluva educative wrangler. But where is she?”

“Out standing in her field.”

“I know… she’s highly sought after.”

“Oh, she’s highly sot after a couple a ciders, but jist now she’s out standing. In her field.”

“Dang, Shorty, I know all ready. Whyn’t you jes’ tell me where Aussie’s at?”

“Easy, Kid, I am tryin’ to tell ya that she is standing. Out in her field yonder.”

“Oh. Well shouldn’t we hep her in? ‘Afore she gits pasture-ized?”


Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

“Hey Kid, ya ever twitter flashed?”

“Kinda personal Pal, askin’ if’n I ever flashed my twitters.”

“No, Kid, ya ever tweeted?”

“Ever’one tweets, Pal, but some of us try’n be discreet about it.”

“No, Kid, I mean like all that hashtag business.”

“What’re ya sayin’, Pal? Did ya slip a tweet an’ acciden’ly leave a hashtag? No wunder ya sit tall in the saddle.”

“Jeez Kid. I mean Twitter, ya know that so-shall media thing that folks ‘r doin’. An’ now some a the hands been writin’ flash on it, even D. Avery. Where she at?”

“She-at, she’s dumbfounded.”

“Hey, Kid, be nice. Anyhow, I don’t find her soo dumb.”

“Pal, she’s jist not sure what ta say ‘bout all this.”

“Well ya’d think she’d thank the judges fer their great idea fer a contest and fer their time an’ all sortin’ through all them fine entries.”

“Yeah, ya’d think she’d thank ‘em, an’ take her hat off ta ever’one that tooted.”

“Tweeted, Kid, tweeted.”

“Right. #thanks ever’one. Yer very tweet.”


With a Little Hep

“Hey, Pal, you oughtta join my self-heppin’-advocatin’-together group; S.H.A.T.”

“Ain’t bein’ no part a yer SHAT group. What the shat you on about anyway?”

“What Shorty said. Self-hep.”

“Shorty said self-care, so I reckon it’s S.C.A.T., an’ I’m hopin’ ya do.”

“Testy… You need a stage coach.”


“Yeah, stage coach. Ta hep ya git through all yer rough stages in life. Talk ya through the prickly patches.”

“I swear, Kid, sometimes I’d like ta put you on a stage, send ya back where ever ya come from.”

“All the world’s a stage, Pal, ya oughtta try’n play nice.”


Five A Day

“Why ya grimacin’ Kid?”

“I’m smilin’. They say smilin’ can change yer mindset. But I tell ya, Pal, I’m strugglin’ with Shorty’s 5 a day prompt.”

“So keep smilin’. Five times a day.”

“Hmm. Five laughs a day would be good an’ good for ya.”

“Seriously! Contagious giggles, love those, almost as much as a real good belly laugh.”

“Gotta be in the right company fer those. How ‘bout laughin’ aloud at yerself fer doin’ somethin’ stupid, or even fer doin’ somethin’ right?”

“Yeah. I also like the ‘Ha!’ of revelation and recognition.”

“Five laughs a day then. Ha!”



“Whatcha got there, Kid?”


“Lemme guess. Got yerself a mess a bacon.”

“Nope, I got carrots.”

“An’ yer gonna roast ‘em, wrapped in bacon.”

“Nope. Jes’ carrots.”

“Oh, boy, here we go. Let’s hear it then.”


“The whinin’ an’ lamentin’ about the dearth of bacon here at the ranch.”


“Dearth, Kid, lack, scarcity.”

“Well, Pal, there is no scarcity. D’ Earth provides. Look at these beautiful carrots I pulled from d’ earth. Here, I’m giving you some.”

“Uh, thanks.”

“Yep, I’m givin’ thanks. I’m thankful fer ever’one at the ranch, an’ fer Shorty’s raw carrots.”


The Porch Between

“Kid, why you got them tools and that mesh screenin’?”

“Feelin’ like doin’ somethin’ nice for Shorty, gonna screen in the front porch where ever’one sets ‘n tells stories.”


“Ta keep mosquitos ‘n such from botherin’ us.”

“Ya could, an’ this bein’ fiction an’ all you might even do a real fine job.”


“But Kid, this bein’ fiction an’ all, we can jes’ say we ain’t got skeeters.”

“That a fact?”

“Yep. ‘Cause this’s fictional.”

“Like alternate facts?”


“So no skeeters.”

“And an unimpeded view from Shorty’s porch.”

“Things look good from here.”

“That’s a fact.”


 What’s Cookin’?

“Kid, why’re you rippin’ through Shorty’s chuck wagon?”

I’m heppin’. Shorty’s been on about food an’ recipes. Wanna see what can be cooked up here at Carrot Ranch.”


“Here’s some piecrust… an’ some berries… Remember those prompts? Jeez, there’s plenty a carrots, carrots all over the place. Keep findin’ cider too, empty bottles anyways…”

“Ya’d think there’d be longhorn steaks. Sayin’.”

“Ya’d think there’d be bacon, that’s what I been sayin’.”

“Kid, the wranglers’ve cooked up mighty fine stories even if they don’t bring home much bacon.”

“Yep. Comforting, hearty, delectable stories. An’ ever’thin’s better with bacon. Sayin’.”


Get It Write

“Kid, what are you doin’?”

“Settin’ up croquet wickets.”

“Croquet? Why?”

“Well, we got lots a folks comin’ by the ranch these days, an I reckon they’ll be lookin’ fer somethin’ ta do, what with the rodeo packin’ up.”


“Yeah, croquet. A good, relaxin’ activity. Fer the folks comin’ by the ranch.”

“Did ya git bucked, Kid, bump yer head?”

“Shorty mentioned somethin’ ‘bout croquet on the ranch.”

“She mentioned crochet, but-”

“Oh yeah, yer right Pal. Crochet and crafting. Well, that’s fine. We can all set on the porch and stitch.”

“Think you dropped a stitch, Kid.”


Tuff Stuff     FFR#8

 Free write:

wow, wicked cool amazing fine piece ofprompt that Charli holy cow patty but some tuff task ahead omg

9 words:

Kid run off, tail betwixt legs, fumbling for excuses.

59 words:

“Kid, git yer sorry ass back here and saddle up. You’ll percolate this here idea an’ you’ll git somethin’ on paper, gol nabbit.”

“Gol nabbit? Really, Pal?”

“Shush Kid, that’s a stall tactic.”

“Yeah, I gotta clean out the stalls, they’s full o’ shit.”

“So’re you. Shorty’d ruther you muck yer writin’ than muck the stalls.”

“Aw, muck, ok.”

Word Orders (99 words):

“Ya know we’re outta order don’tcha Kid?”

“Whatcha mean, Shorty?”

“I mean, after the free write there’s s’posed to be a 99 word flash, then the 59 word flash, an’ then the 9 word flash, an’-”

“-An’ then what? How low can ya go?”

“Not goin’ low, jist boilin’ down, distillin’, if ya will. An’ then let that concentrate bubble up inta 599 words.”

“Yer a regular mathemagician. S’pose yer gonna tell me it’s all gonna foment inta some sorta elixir too. Feelin’ lost with this un, Shorty.”

“Ride Kid. Jist give the horse its head and hang on.”

599 words:

Nobody’d heard of the Kid, didn’t know where the Kid even came from, or how the Kid ended up in the mythical west on a mystical word ranch. Sometimes things happen. Just like that.

And let it be known, lest you think the Kid is a legend in her own mind, this story doesn’t belong just to The Kid, but also to a kid, some kids, any kid, even to you kids. See, the ranch is for all, a community.

“I thought it was commutative. You know, ‘cause folks come and go.”

“I think yer thinkin’ about commuting, Kid. Commutative’s a math word.”

“Well, Shorty’s put a lot of math to us lately, ain’t she?”, grumbled the Kid.

“This ain’t our usual bit, Kid, so keep yer pie-hole shut.”

The Kid did get quiet then, just like that, which isn’t at all like what usually happens, but perhaps the stifled chatter will allow a story to unfold.

You see the Kid was hanging around the ranch one day, when came the call in the form of a clanging triangle, summoning the hands to the chuck wagon. Always glad to have carrots yet hoping for bacon, the Kid rushed to see what Shorty had cooked up, wondering if she might ever consider roasting carrots wrapped in bacon.

“Quit yer salivatin’, Kid, cain’t ya see Shorty ain’t got no food cookin’?”

“Hasn’t got any.”

“Ain’t got any what?”

“Food cooking.”

“That’s what I said. Don’t go transformin’ yer hyperbolic mythical western dialect on me now, Kid.”

“I had a run-in with a hyper bullock b’fore.”

“Shush, Kid.”

Shorty lay down her triangle and looked squarely at the hands circled around her.

“Hee hee, more math snuck in there.”

“Kid, I’m tellin’ ya, shush up.”

“Prob’ly gonna serve pi. Ouch! All right, Pal, I’ll stop.”

Shorty addressed the ranch hands. “Ranch Hands”, she said, “There’s a bunch a stray stories out in them thar hills.”

“We know, Shorty”, the hands responded. “We been there b’fore, rounded up navels, pie crusts, dawn, spells, even longhorns.”

“This’s bigger.” And with that, a few hands quietly slipped away. Which is okay, we are not to judge them, not here. The Kid did not slip away, but, truth be told, when Shorty said ‘this’s bigger’, the Kid heard ‘elixir’ which she assumed meant cider.

“There’s a bandit out there, been…”

Kid didn’t hear the rest, the Kid was focused on “bandit” and immediately was off in her head remembering raccoons, missing most everything that Shorty said, tuning in just at the last. “An’ so, someone to take down Nanjo is what I need.”

Now, as you may or may not know, the Kid had been looking for an excuse to round up nuisance raccoons and so assured Shorty that she would be happy to ride out, even with a banjo on her knee.

“If you say so Boss, must be fer this whole twang thing, pluck yeah. Come on, Pal, saddle up.”

“No, Kid”, Shorty said. “Ya gotta ride this one alone. We think Nanjo is hidin’ out in Choco Carmel Canyon. It’s deep and steep and riddled with caves. Be careful Kid.”

Well, to make a long story short, that is to fit the word limit without too much revision, Nanjo was not caught, and no raccoons were harmed in the writing of this story. But also know that the Kid rode off and rode back, transformed. After a brief ritualistic self flagellation in the Cave of Doubt the Kid trusted in her imagination and let that old horse have its head. Just like that.


Posse-bull Spam

“Come on Pal, saddle up. We’re formin’ a posse.”

“That might be posse-ble, Kid. Why, what’s goin’ on?”

“You know Nanjo?”

“No know.”

“No, Nanjo.”

“What’s a Nanjo?”

“An unsavory character, known for bad spellin’ an’ smelly vagrance. Thinkin’ he’s holed up in a gilch aroun’ here. I don’t trust this character, I’m gonna kill ‘im.”

“Ya cain’t jest head off an’ kill another character.”

“With this event challenge I can, an’ there’s this whole western theme, an’ I’m an American with the write to bear arms.”

“I don’t like it, Kid. Let’s arm bears instead. Let them have at Nanjo.”

“Hmm… we could set CJ’s raccoons after him.”


Night Musings    FFR#7

“Would you stop that infernal pacin’ an’ jist git some shuteye!”

“I don’t like this Pal, it ain’t right. This here is a nice safe community, ever’one says so. Folks gotta feel safe here. No, this ain’t right.”

“Jeez, Kid! Yer mutterin’ an’ pacin’ is keepin’ me from my much needed rest. What in the blazes are you on about now?”




“I already regret this, but Kid, what’re you talkin’ about?”

“This latest rodeo event, that’s what.”



“The bull ride?”

“No, #7… murder.”

“Kid, it’s just fiction.”

“Fictional lives matter.”

“Kid, there’s seriously gonna be a murder if’n you don’t shush up.”

“G’night Pal.”


9x11x2           FFR#6

“Kid, they’s lots goin’ on, why’re you clownin’ aroun’?”

“Ain’t clownin’, I’m gonna seriously help the bull riders.

Gotta be ready to distract an’ divert them bulls.

An’ Shorty’s pickup rider, she’ll make sure ever’one’s safe.”

“Kid, ya might wanna reconsider this, rodeo clownin’s dangerous.”

“Doin’ it fer the Ranch, fer the bull riders.”

“Kid, yer too green fer clownin’ in the arena.

Though seems you might’ve jumped in a barrel before.

An’ why’re we still talkin’ in nine word sentences?

CJ git ya hooked on that twitterature flash bullshift?”

“I can stop anytime, but CJ’s event’s still open.”

“Kid, we don’t seem finished at 11 x 9.”

“We ain’t gotta be, ‘cause Irene’s challenge’s a double.

Folks got through the 26th to enter her event.”

“Yep, Irene’s until the 26th, and CJ’s the 29th.

It’d behoove ya ta stay out’ve the arena, Kid.

Unless you want a BOTS for the scar challenge.”

“Don’t worry Pal, stop tryin’ to steer me astray.

The riders’ll feel more confident with a clown nearby.

You think it’s my first time at a rodeo?”

“Uh, Kid, I know it’s yer first ever rodeo.”

“Yep, an’ so far it’s my absolute favorite rodeo!”


11 x 9  FFR#5

“What are you doin’, straddlin’ that roped up barrel?”

“Ain’t no barrel Pal, it’s a wild buckin’ bull.”

“Ain’t so sure yer barrel ain’t been tapped, Kid.”

“Mebbe, an’ why’re we speakin’ in 9 word sentences?”

“Aw, it’s CJ, she gits weird ideas about flash.”

“Been a bit tapped herself since the ‘coon invasions.”

“Yep. These so-called writers is really jest sleep deprivits.”

“You jist made up a noun for sleep-deprived people.”

“Yep, an’ you ain’t said much about that barrel.”

“Bull ridin’s comin’ soon to a ranch near you.”

“Fun jest doesn’t slow down with this here rodeo.”


 Inscription         FFR#4

“Hey, Shorty. What’s up? Besides the rodeo, I mean.”

“I been busy, what with rodeoin’, ranchin’, wranglin’ an’ ropin’, an’ ridin’ herd on some other projects.”

“So what brings ya by?”

“Kid’s been kinda scarce. Ya know anythin’ Pal?”



“Kid’s been hangin’ out back East agin. Got some sort a rodeo goin’ on there by the sounds a things. Or did the Kid call it a three-ring circus? Either way they’s been a bunch a jugglin’ goin’ on and balancin’ acts an’ such. Kid claims to be workin’ at tamin’ wild uns, kid-whisperin’ even.”



“The Kid’s workin’ with kids, yer talkin’ ‘bout?”

“Yep. Math.

“Go figger.

“Kid says they’s some real fine stock, full a potential, but some’s jest plain scared and confused.”

“ ‘Bout math?”

“Life. Scary present, uncertain future. An’ some’s already scarred by their pasts, carryin’ buckets full a loss an’ grief. Kids ain’t goin’ over the river an’ through the woods to granma’s anymore. Granma’s raisin’ ‘em.”

“That’s a tough equation, Pal.”

“Yep. But scars don’t have ta equal disability. Kid’s hopin’ these school kids’ll someday know their scars as an inscription that tells a story of healin’ an’ resilience.”


Septolet     FFR#3

“Hey Pal, listen ta this, it’s about all the activity and challenge of the rodeo:

hard riding

flying spurs

fast furious

pitching bucking

breathless whirlwind

scrambling buckaroos

riding hard

It’s a septolet.”

“Ain’t that for bull fights, ya know, the guy with the cape? Septolet!”

“Hey, Pal yer ignorance is showin’. Try’n show some class, there’s visitors aroun’ these days.”

“Jeez Kid. You cain’t be funny an’ ya cain’t take a joke. I hope this poetry thing don’t make everone all serious and cantankerous like you.

Serious Kid

Boo hoo

Who you

Busy busy

Another day

A septolet

Lighten up

There’s my septolet, Kid.”

“That’s not funny, Pal. Yer s’posed to play nice here. That’s the charm of Carrot Ranch.”

“Jest tryin’ to prompt you out of bind, Kid. Yer all bound up, I know yer still thinkin’ about makin’ Pardner laugh.”

“Pardner? Yer my pardner.”

“No, Le Pard. And his pardners.”

“No, I ain’t thinkin’ ‘bout that. I don’t want to be funny, so Ha!”

Bull. Kid

cain’t write

no more

needs grimoire

break spell

oh hell

another septolet.”

 “Pal, you are an insult to a beautiful poetic form. This is a serious challenge and a dang cool prompt.”

“I know Kid, I was jest funnin’ with ya. Jules done herself proud with this one. Hope she don’t mind our messin’.”


200 Shy   FFR#2

“Hey, Pal, what’s funny?”

“I ain’t laughin’, Kid.”

“I know. But what’s funny?”


“Yes, seriously, what’s funny? ‘Cause the more I think on it, nuthin’ seems funny. ”

“Jest consider yer audience.”


“That’s easy. They laugh at men dressed up as dowdy women.”

“Really? Why?”

“Kid, I don’t wanna know.”

“What else?”

“They’ll laugh at innuendo, if ya know what I mean.”

“Uh, no, what do ya mean?”

“You know, talk about, you know, but don’t actually say anything, you know?”

“No, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Jeez, this humor challenge is no laughing matter.”


Rodeo Contest # 1

“Hey Pal. Aussie and Shorty sure are busy, huh?”


“Gittin’ everthin’ figgered out though, that’s good.”


“Pal, did ya ever imagine when you were six that you were gonna be a ranch hand?”

“Kid, I ain’t so sure I ever was six.”

“That’s a shame. Six is when ya think about bein’ an becomin’. Practicin’ an tryin’ things out, growin’ yer own future self, like.”

“Maybe I am six, and have been forever. I cain’t imagine imaginin’ anything better than me here.”

“Does it feel right?”

“I imagine it does.”

“Well then, you’re right where you are.”



Well Maybe

 “You enterin’ any a the contests, Kid?”

“Nope, gonna jest enjoy the spectacle.”

“But ain’tcha jest itchin’ to git in the saddle?”

“Well, yeah. But I done told you, I’m busy. Jest gonna watch.”

“You know Kid, seems like yer pretty good about doin’ what ya say you’ll do. But it also seems like ya ain’t very good about not doin’ what ya say ya ain’t gonna do.”

“Ain’t ridin’ this one.”

“Uh huh. Then let’s go harvest us a drink.”

“Ain’t drinkin’.”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, maybe jest one.”

“Jest one, Kid, while we check out the rodeo events.”


Bullshift Kid


“Dang straight.”

“Shorty heard you were back.”

“Shorty herds words. Course I’m back. Wouldn’t miss the rodeo for nuthin’.”

“Well, come on. Let’s saddle up, Kid, do some ropin’ an’ wranglin’.”

“Cain’t. Busy.”


“But I got too much to do now I’m back. I gotta corral the bulls and check the chute for the Buckin’ Bull Go-Roun’.”

“Aw, come on, Kid, that’s a ways away.”

“An’ I gotta help harvest carrots, make sure theys harvested for the rodeo crowd. You go on without me.”

“Nah. Reckon I’ll have ta look after you.”

“Write on, Pal, write on.”



“Got a letter from the Kid.”

“Read it.”


Dear Ranch Hands, I’ve missed yawl and the ranch. Wanna be wranglin’; ridin’, ropin’ an’ corrallin’ words with ever’ one. See, I thought I needed to make time fer makin’ bacon, but I’m figgerin’ somethin’ out. The only way to beat a tide is to not try an’ swim against it. There’s always gonna be strays an’ loose ends in all our lives. Where better than the ranch to learn how to lasso that? Besides, there’s a rodeo! I’ll be catchin’ a train back west soon’s I can. Kid’”


 Missing Kid

“Hey Aussie.”

“G’day. Yer writin’ me in again… Kid still away?”

“Yep. Kid got pulled away and I’m adrift. Used ta mulling things over with the Kid.”

“Well I’m currently busy. Maybe you should talk with Still Waters.”

“Still Waters? That some sorta Tonto-type sidekick character?”

“She’s no sidekick. Still Waters, the other wonder from down under, she drives her own buckboard, if ya know what I mean. She runs deep.”

“Sure does. I remember her from times past.”

“Or you could go see Anecdotist.”

“The analytical undertow scares me.”

“Chicken. Get out from underneath your malaise. Go write!”


Right Proud

 “Dang, the Kid is missing out on all the excitement.”

“Who ya talkin’ to?”

“Oh, hey Aussie. Talkin’ ta myself. Been doin’ that since the Kid went back east. Did ya see all a Shorty’s doin’s?”

“I sure did! I am so pleased for Shorty.”

“Yep, Shorty’s done herself right proud.”

“I expect there’ll be a crowd ridin’ through, checkin’ out the ranch, gettin’ ready for the rodeo.”

“Reckon so, Aussie. It’s gonna be somethin’. I’m jest worried ‘bout there bein’ enough carrots to go around.”

“Sometimes you’re as green as the Kid. There’s always carrots, carrots for all.”


Dang Busy


“Huh? Oh, hey. Wasn’t expecting to see you. What with the Kid gone.”

“That’s nuthin’ ta me. I jist narrate.”

“Yeah, right.”

“So, whatcha up to, Shorty? Looks like you ain’t doin’ nothin’. ”

“Correct. I am not doing nothing, I’m doing something.”

“Oh. Watcha doin’? ‘Cause it looks like daydreamin’.”


“Shorty, ain’t that nothin’?”

“Nope. I’m writin’. And I’m plannin’ for the rodeo that’s comin’ through the ranch.”

“A rodeo? At Carrot Ranch?”

“Yep. Eight events. Eight prizes.”

“Yeehaw, Shorty! For real?!”

“Yep. You can’t make this stuff up.”

“Well you sure dreamed it up.”



Back East

“Shorty, is it true?”

“Yep. Gonna be quieter ‘round here. The Kid headed back East after all.”

“What? The Kid seemed happy here.”

“The Kid was happy here. Believe you me, the Kid didn’t wanna go. Even mentioned not wantin’ to leave you.”

“Aw, shucks. So why’n tarnation? Saddle sore? Too much wranglin’?”

“Naw, the Kid was willin’ ta ride the range all day, you know that.”

“Was it the food, Shorty?”

“Heck no. The Kid thrives on what’s dished out here. Did say somethin’ ‘bout bein’ busy, havin’ ta bring home the bacon.”

“Oh. That takes time.”




“Kid, thought you was s’posed ta be off makin’ bacon or some such thing. “

“Cain’t I set a spell?”

“Course. Anyone’s welcome ta set a spell at Carrot Ranch. Well, Kid, if ya ain’t wanderin’, ya must be wonderin’.”

“Yep. Kinda excited ‘bout Shorty’s rodeo. Gonna be fun, Pal.”

“Sure is. I can see it too, Kid. Riders bringin’ their wild, buckin’ prompts to a lathered walkin’ gait.”

“Ropin’ competitions, gittin’ words all wrapped up into a story in record time.”

“Maybe barrel races…steer wrestlin’. Might be rodeo clowns.”

“For the bull ridin’!”

“Hang onta yer hats folks.”


Opine Range

“Whatcha thinkin’, Kid?”

“Nothin’. It’s a pretty open ranch, though, ain’t it?”

“Yep. Fairly free range. Why ya askin’?”

“Shorty left a note. She’s gone to town agin, says here she’s gone to pick up some broads.”

“Huh. You uncomfortable with that, Kid?”

“Well, yeah, no, but… What?”

“Kid, put it in context. Shorty ain’t the greatest speller, ya know. She ain’t likely pickin’ up broads, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Most likely she’s  gittin’ boards at the lumberyard.”

“Shain’t a ferry?”

“Jist same ol’ Shorty. Gatherin’ materials to build up the ranch.”

“Nothin’ wrong with that.”


Ranch Hideout

“Thought you’d disappeared, Kid.”

“Did disappear.”

“But here ya are.”

“So I ain’t somewheres else… gone! Far as folks back east are concerned, I done disappeared. If here, not there.”

“There ya go agin.”

“No, here I go. I’m here, so cain’t be there.”

“Well, it’s neither here nor there to me. Ya ready to ride?”

“Yawl go on without me.”

“Yer not tryin’ to escape yer wranglin’ are ya?”

“Wranglin’ is my escape. But they’s lookin’ fer me back east. Jist know if I ain’t aroun’ here, I’m there.”

“You’ll ride.”

“Maybe. But they’s ridin’ me.”

“So escape.”


Still Water

“Lose somethin’ Kid?”
“Jest reflectin’ at this reflectin’ pool.”
“Kid, I swear, you are greener than frog spit. This ain’t no reflectin’ pool. It’s just a stock pond.”
“I can see myself, so it’s a reflectin’ pool. Look, you’ll see yerself too.”
“Oh yeah… hey Kid, it’s deep.”
“Yep. Shorty oughta call her place Reflection Ranch. People can come here an’, you know…”
“I reckon they already do. Been some mighty deep conversations goin’ on.”
“Yep, they ain’t been shallow. I’ve had some a my thoughts provoked ‘round here.”
“In a good way?”
“In the best way.”



“Where you headed?”

“Goin’ to round ‘em all up. Get ‘em corralled. Maybe herd ‘em right off the ranch.”

“Oh, Jeez, what are you on about?”

“Cats! Cats are over runnin’ the ranch. I swear there’s more of them than us.”

“Yep, they’s lots, real diverse, all colors and stripes. I like havin’ ‘em around.”

“Well Shorty says to round ‘em up. Let’s go.”

“No, Shorty says we should pick ‘em up. Not round ‘em up. Just pick one up.”

“Which one?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Which color?”

“Just pick one up.”



“Shh. Listen to this beautiful cat purring.”


Trouble Down Under

“Hey Kid, what’s up?”

“Hey. Yunno, I been havin’ a lot of trouble with this berry thing. Cain’t find much of anything nowheres.”

“Didja ask around at all?”

“Naw, but I did bump into Aussie.”


“Is a dingo berry somethin’ that dingoes eat? You know those coyote like dogs down there where she’s from?”

“That what Aussie said?”

“She mentioned dingo berries. I was afraid to ask.”

“Afraid of Aussie?”

“Well, she’s so smart an’ all.”

“Oh, she’s smart all right. Sassy too, I’m thinkin’, talkin’ dingo berries in mixed company.”

“Jeez, it’s just a berry.”

“Where’s Aussie?!”


Plum Crazy

“Is Shorty plum crazy? What’s she want us gathering buffalo chips for? That what she uses fer charcoal?”

“No, Kid, she wants berries. So let’s go git some buffalo berries.”

“Hmph, buffalo berries. Shorty makin’ pies agin? I reckon with buffalo berries it’ll be like a cow pie.”

“They’re not chips.”

“Hey, while we’re at it, let’s git some horse muffins too.”

“Kid, will you ever stop fiddlin’ around?”

“Heck no. Shorty wants music too, so I’ll jest keep on fiddlin’, thank you berry much.”

“I hope Shorty is plannin’ on fermentin’ some of these berries.”

“Yep, wine not?”


Free Range

“What’sa matter Kid?”

“Look at Shorty’s new sign over the gate. Use’ta jest say Carrot Ranch. Now it also says ‘literary community’.”


“Well? Is it a ranch or a literary community?”

“Cain’t it be both Kid?”

“I jest wanna ride the range, wrangle some words now an’ agin.”

“But ya generally begin an’ end here at the ranch. Where they’s other wranglers; an’ readers… you know, a community.”

“I ain’t the communal type. I’m free range.”

“Ah, Kid, come on in outta the cold. There’s bacon cookin’.”

“This community has bacon?!”

“And raw carrots.”

“For me?”

“For all.”


Sound Track

“I love it here.”

“What do love about it, Kid?”

“Well, until you showed up jest now, flappin’ yer pie-hole, I was jest lovin’ the sounds. Listen… Hear that? Far off ya can already hear the clopping footsteps of some rider bringin’ one in. Soon ya’ll be hearin’ the easy lowing of the new herd in the corral. And from up by the bunkhouse friendly laughin’ and talkin’. And, ya hear that? Best sound of all. Bangin’ pots and pans, ringin’ out with the promise of vittles. Shorty’s fixin’ to cook. Cookin’ up somethin’ special.”

“I hear that!”


Ganderin’ on the Veranda

“What ya been up to Kid, ain’t seen ya ‘round.”

“Been readin’. But I ain’t left the ranch. This is a bigger spread than I knew, lots to see.”

“Find anything innerestin’?”

“Yep, plenty. Ya know, Shorty is one bold buckaroo and an honest hombre.”

“Kid, Shorty cain’t be an hombre. Hombre means man.”

“Well, I ain’t so affluent as you in my Portageez.”

“That’s Spanish, Kid.”

“Oh. Huh. Hey, what’s for dinner anyway?”

“Shorty’s cookin’ up sumpin’ special for ya. Enchiladas.”

“Oh yay. I love Portageez food.”

“That’s Spanish, Kid.”

“Oh. Well maybe the Portageez enchilada has bacon.”


Mother Lode

“Shorty’s got rocks in her head.”

“Yep, it’s become purty obvious. Goin’ on an on ‘bout rocks all the time. Rocks in her head, alright, and in her pockets, in her saddlebags. She’s always gatherin’, seems like.”

“Our tumbleweed’s become a rock tumbler.”

“That phrase weren’t too smooth, Kid.”

“Well, I’m in a hurry, itchin’ to do some minin’ of my own. There’s 24 carrot gold in these here hills.”

“Jest remember, Kid, glitter ain’t always gold. Me, I’m jest gonna ride under the crystalline sky, enjoy a gem of a day.”

“That’s minin’ too.”

“Yep, Kid, it is.”


Carrot Pie

“Shorty in the cookhouse?”

“Nope, at her chuck wagon.”


“No, she ain’t goin’ anywhere, just cookin’ at the ol’ wagon. She does love the great outdoors.”

“Well I’ve got the flour she asked for. And butter. What the heck she up to now?”

“Wants to make pies. Specifically, piecrust.”

“Oh-oh. That can be tricky.”


“Why is she so het up on piecrust?”

“Well, we always wrangle words to fill Shorty’s safe, sturdy corral. This week she just wants us to bring some tasty pie filling to the chuck wagon.”

“Sounds homey. Raw filling ok?”

“Yep. Raw’s ok.”


Chicken Scratch

“Aw, fricassee! I ain’t never seen chickens ‘round the ranch before. We gonna have to herd them too?”

“If Shorty says.”

“Chicken’d go nice with carrots.”

“I doubt the chickens end up in the pot. She already thinks they’s ladies in petticoats for gosh sakes.”


“Wouldn’t surprise me none if Shorty got ‘em to scratch out 99 words in the dirt for her. They’d scratch out some egg-citing tales, alright.”

“Bah, what stories do chickens have?”

“Some speak of the coop, some the road.”

“Shorty says she’s done crisscrossin’ roads for awhile.”

“Yep. That chicken has landed.”


#11 (x2)

Red Handed

“Kid, what are you doin in there?”

“Nothin’ “

“Well if yer doin’ nothin’, git out. I gotta go.”

“I’m busy.”

“What are you doin?”


“Yer doin somethin’.”

“It ain’t nothin’. Now go away, I’d like some privacy.”

“Oh… You know, Kid, it’s ok, everyone does it.”



“Even you?”

“Yup, since I was knee high to a grasshopper.”

“Did ya worry about someone catchin ya at it?”

“Used to, but now I jist do it when ever and where ever I like. Ta heck with ‘em if they don’t like it.”

“So… you write too.”



“So yer sayin’ everyone does this?”



“Gosh, yes. Can’t help herself. Even likes to do it with friends. Does it real heartfelt.”

“What about CJ?”

“CJ will do it when no one is lookin’ and even when they are.”

“Does Aussie do it?”

“Oh, yeah. You can learn a lot from Aussie. Really gets down under. Does it real meaningful like.”

“Is there a wrong way to do it?”

“No, Kid, that’s the beauty of it. It’s all good. Just do what feels right for you.”

“What will people think, I mean…”

“Ah, Kid, just write already.”


What the Blazes?

“Hey Shorty. That’s a fine fire you got there. Cookin’ somethin’ up? Bacon sure would be nice.”

“No, ain’t cookin’.”

“Oh… Cold?”

“No, I ain’t cold.”

“Oh… Scarin’ away coyotes?”

“No, ain’t seen any sign of coyotes.”

“Shorty, why’n heck you got this here fire blazin’ away if you ain’t cookin’, ain’t cold, and ain’t worried about coyotes?”

“Let’s just say this fire is for anyone who is hungry, or cold, or worried about coyotes. A welcome to set a spell. Share stories.”

“A beckoning beacon.”


“Still, some bacon would be nice.”

“Here, have a carrot.”




De Fence

“Sorry Shorty, I thought it was apple juice. I didn’t get into the fray, just steerin’ the Kid here to the bunkhouse.”

“That’s quite a shiner. What happened, Kid?”

“I showed ‘em, that’s what happened. I said, ‘Shorty ain’t ‘fraid of nothin’ ‘ and I mighta punctuated my meanin’ with a left hook.”

“Your left hook was more of a question mark, Kid, but that was quite the exclamation point you took to the eye. Shorty, I thought the Kid knew they said frayed, not ‘fraid.”

“Oh, it’ll be alright. Kid, sometimes we’re all afraid and frayed.”


“ ’Fraid so.”


Transmission to Transition              

“Kid, you gotta grin a mile long on that face a yours.”

“ ‘Less I’m dreamin’, Shorty’s back!”

“Yep, I saw. She brought us flowers from the prairie, by gosh.”

“She’s been on walkabout.”

“Walkabout? You been talkin’ with Aussie?”

“Well, it has been kind of a vision quest for Shorty, ain’t it?”

“I reckon so. She’s been runnin’ down a dream alright.”

“Well now what?”

“There’s work involved in a dream coming true, Kid.”

“I know. What can we do to help?”

“Shorty will keep us posted. In the mean time, dream along.”

“Dreamin’ big as a prairie sky!”


One Fine Dawn at The Ranch            

“I miss Shorty’s cookin’.”

“Well, Shorty’s busy. You’ll just have to make do.”

“I guess. And I ‘spose things are goin’ along pretty good. That was a first rate round up last week.”

“Yeah, it was Kid. There’re some mighty fine wranglers around here.”

“Shorty’s talkin’ to the bank?”

“Somethin’ like that. She’s gonna make the ranch even better, better for all of us.”

“Will we have our own brand?”

“Somethin’ like that Kid. It’s gonna be quite a spread.”

“But who’s gonna pay, Pal?”

“Was that a hint?”

“Somethin’ like that.”

“Drink yer milk.”

“I miss Shorty’s cookin’.”


Up and At ‘Em!                                      

 “Come on Kid, up and at ‘em.”

“Uhhnn. Where’s Shorty at anyway? I heard she mighta went into town.”

“You heard, you heard. Ever heard of herdin’ cattle?”

“Shorty’s in town, probly playin’ cards, havin’ fun.”

“Hush. Shorty’s busy. And she might be gambling, but it’s a serious game she’s playin’.”

“Anyway, I heard Shorty’s at the rodeo.”

“Well you heard right. She is, and it ain’t her first time neither. This one’s big.”

“With Shorty away, what can we do?”

“We’ll do what we do.”

“Yee haw! Time to play with words.”

“That’s it Kid. Round ‘em up.”


Branding Time        

“Shorty’s boss? I thought Shorty was in charge of the chuckwagon.”

“Shorty’s trail boss too. She knows roundup like no other. She’s the ridin’est, ropin’est wrangler out here on the range.”

“I hear she wants to grow the ranch, expand the brand.”


“In a setting like this, we characters oughtta rob a bank, hold up a train. Git money for the Ranch.“

“Now Kid, Shorty don’t need that kinda trouble. Snap outta character and just hit the paypal button.”

“Yeah, I will. ‘Cause I like the content at this here ranch.”

“Don’t you mean contentment?”

“Yeah, that too.”


Shorty’s Close Shave

“Tell it agin, Shorty.”

“Yeah, tell it agin. Were they rustlers?”

“No, way I heard it, it weren’t rustlers, it was a dude, thinkin’ this was a dude ranch. But Shorty, she ain’t no greenhorn, she saw through, ran ‘em off the ranch.”

“Yeah, Shorty she recognized mechanical bull. Pulled the plug on it.”

“Yee ha! ‘Cause what’s next, astro-turf on the range? That ain’t welcoming.”

“Well, now if ya’ll would pipe down, maybe Shorty could tell it again.

“Yeah. Shorty?”

“I told enough already. Be authentic. Be yourselves. And when you wrangle, don’t get tangled in your rope.”


 Where’s the Beef?                  

“Fifty musta’ made her cantankerous.”

Shorty just smiled. Even as they whined and complained they were checking cinches, adjusting stirrups. Getting ready.

“We’re not all country western singin’ cowgirls!”

“A short piece on longhorns! I’d rather a tall-tale than a longhorn.”

“Are there even any left?”

Shorty finally spoke. “There’re longhorns out there for you to wrangle and round up. Bring one back to the ranch on the hoof; raw, if you will.”

More grumbling but they were already mounted and ranging out. Shorty never used a stick, and knew that the carrot was simply a job raw done.



“Whoa there, Kid.”

“Guess I’m anxious to git ‘em to the Ranch.”

“You’ll git ‘em all there in good shape. Just watch for strays.”

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, Shorty was busy at her chuckwagon. Shorty, who was of great stature, preferred the wagon to the cookhouse, liked to have her wheels ready to roll.

Shorty congratulated and cajoled the hands as they rode in from near and distant ranges. She noted the herd amassing in the corral, some branded, some a bit wild and unpredictable.

Hungry for Shorty’s nourishing comfort food, the hands milled around the chuckwagon.



Grub Stake

“Hey, Pal. Aussie was wonderin’ how to git the stakes up for the ranch.”

“That’s right, Kid.”

“Hey, Pal, what if we had like a contest, where you pay to play. But no judging. Anyone that wrangles is a winner.”

“And if you just come by to read you can pay too?”

“Yeah, I reckon’ anyone could pay. Unless they can’t. Or already did.”

“They probably already did.”

“Did you ante up?”

“I gave some.”

“Some is good, Pal.”

“Kid, my name ain’t Pal.”

“I know.”

“So stop calling me Pal. Or else.”

“What? You’ll make me pay, Pal?”



The sky, sun-blistered blue, was punctuated by patient buzzards. Heat soaked, every rock and bit of sage shimmered, illusory to their uncertain eyes. So when they spotted it they stared, blinking and unsteady, wondering if it were real. They stumbled on.

Sounds of laughter and conversation drew them on. Finally they reeled through the gates. “Please”, they croaked. “We’re parched. Please, give us some words.”

In a flash the ranch hands refreshed them with words, cool and crisp. They gulped thirstily.

“Whoa, now. There’s plenty. Just take 99 at a time.”

“Wha- ?”

“I’m Shorty. Welcome to Carrot Ranch.”

9 thoughts on “Ranch Yarns ’17-’19

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s