Ranch Security

 I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Hank the Cowdog books by author John Erickson.   Good ol’ Hank, Head of Ranch Security, can usually be found protecting the ranch from varmints and keeping everyone safe with his side-kick Drover.

Well here at the J & A Chicken Ranch we have our own head of ranch security by the name of Drew Miller.

Drew Miller was rescued by the animal shelter as a pup.  My mom and niece Ashy picked out this little, cute ball of black and white fur.  They were told by the shelter that he was probably a Border Collie.  Well, he ain’t no Border Collie. 

We don’t really know what he is.  

Drew ended up at our house at about 6 or 7 months of age.


 He’s a good, gentle boy most of the time.  Except when there’s a varmint on the loose.  I’ve seen a side of Drew on the attack that I don’t like seeing.   He killed a mama possum once that I witnessed and am still having night sweats over.  You can read about that murder here.

But that was a possum.  They play dead.  I mean, how hard is it to kill something that’s playing dead?  Even Hank and Drover could do that. 


Then there was the porcupine.  You know those fights where one says, “You should see the other guy?”  That’s what the porcupine was telling his friends back at the Prickly Pub.

Either last night or this morning, we had a very close call.  After church I went out to tend to all the animals and there lying dead in the back yard about 3 feet from the house was a  black and white animal.

Yep, you guessed it.  A skunk. 

My mama used to sing a little song to me when I was a little girl.

Black and white kitty, sitting in the woods.  Isn’t that little kitty pretty? 

 I went right over to pick it up, but shooooo weeeeee, (pinch your nose here) it wasn’t that kind of a kitty.

I’ve never seen a skunk up close.  For obvious reasons.  I thought he would look more like Flower in the movie Bambi.  Uh, No.  Skunks are uuugggllly.

Drew  killed that poor rascal in our backyard.  And miracle of all miracles, it did not let off its stench.  Had this been a Hank the Cowdog story, Hank would’ve  gotten sprayed, tried to go home for supper, got run off from the house ’cause of his stink, and sent to live with the barbaric coyotes for a month till the smell finally wore off.

Which makes me envision Drew Miller, stealth-like, stalking that skunk, then pouncing before the poor fella could even defend himself.

Either that, or these 50 mph winds we’ve been having for 2 days are tricking us.   Only time will tell.

 Drew Miller, a.k.a. Killer, serving and protecting. 

I think I’m going to get him a badge.

The Seinfeld Post—a post about nothing

I’ve accepted a challenge by WordPress, the site where I blog.  They are challenging bloggers to either post once a week or once a day in the year 2011.

I am going for the once a day posting challenge.  It’s a biggie.  Especially considering how long it takes me to write one of these boogers.   

I missed the very first day of the year.  Which technically means I failed before I even started, but I am going to perservere anyway. I may be a failure but I ain’t no quitter.

Now its January 5th, Day #5, and guess what?  I’m out of ideas.  I got nothing.  I have nothing to write and a sneaking suspicion this might be a long year.  Yesterday evening, after I pushed publish on my last blog, I closed my laptop feeling very insecure about my post, and thought  It’s a good thing noone is ever coming back to read anything I’ve ever written, because I have nothing more to say. 

Nevertheless I’ve accepted this challenge, I want to do it,  and I need to post something daily.  Something with a little substance.

All day I’ve been thinking about a topic. 

WordPress is putting out ideas over at dailypress.wordpress.com, so I hopped over there for some inspiration.  Today’s topic is “Are you stressed out right now?  If so , why or why not”  Uh, yeah, I kinda, sorta don’t have an idea for a blog the 5th day into a challenge. 

Next I thought I might do a Wordless Wednesday post like other bloggers do, where they just post a picture and no words at all.  But I can’t, I tried that before.  And I just can’t say nothing.

But if I was going to do a Wordless Wednesday post, which I’m obviously not, here is the picture I would use.

But I can’t post a picture like this and not explain it.  It’s just not right.

This was taken on Thanksgiving Day.  My mom was cooking and we all gathered up at her house.  It was a pretty large crowd and one must admit, it is hard to cook for a large crowd especially when the cook is out of practice, has adult ADHD, and is displaying the early stages of Alzheimers.  I LOVE YOU MOM!!

Authors Note:   Okay so right now I must pause in writing and tell you, if my mom ever reads this, which she probably won’t because she’s forgotten I even have a blog, but if she does, I will need protection from her immediately.   I will pack my bags, move to a remote location and not leave a forwarding address.  If I make it out alive.  I’m scared.

Back to the story.  My mom was a bit frazzled, all with the turkey being undercooked, forgetting the ham,  not having enough chairs for everyone,  the broken plate and the spilled tea.    So when I saw a cigarette on the rolls, and my mom being  the only smoker in the house, I thought Holy Cow, she’s gone over the edge now.  There’s no turning back.  Call in the white coats.  Haul her to the loony bin. 

But she denied doing it.  That was not me, she claimed. 

She was adament about her innocence.  I would NOT have done something like that

Now mind you, this is the same woman who drove off and left my niece ordering a milkshake at  Jay’s Drive-In the other day and didn’t realize she’d left her until she got home, then had to rush back only to find her leaning against the bricks sucking on her straw with not a worry in the world.  So laying a cigarette on a dinner roll and walking off seemed very plausible to me.

So I was all like, mom you probably just forgot.  Who else would have done it?

And here I must give my mom a little credit.  It wasn’t her after all.  She was right.  She would not have done something like that.  Of course she wouldn’t.  The heathen children later confessed (after torture and beatings) that it was them.  They were playing pranks on the grown-ups.  They felt we needed some revenge after forcing them to sit at Mr. Tiny’s table, which in itself is a whole ‘nother story.


Here are three of them shaking their fists at us just because we forgot they existed and didn’t have a  table or chairs for them.  I don’t know why they’re complaining.   Children never get to sit at the grown up table during the holidays.  It’s like the law or something.


Here’s something funny that happened today.  I was teaching my classroom full of second graders that I adore.     There is not a single child in there that I want to hog tie and gag.  Not one.  We’re studying weather patterns and the water cycle.  So I ask the question, “Who can tell me the four seasons?” 

And one of my boys blurts out, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”

The Guinea’s a Goner

Earlier I introduced you to my friend, the guinea bird.

Unfortunately I must report that he fell upon a tragic accident. 

My husband found him hanging upside down on the fence with one of his legs caught between two pickets.  We don’t know how long he had been that way.  He was still alive and Jason rescued him from this position.  But his leg or hip was obviously broken and was dragging behind him.  He couldn’t fly, and could barely hop.  When we tried to get near him, he flapped his wings furiously, and attempted to run, and usually fell on his face.  Jason thought we should just shoot him, but me being the optimist thought maybe he’d recover.  So we placed him in the backyard and shut the gates so that nothing could get in there, like a coyote.  I bought some food, and we watered him. 

He lasted like this for three days.  And then I didn’t notice him in the backyard.  Come to find out, something got a hold of him and killed him.  Jason shielded me from awful images, and had disposed of his body before I noticed it.  We are suspecting it was a hawk that we’ve seen around there a couple of times.  Please don’t dwell on his last moments.  Don’t picture it.  Don’t think about it.  Go to your happy place.
It’s a hawk eat guinea world.

As my niece Ashlynn would say, “When it’s their time to die, it’s just their time to die.” 

Aint it the truth.  Aint it the truth.

"Posme Newborns"

We’ve had a harsh winter storm crash into our little town.
So you know what that means.  (Other than school getting cancelled, Yippee!!)  It means the outside dogs who are never allowed in the house because they drive me crazy, are now in the house with me.
As I was giving them their potty break earlier, I was reminded of a snowstorm last spring that traumatized me and nearly forced me into counseling.

These are the events that transpired April 2009. 

Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, so help you God?
I do.

Can you tell us what you witnessed last April Mrs. Wheeler?

It had snowed throughout the night.  The morning was beautiful, still, and crisp.  The sun radiantly shone through the newly budding trees. Sparkles glinted on the snow.  I hesitated letting the dogs out to demolish the glorious canvas left from the springtime snow. 
Rather than clean up their, you know, I memorized the portrait before my eyes and opened the door.

They bounded out, kicking up snow, sticking their noses in, rooting around, and turning it yellow.
It’s a dog’s life.

When I noticed our big dog Drew taking particular interest in the little wooden porch that we have around an out building.  Ears up, tail wagging, he began sniffing under the porch, peeking under the porch, whimpering, and  running from one end to the other, trying to fit his fat dog butt underneath.  It was obvious there was a little critter hiding.  Aw, he wanted to play.  A squirrel more than likely would run out any minute and scamper up a tree. 
What started as casual curiousity for Drew, soon became a frenzy.  He was relentless.  He would not settle with just knowing there was something under there.  He began to dig like he was on crack cocaine.  Throwing snow and then mud behind him.  I began to scream at him for tearing up the yard.  Because he is the most obedient dog in the world, he completely ignored me and dug faster, deeper, and harder.  Then as quick as a wink, he dove his fat head underneath the wooden porch and pulled this ginormous rat creature out.  He started to thrash his head about, shaking it violently, biting it, as it’s long tail hung to the ground. 

Go on.  Take your time.

I panicked.  I was not prepared for this.  I couldn’t watch. I covered my eyes.  I retreated to the house.  Fight or flight?  I think I’ll take flight thanks.  I was thinking he would surely quit.  But he continued to shake his victim.  It became limp in his mouth.  He would then drop it, then drag it around the yard.  Then pick it up again, biting its fleshy middle.  I watched from the window as blood covered his white neck and mouth and began to mix with the mud and the snow.  Puffs of hot dog breath rose in the cold morning air as he stood over this dead and soon to be mangled possum.  I just couldn’t take it any longer.  Enough is enough.  Killing it is one thing, playing with it is entirely another.  And if he started eating it, I was going to throw up. 

Still in pajamas, purple bathrobe, and furry snowboots, I threw the door open, stormed out, grabbed a shovel that was leaning against the house and ran towards him, my shrill screams breaking the silent morning.  I had become the hunter now, and he the hunted.  Seeing the shovel raised, the crazed look in my eyes, and my bed head, he quickly decided his playtime was over.  He dropped the possum and backed off. 

Have you had experiences with possums before?

I must tell you, I’m not a stranger to dead possums.  I’ve shoveled many a dead possum (never bloody) into the dumpster after my old dog would kill them.  This was not an unfamiliar task for me.

But Drew did not like me shoveling his fresh kill.  He kept trying to take it from me.  He was hampering my progress. I couldn’t put him back in the house with his muddy, wet paws and bloody muzzle so I had no choice but to lock him up while I disposed of the varmint.

Were you able to dispose of the corpse?

 I tried, but I couldn’t get it on the shovel.  It was like a ragdoll.   A warm ragdoll.  It may have helped if I would have watched what I was doing, but my head was turned and my eyes were squeezed shut the whole time.  I ended up scooting it across the yard 4 or 5 feet leaving a trail of blood.   Defeated, I put a bucket over it and left it for my manly husband. 
The pretty snow was no longer.  My backyard was now a battlefield.
Traumatized and scarred, I returned to the house and put it all behind me.  It was over.
Or so I thought.

And then what happened?
Days passed.  The snow melted quickly.  Springtime advanced.   Then on Saturday, while playing in the backyard, my niece wandered across two hairless baby possums, yet to open their eyes, lying under a tree almost side by side.  The tree where the possum had lain with a bucket over her.  They each were no bigger than a jalapeno pepper.  Feeling compassionate, and since they didn’t require a very deep hole, we gave them a proper burial, unlike their mother who was rotting in the dumpster. Ashlynn made a memorial headstone from a brick and decorated a rock in their honor.

I was disturbed once again by this.  I pondered it, and then I googled it.  I learned a few things that day.  Possums are marsupials.  They have a pouch that their babies stay in.  I pondered more, and am led to believe that on that snowy day in April, those two little babies were  in their mama’s pouch during her murder.  Mama possum’s only defense was playing dead.  Did she think of her babies in her last moments?  Realizing their mama was dead, the newborns attempted survival by crawling out, only to die later.  Whether by starvation or freezing, we’ll never know.  What a cruel, cruel world.

After hearing the testimony and based on the evidence, it leaves me no choice, but to find the defendent guilty as charged, to be sentenced to an undetermined amount of time behind bars. 

May God Have Mercy On Your Soul.

Drew (left) guilty of possum murder, Grace (right) guilty by association.

The defendent, Drew Miller and his accomplice Grace, have since been released for time served and good behavior.  The possum graveyard remains in tact.  Mrs. Wheeler is recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and relives this tragic event at every snowfall.