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Posts Tagged ‘ranch wife’

I’m not sure if there is anyone left out there after the last ‘skeleton’ post but if there is I will apologize right now because I doubt that this post will be any less rude, crude and socially unacceptable.

 

We have a turkey. 

His name is Thomas. 

And we love him even if he is older than dirt and mean as sin.

I think it comes from living with too many chickens.

Years ago, when our boys were in 4-H they decided they wanted to show turkeys so we went to the local Runnings store and purchased 2 baby turkeys.  Even though we had no idea if they were male or female we named them Thomas and Nadine (yes, it’s true – I named my camper after a turkey).   As fate would have it we did end up with a male and a female and we had even named them correctly.  Unbelievable!

Thomas and Nadine were such cute, fuzzy little critters you just couldn’t help but love them.  Thomas – a Bronze turkey and Nadine – a Bourbon Red, grew into beautiful birds.  It seemed they ate their weight in grasshoppers every day and as their weight increased the grasshopper population quickly dwindled.  The kids loved them and pretty much turned them into pets that would follow the kids around like a couple of large, feathered dogs.  I received several confused phone calls from the neighbors throughout the summer but by mid August the neighbors had gotten used to seeing them around and Thomas and Nadine were gorgeous.  The boys entered them to the county fair where they won masses of purple ribbons and for 2 years in a row our boys took top honors and brought home the highly coveted poultry trophy.  It was exciting times! 

But as with so many celebrity couples all was not well between our turkey ‘love birds’.  Relationships can be difficult no matter how beautiful you are.  Thomas and Nadine liked each other well enough but Thomas had a problem.  In fact, when it came to the whole ‘mating thing’ he was more than just a little confused.  Every time I saw them together the poor old boy was 180 degrees off and even though I tried to straighten him out (many, many times I tried) he could never quite get the ‘jist’ of it. 

It was sad…  

hilarious…   but sad…

And as for me, it’s probably a good thing we live in the country because if anyone had witnessed me trying to help our turkeys mate I’m betting PETA would have been involved.

And poor Nadine. 

Poor frustrated Nadine. 

All she wanted was a family.  She took it as long as she could but Nadine could hear her biological clock ticking louder every day so when a flock of wild turkeys passed through she was ready to spread her wings and move on. 

We never saw her again.

It has made Thomas a bitter bird.

It has eaten away at him for years.

But he’s a turkey – so really, how long can this go on?

For 14 years!!!!!

As of this spring Thomas has been a part of our lives FOR  14  YEARS!!!!!

I had no idea turkeys lived this long!!!!!

Is this some kind of record?????????

It’s not like Thomas has led a pampered life. 

 He’s had run-ins with skunks, coyotes, mountain lions, hawks, raccoons, dogs, a couple of steers, 2 ornery kids & their friends, both grandpas, our renters, salesmen, lost tourists, a skittish census taker and an angry UPS man with a can of mace. 

And as for the whole ‘Jehovah Witness Incident’ I would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize.  But on Thomas’  behalf I feel I must also state that it was probably the first time he had ever seen a woman in a skirt.   

 Enough said.

And then there was a practical joke one Thanksgiving in which Thomas with all the dignity of an English butler – stole the show.

For about 7 or 8 years I worked off and on as a bank teller.  On one of the times when I wasn’t working I received a phone call from one of the tellers (who will remain nameless).  She asked if our kids still had a turkey because they were thinking of playing a joke on the bank president – whom we will call CW – to protect the innocent. 

Now CW is a wonderful boss with a great sense of humor.  He grew up on a ranch, worked cattle and horses most of his life and from the stories he’s told has been behind some pretty impressive practical jokes himself.  So of course – I was in! 

As it turned out the teller had asked one of the local ranchers  to show up at the bank dressed as a Pilgrim and she needed a few ‘props’ to seal the deal.  So at the appointed time, on the specified day I met ‘Pilgrim Rancher’ at the front door of the bank with my bird in a crate.  Pilgrim Rancher was dressed for the part – flat brimmed hat, suspenders and a double barrel shot gun.  

Thinking back on this I am amazed that no one on main street seemed to think this was unusual behavior for this man. 

Anyway, I helped him tuck Thomas – who was fully grown by this time and weighed 40+ pounds – under one arm and handed him his gun.  Leaving this poor man outside the door I went in ahead and alerted the tellers who were already busting a gut because they knew what was coming and had spent the last 5 minutes watching us through the front doors.  About that time Pilgrim Rancher hit the automatic door buttons and entered asking to see the president of the bank at the top of his lungs and generally causing a ruckus with Thomas held tight against his side, the turkey’s head bobbing up and down with every step he took.  First came shock then everyone burst out in laughter – even the unsuspecting man and his wife who were new to our quaint little town and by some twist of fate had chosen that particular morning to enter the bank for the first time and open a new account.   (I hear they are still customers to this day)

I swear – South Dakota may have been the only place in the world where a man with a bewildered turkey under his arm could walk into a bank with a gun and no one would call the cops.

 

***Just a thought ***

This was several years ago and times have changed. 

You would probably get shot if you tried it now. 

So don’t try it!

 

Pilgrim Rancher marched right into CW’s office, set Thomas on the floor and heartily wished CW a very happy Thanksgiving.  A huge crowd of people lined up outside the large glass windows that make up CW’s office to stare and laugh at the spectacle before them. 

And what of Thomas?  You ask.

He stood there like a bronze statue – calming surveying the mass of crazy humans before him.

After a few minutes of uncontrollable laughter, Pilgrim Rancher calmly lifted Thomas up to set him on CW’s desk where he stood proudly like the trophy bird he is. 

The crowd hushed as they admired his beauty.  They stood in awe of the ‘well-trained’ bird before them as Thomas basked in the glow of so much well-deserved attention.  He loved it!  He stood proud – chest (complete with an 8″ beard) thrown out and head erect.  He was a vision!  And I was proud to be the guardian of such a magnificent creature. 

As if sensing my pride, Thomas turned to look at me, locking his eyes with mine I felt an understanding – a mutual respect pass between us – blocking out the noise and chaos of a bank full of people. 

It was a beautiful moment… 

and then… 

as I gazed lovingly into Thomas’ sparkling dark eyes I swear he smiled…

He smiled and dropped a very large and smelly ‘deposit’ on the corner of CW’s desk. 

 

Pandemonium reigned supreme! 

People were rolling on the floor – tears streaming down their faces and in that instant Thomas the turkey became a local legend.

 

Thomas has led an interesting life and I’ve often wondered how he has managed to survive it all these years.  He no longer goes to the county fair and has not been asked to relive his glory days on the stage but life goes on. 

When it comes to Thomas the Turkey there are only 2 things I am sure of:

1.  Life has made him a tough old bird (in more ways than one).   

and

2. Don’t ever turn your back on him because it hurts to be attacked by a sexually frustrated bird. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m Back!!!  And just check this out.

 

Here’s the main cooler at the flower shop and this is what I’ve been doing with all my free time – working like a dog & up to my eyeballs in flowers.

 It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

My sister owns Jenny’s Floral which happens to be the only flower shop in Custer, SD.  When you own a flower shop, Valentines Day is really more like a whole week.

Here’s my sister – sorry, I caught her in mid sentence. 

This almost looks like it could be the set for a television show.  All she needs is a string of pearls and a plucked chicken and she could be the next Julia Childs.

“Next you take this red carnation and stuff it up the chickens’…”

Sorry, things get a little weird by the end of the day.  I guess the whole flower/cooking show thing probably wouldn’t work out too well after all. 

We do have a lot of fun and we do a lot of talking, laughing, and giggling like school girls mainly because all the girlfriends come and help. 

Grandma said it best –

“Many hands make the work load light.”

She would be so proud.

Of course, we discuss important things like politics, the new tax laws, quantum physics and how to save the environment.  We have also solved the world’s problems and devised a plan for world peace.

OK – I’m full of compost – we really talk about the men in our lives, our kids, the things we’ve been doing and the things we want to do.  We also bring lots of food and wine and beer for after hours.  That’s when all the really good discussions start.  But I can’t put any of that down in black and white.  I’m sure you understand.  Just imagine it’s like Sex in the City without the city and the fancy shoes.

Here’s Amy.  She worked for my sister back when she was in high school and she’s still willing to come and help, amazing, isn’t it?

Amy has a blog called the Ranch Wife’s Slant.  She also writes articles for several papers and magazines about her life on the ranch.  I think she comes just to gather warped and weird ideals for her upcoming articles.  The flower shop is pretty fertile ground for ‘warped and weird’.

Here’s some more friends.  Denise is slaving over a hot cash register and Kelly (in the green) was working on a balloon masterpiece – a column of white and clear balloons topped off with a very large heart-shaped balloon.  It turned out pretty darn cool.  This was Kelly’s first time at the flower shop.  She made the mistake of walking into the shop before Valentines Day, introducing herself and even stated that she had always dreamed of working in a flower shop.  She’s lucky she got out alive.  I’m not sure we’ll ever see her again but you never know – she fit in really well with our strange little flock of flower groupies.

There’s usually around a dozen of us who descend on the flower shop for the big holidays like Valentines Day and Mothers Day.  Most of us have been doing this for years because it’s a blast and if you don’t show up to work, you know we’ll all talk about you.  Besides, where else can you spend a few days with the girlfriends and play with flowers in the dead of winter.  In South Dakota your options are pretty limited.

Life is just a bed of roses – at the flower shop.

 

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This Worthy and Wierd Quote is a little nasty but  it was so funny that I had to include it here.

I would guess that our boys were about 13 and 16 years old at the time it happened.  We were still living near Custer but were spending that particular day helping Grandpa S. get some things done around the ranch. 

Grandpa was known to everyone as ‘Bud’.  He had been born a cowboy and had lived his whole life at the ranch.  Bud was mostly a quiet man but he could get fired up on occasion when stuff broke down, the price of cigarettes went up or the football games he loved to watch didn’t turn out as he had hoped.  Basically, he was a tough old rancher with skin like tanned leather and a vocabulary that sometimes bordered on the – shall we say – spicy side of life?

This particular day had been a long, hot one filled with broken down equipment, skinned up knuckles and busy grandkids.  We had finally had all the ‘fun’ we could stand so had stopped for a cold drink at the kitchen table.  Grandpa was in the middle of telling a story – about what or who I can’t remember but our youngest son had obviously come in at the middle of the story because he didn’t know what or who it was about either.  Unfortunately, he was trying to figure out what Grandpa was talking about just as Grandpa was trying to finish his story.  My baby (actually a teenager) kept asking,

“Who?  Who are you talking about?  Who? Who?”

Grandpa had reached his last nerve and answered back,

“You don’t shit through feathers!”

It was one of those rare moments in time when the world and everything on it stopped mid-step and you pause with creased brow trying to process the words you think you just heard before asking, “What did you say?”

Grandpa was frazzled and our son was speechless (but secretly thrilled to quickly file these words of wisdom – complete with a 4-letter ‘sentence enhancer’ away for future use). 

The rest of us were practically worthless as we laughed till tears streamed from our eyes.  Everybody laughed about that one – even Grandpa and our boy.

I can’t blame HBO for teaching my children to cuss like sailors.  They were born ranch kids and since most ranchers have a colorful language you’re bound to pick up a few choice words that always seem to pop out at the most inopportune times.

(I’m still really, really sorry about that one time, Pastor Dave)

When our boys were little and throughly fascinated with those 4-letter words I finally had to make a deal with them – they could cuss but only when we were working cattle.  I figured this was OK since it seems to be the only language cattle understand. 

Now, you might think I’m a terrible mother but I must admit this arrangement worked out pretty well.  The boys actually watched their language at school and public places but on horseback, in a corral full of wild-eyed cattle they could blister the paint off the side of the barn. 

I always had to laugh when the neighbors would come to help work cattle – seeing the shocked looks on their faces, the boys were always quick to explain…

 “But Mom says that’s the only language cattle understand.”

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Sorry it’s been a few dayssince I last wrote.  It has been really cold and snowy and my satellite dish had collected a nice little snow drift up there on top of the house. 

Since it was -20 degrees (yes that’s MINUS 20 degrees) with lots of wind and mainly because I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather I wasn’t very excited about climbing up there and sweeping the snow away.  So I just waited for the snow to drift somewhere else which it did today.  So in honor of having my internet back we will not be showing any snow photos today – I promise.  How about some nice warm pictures of a trip I took with the girlfriends to sunny Texas instead?

It was April 2008.  It was beautiful and warm.  And it was snowing like crazy – at home.  Hee Hee Hee!

But we were 9 Moms on Spring Break on South Padre Island and we didn’t care about the howling winds and the 3 feet of snow in South Dakota.

No siree!

There were no children, no husbands, and no hungry cows and horses to feed. 

I don’t think they even allow those things on Padre Island.

At least that’s what I told my family when I left.  Can you believe they actually bought it?

But Padre Island did have a few things we didn’t have back home…

Ah… the fragile beauty,

and the exotic wildlife,

and the steamy sunsets,

and the crazy tourists, 

(Yep, that’s me)

And my big blue feet and my ‘glow in the dark’ shockingly white  midwest legs.

Scary – isn’t it?

Did you know your feet turn that color from the cold winter weather in South Dakota? 

And your legs never do tan because 11 months out of the year it’s too cold to wear shorts. 

It’s sad, but true.

Maybe I should go back to Texas.  You know – for the health of my blue feet and ‘glow in the dark’ legs.  I really think I should.

It makes sense to me but do you think Hubby will buy it?

Maybe – if I don’t show him this picture.

 Who was that cute kid and why is he laid out on the table like a slab of beefcake in front of a sign that says “I got my crabs at Daddys”?

I forget.

Wait… 

What was I talking about?

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OK…  it’s official.

I’ve had just about all the winter fun I can stand!

We have snow.  We have lots of snow and it keeps drifting back and forth.  Every day it’s stacked up in a new spot.  The snow can’t seem to decide where it wants to be.  I think snow likes to check out several spots before it decides to stay put.   It’s a theory I have.

Monday night after work I got stuck in our driveway – in the snow that had drifted – with my 3/4 ton, 4 wheel drive pickup –  on a cold and windy evening a half a mile from my house – I got stuck!

Here’s my ride when it’s not stuck in the snow.

I didn’t have a shovel or my Carhart coveralls or my snowboots or a hat or a decent pair of gloves.  And the worst thing was that my husband wasn’t home to dig me out.  Wahhhh!!!

So…  I cussed a little and then I walked through the herd of cows to the house, put on my coveralls, a hat, gloves and my snow boots.  I found a shovel and walked back to my pickup.  By then it was getting dark but I spent a half hour digging the truck out anyway.  I drove it about 5 feet and got stuck again!

So…  I cussed some more, then I dug some more and this time when I got the pickup moving I turned off the driveway and cut across the pasture where you could almost see a patch of bare ground once in a while if you really looked.  I followed a cow path, bounced over several frozen cow pies, hit the gas (or in this case – the diesel fuel) and finally made it to the house.

Life is an adventure – go ahead and live it!

That was Monday night.  Tuesday night I made it home just fine because Hubby had been out plowing snow all day but as we were finishing supper the phone rang – the neighbor lady was stuck and her vehicle was stuck a lot deeper than mine had been.  Hubby fired up the road grader and went to plow as close as he could.  He plowed up one side of her vehicle and down the other, leaving her cute little SUV in an island of snow.   I came with the pickup to help too.  He plowed, we shoveled and then we jump-started her vehicle because the battery was dead by then and finally we chained it to the back of the road grader and pulled her out. 

She was very happy to be on her way.

That’s the way things have been going around here.  The scary part is it continues to snow.  It just keeps coming along with the freezing rains, ground blizzards, drifting snow and frigid arctic temperatures.  You just have to love life in the midwest. 

But if you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes and it will change.

I keep telling myself spring is just around the corner – it has to be!

I’ve had just about all the winter fun I can stand.

And from the looks of it, these deer have too.  They’ve decided to spend the rest of the winter right here, in the stack yard out of the wind with all these lovely hay bales.

Pretty smart critters – aren’t they?

 

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I had to bring the ladder inside to change some light bulbs so I thought I would take a couple of pictures while I was up there.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to photograph ‘up there’ so here are some pictures of the deer heads that grace our walls. 

I’m sorry – it’s been a long winter and we’re rednecks.

Surprisingly, each deer has a pretty good story.

This is a mule deer.  He was eating hay in our stack yard on the opening day of hunting season – not a wise decision on his part.

 You probably remember this guy from a previous post. 

My husband shot this one while he was standing on the front porch in his underwear (my husband – not the deer).  I have a video of this.  You will never see stuff like this on a TV hunting show even though it was pretty darn funny.

But the best story of all belongs to the little set of horns in the center.  They came from a 4 point White-tailed buck…

and our dog, Barney got that set.

 

Now before you get all up in arms (pun intended), let me explain. 

Barney the Border Collie was a lover, not a fighter.  His greatest joy in life was baby chicks.  Barney LOVED baby chicks!  He never hurt one – in fact Barney was the best mother hen we had. 

If you’ve ever been around Border Collies you know they have to have a job.  They are working dogs.  They will herd cows, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, children, cats, balls and all manners of fowl.  Barney’s life revolved around baby chicks.  Every spring when our hens hatched out their babies, Barney was a nervous wreck.  He would go from one batch of chicks to the next, round and round till he was exhausted. 

He loved baby chicks so much that when our hens weren’t setting I would buy chicks just for him.  I would come home with a box of little cheepers and as soon as he heard them he would get so excited he could hardly contain himself.  He would sleep beside their pen and never leave them till they were about half-grown.

Barney was a great dog.

But I’ve gotten sidetracked – the deer horns.

One year both our boys had hunting licenses.  We lived near Custer, SD at that time right up against Custer State Park.  The park fence ran for about 3/4 of a mile along the edge of our property and both boys knew the rules of hunting – anything on the other side of the fence was off-limits.  There was no hunting in the state park! 

But that was OK.  There were usually enough deer on our property that there was no reason to even look across the fence – except for that one white-tailed buck.

He was beautiful.  Not a big rack but well-formed and both boys set their sights (so to speak) on getting him. 

But it wasn’t as easy as you’d think.  He was smart!

There was a spot in the park fence where it crossed the creek that the wire didn’t quite reach the ground leaving just enough space for the deer to duck under the fence and come onto our land and the big meadow full of tall grass. 

All season the boys tried to catch the buck on our land but no matter how quietly they snuck out of the house,  gun in hand, he heard them and would scoot back under the fence to the park where he knew he was safe. 

After a couple of weeks of failure, the boys put a tree stand up in a pine tree then spent hours waiting for the buck but not once did he pass under the fence while they were outside.

He was really smart.

So hunting season passed by and both boys finally gave up and harvested other deer to fill our freezer.  Winter turned into spring.  The snow melted and the grass turned green.  One nice spring day our oldest son, Dalton decided it was time to climb the tree and take down the tree stand.  Barney followed him out, excited to go on a walk with one of his beloved boys.  As they crossed the pasture something in the grass caught Dalton’s eye and he bent down and picked up the cutest little deer antler you ever saw.  It was just a couple small points, only about 6″ long and it had been well polished by the young buck that had shed it at the end of the mating season.  Dalton held it down for Barney to sniff and said,

“Look what I found!”

Barney was just as excited as Dalton and he wagged his tail in delight before disappearing into the tall grass, his nose to the ground.

Dalton climbed the tree, unstrapped his tree stand and lowered it to the ground.  He turned around to whistle for Barney only to find the dog standing right behind him, his tail wagging  in delight and a deer skull clenched in his teeth – the antlers coming up on either side of his face. 

It just about scared the beejeebers out of Dalton.  He was half way up the tree again before he realized it was only Barney and not some blood-crazed devil-like forest creature never before seen by human eyes.

Dalton followed Barney under the fence and back into the trees to the spot where the remains of the buck lay – obviously the site of a mountain lion kill. 

The boys couldn’t catch him but the big kitty did.

Needless to say Barney won the ‘Big Buck’ contest that year and if dogs could talk you could bet Barney would have had one thing to say.

“Tee Hee – see what I found!”

Miss you Barney.

 

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My sister and I are curlers.

No – not the kind you put in your hair – the kind you find on a sheet of ice.

Look – here’s a couple of curlers now.

That’s my sister, Jenny and Jeff – the only guy on our team. 

We just started curling last year and it’s a blast!!! 

Sure, you slip and fall once in a while but nobody points and laughs because they’ve been there too.

And besides – every time I laugh I slip and fall too.

Here’s the very nice ice rink in Rapid City where we curl and some of the stones.

Here’s some really good curlers.  When I grow up I want to curl just like they do and I want a pink broom too!

A curling we will go…  A curling we will go…

There are enough people signed up this year to have 8 teams.  Most of us are beginners but there are a few who have been curling for years and they are great about helping us beginners out.

Here’s Jenny as the alternate skip (the strategic master who tells us where she wants the stone) in the house (the target on the ice where we try to put our stones).  Wow – it almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about.  This shot looks pretty good – there are lots of rocks in play but the ice was really weird that day and no matter where you tried to put the rocks they usually just went off to the left.  I’m not just making excuses – everyone on our sheet (patch of ice) was having the same problem.  It wasn’t just me.

Here’s what happens when you put your camera in your pocket and it gets all fogged over.

Adds a bit of mystery to the whole thing doesn’t it?

“It was a dark and foggy night at the curling rink…”

What do you think – it could be the beginning of a top-selling murder mystery – ‘Murder on the Rocks’ or maybe ‘Murder’s Just a Stones Throw Away’.

OK, I’ll work on it.

I love curling – it’s too much fun!

 

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When you live on a ranch Date Night could be just about anything.

Saturday night Hubby and I went out and did something I have never done before.

It was a beautiful evening with the nearly full moon adrift in a sky full of clouds.

There was mood lighting, witty conversation and I wore my favorite Carhart coveralls…

 

OK, we went out to the back yard and changed the ball joint on the old Ford pickup.

Who says romance is dead?

 

Here’s what the poor girl looked like.

Notice the mood lighting. 

This time of year you almost always run out of daylight.

The ball joint was completely trashed – there was nothing holding it together but a wish and a prayer.  You can see the shiny new one at the top of the picture. 

I love this truck.  She hauled my babies around for years and then she took my kids to school when they were old enough to drive.  In fact they started driving this pickup down to the school bus stop (a mile from the house) when Dalton was around 9 or 10 years old.  There are a few dings and dents and those wild children of mine even got in trouble a couple of times in her. 

I know your shocked that my sweet babies would ever do anything to get in trouble – but it’s true.

Overall, she’s been a great truck.  I rolled over 190,000 miles on my way to work last week.  I stopped on the side of the road, danced a little jig and whooped at the top of my lungs. 

The only ones who saw me were a couple of deer and a bald eagle flying overhead and none of them even noticed.  Makes you wonder if there aren”t more crazy ranch wives out there that do this type of thing – doesn’t it?  Still, it’s a good thing I live out here – if I did that type of thing downtown of some big city they would probably lock me up.

Here’s the jack we chose to use – not your typical handyman jack.

What’s that they say?  Go big or go home.

Why mess with those little ‘screw up’ jacks when you can hook a chain on the bucket of your handy-dandy backhoe and have an instant jack that can lift the whole front of your pickup off the ground?

And here’s Hubby putting on the nut that holds everything together.

And here’s one of the compartments on the tool truck – a masterpiece of organization (and yes, the rest of the trucks compartments looks just like this one).  Never fear – Hubby knows exactly where everything is!

(Imagine my eye balls rolling wildly into the back of my head)

A few lug nuts and she’s done.

Thank goodness – I was starting to worry about the old girl.

Now if someone would just vacuum the dog hair and 3 gallons of spilled oats out of the back seat, take the spare parts, fencing materials, baling twine and tools out of the bed, sweep out 10  years worth of dust, mud spatters, old food wrappers and dirt from the cab and use harsh chemicals to remove the black, greasy buildup on the door handles, steering wheel, seats and ceiling liner – I would drive her to work.  

And someday, if your driving through Wyoming and happen to see a crazy ranch wife dancing a jig on the edge of the road beside her red Ford F-150 pickup – just smile and wave as you pass. 

You can bet I’ve just turned over 200,000 miles.

 

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A couple of years ago when our house looked like this:

We had a little problem with pack rats.

Actually the critters we have are called bushy-tailed wood rats.

Neotoma cinerea if you want to get all scientific.

They’re really kind of cute in a ‘ratish’ rodent type of way.  Full grown they are roughly the size of a small rabbit only with a long furry tail and cute little rat ears.

But do not be deceived by the adorable ears and fuzzy tails.  These are not the kind of creatures you would willingly invite into your home.  They chew on everything from food to furniture and they especially love wiring and plumbing.  They generally make a mess – not to mention the shock of coming face to face with one in your home!  I think I got about 147 grey hairs over a few weeks of construction – thank you very much.

As we started work on the house we were introduced to one particularly determined wood rat who eventually came to be known as Houdini.  We would see him as we worked on the old house.  He would show up at the most inopportune times and always when you didn’t have a weapon at hand to dispatch the furry little creature.  You’d move a piece of sheet rock or a box of nails and there he’d be.  You’d see him scurrying down the staircase or climb a ladder and he’d be there amongst the rafters to greet you.  He was everywhere!!! 

We tried to be humane – really we did.  We tried for several weeks to catch the little bugger in a catch-em-alive trap but Houdini had a way of springing the trap, eating the bait and disappearing all in a matter of seconds. 

He was good!

One day we saw him zip into the old hide-a-bed sofa that had been left in the house.  We quickly drug it out the door but once we opened it up Houdini was nowhere to be seen.  The same thing happened with an old cast iron wood stove.  It took four of us to haul it outside while holding boards over the openings just to find it was empty when we all collapsed outside.

Houdini was a master of escape but his days as master of our castle were numbered. 

After several alterations to the trap, my husband did finally catch him.  With his shiny little black eyes pleading to us through the fine mesh wire of the cage he faced his defeat. 

My husband didn’t want to shoot him, not because he had feelings for the rat – he didn’t want holes in his newly improved trap nor did he wish to risk Houdini’s escape by opening the cage to get a clear shot so after a fond farewell from me (OK – it wasn’t too fond) my husband hauled the trapped rodent down to the stock tank at Grandpa’s house where Houdini would meet his watery fate.

But don’t cry for Houdini yet!  The story didn’t end here.

As the cage sank into the slimy green depths of the stock tank the latch released allowing one of the doors to float up with the rising water.  Houdini, never one to pass up an opportunity, made quick work of this last-ditch shot at freedom.  He swam out the end of the cage and amid many shouted curses and a wildly swinging shovel that nearly ended it all, Houdini climbed to the lip of the tank and ran half-way around the edge, out of reach of the long-handled shovel. 

Hubby was no match for the soggy little rodent who was spurred on by a genuine fear for his life.  Houdini cleared the tank, shot between rows of tomatoes and onions in Grandpa’s garden and darted through a small hole in the back of the garage.

Hot on his trail, Hubby tore through the garage, throwing boxes and spare parts aside but the varmint had vanished once again.

Houdini had lived up to his namesake by making an amazing (and hair-raising) escape from the claws of deaths’ icy grip.

I hear you cheering out there. 

 I know – I wanted a happy ending too – and it could have been if Houdini had moved on.  

But he didn’t and unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the story…

To be continued…

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I would like to give you a short tour of our new home. 

Bob Vila – where are you?

Here’s our front porch.  Y’all come sit a spell. 

Can you say ‘redneck’?  I knew you could.

Actually the sofa isn’t usually on the front porch but we had to haul it out.  There was a pack rat living in it and we finally decided enough was enough when he started eating our Little Debbie snacks.  We can put up with a lot but when you mess with Little Debbie it’s over – Houdini the rat had to leave.  Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, he wasn’t in the sofa when we hauled it out – hence his well deserved name.  But that’s another story.

Is that sewer pipe on the front of the deck?  And check out the front step made from huge cement pallets that are used for transporting transformers (the big can-like things hanging on power poles).  Did I mention my husband retired from the power company?  Now you know ‘the rest of the story’.

Actually, thank goodness, this front porch is no more.  This was what our place looked like when we started.  Hard to believe – some people thought we should just drive the D-8 dozer through it and start from scratch.  There’s just no accounting for some people’s taste.

C heck out the well-oiled, go-get-em work crew.  They are ready to spring to action at a moments notice.  Can you tell?  That’s our oldest son on the left, John – the best cement man in the world, our youngest son – who will grow up to do anything but be a carpenter and my hubby.  Yes, I have to admit they did deserve a rest.

This is me after I collapsed in the doorway.  No – not really.  But I deserve a rest now and then too.

Here’s our living room.

And hubby’s standing in the crawl space under the master bedroom. 

This cute little house was built in the 30’s.  We’ve heard rumors it was a Montgomery Wards house.  I guess you could order a whole house from the catalog – impressive isn’t it?  Anyway it did have some unique issues.  They must not have actually had the windows when they framed them in because some of the framing had been cut out and kinda just improvised.  I really wish I had taken some photos of that.  This house never had insulation (before it’s time) or plumbing and the wiring was done rather haphazardly.  And the biggest obstacle was the house wasn’t square.  It was like you had taken two opposite corners and pulled – boy did that make for some fun building!!!

And just look at this kid – nice nails sticking out of his hat.  He was having fun wasn’t he?

He’s the baby,  got to love him.

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