Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

The Bridges

A river runs through it — it being a corner of our place. Our Labrador Retrievers enjoy that feature of ranch life. But this is a story about a cat.

Beau, our male Yellow Lab, has taken upon himself many responsibilities. Some of them I share with him. For example, at the crack of dawn’s first light, he barks. Since we let the dogs sleep in the house to prevent fraternizing with coyotes, his bark requires me to get up and let him and Sadie go outside. Sometimes I return to bed, but if I slumber too long, Beau barks again from outside. This is my signal to feed him and Sadie on the back deck. I also put out food for the cats, in the elevated feeding station described in another blog. Beau is very vocal and very bossy. He has a routine. He likes all of us to follow his desired routine.

This particular morning, I did not return to bed. I gallantly allowed Sleeping Beauty aka Miss Sugar, my hot trophy wife, to sleep longer, and to sleep, I had hoped, undisturbed. So I fed the dogs without prompting by Beau. Nevertheless, as I was making coffee, I heard him bark again. He sounded troubled. It reminded me of Lassie, or Rin Tin Tin, or Bullet. What is it, Lassie? Is Timmy in the well? Yo! Rinty! Bullet, show me where Roy is! Beau ran to the river. He barked at something on the other side, wanting me to look. So I looked out and saw why he was barking. One of the cats was on the other side of the river. That bothered Beau. Maybe he wanted it to come for breakfast, per the routine. But now the cat was stuck on the wrong side of the deep waters. This was a job for SuperDog!

Beau believes he is responsible for the safety of the cats. I was fascinated to watch him swim across the river and come up the bank to where the cat was crying. The cat was directly across from the house, but the direct route meant swimming across the water. Apparently, the cat forgot where it had crossed the river. To get back to the house without getting wet, it needed to go to one of the two bridges, neither of which are by the house.

Beau sniffed it and then trotted toward one of the two bridges. He wanted the cat to follow him. He did not swim back across because everyone knows, including Beau, that cats do not enjoy swimming, hence the problem this particular cat was facing.

I have a lower opinion of the cat’s intellect than does Beau. I went to get my rubber irrigation boots on so that I could walk to and over the bridge, which is past the barn. I did not want to walk barefoot in order to rescue the dumb cat.

Instead of needing to rescue the cat, by the time I got to the bridge, the cat was already on the house side of the water. He had, as Beau desired, followed Beau across the bridge. Now who is the dummy? I guess it is me! The animals had solved the problem with no help from me. It seems that Beau at least is capable of critical thinking and problem-solving.
beau and cat
Below you can see the bridge they crossed. This is me riding Scamp another day. Some horses don’t like to cross bridges. I think the hollow sound of the clopping of their hooves and maybe looking over the side spooks some, but not Scamp. Beau is with us in this photo too.
scamp crossing bridge
the bridge
Above you see the other bridge, the one the county road crosses over. We don’t like our pets out on the road, so Beau made a prudent choice.
This is one of the waterfalls about three miles downstream. The cat probably would not have enjoyed going over the waterfall. Thanks to Beau, the cat did not have to find out.

Homeland Security on the Range

911 sign
Our place is adjacent to a large ranch of 16,000 acres or so. It is not all fenced along the county road that passes through. This is known as open range. Cattle are sometimes in the road or crossing the road, so drivers of vehicles must beware. There is a sign that warns about “Range Cattle.”

It is beautiful country, so some folks passing through want to leave the county road and drive “off road.” Since it is private land, not a public park, it as as rude to do this as it would be if I decided to have a picnic in the backyard of someone in a subdivision, or go for an uninvited swim in their pool. The difference is that on the ranch trespassers are bolder because they are less likely to be caught. After all, they see no houses around. The cattle do not tattle.

In particular, there is a part of the ranch where the Overland Trail passes through. There is a place on the Overland Trail known as Signature Rock. (There are many Signature Rocks on many trails.) The soft sandstone allows a person to carve his name and often the date. It is interesting to see names carved in the late 1800s.

It is so interesting, that some people drive up this piece of the Overland Trail with four-wheel drive vehicles to reach Signature Rock. The problem is, the old wagon ruts from the Overland Trail can be damaged by new ruts from modern vehicles.

What to do to prevent further damage to the Overland Trail? Someone on behalf of the ranch put a gate across the trail at the access to it by the county road. There used to be a sign that said, “Posted No Tresspassing.” The sign is gone, but the gate remains. The gate is locked. Unfortunately, the gate is not attached to a fence.
gate overland trail

Apparently, it works so well that there is a second gate, similarly set up without connection to a fence on either side.
gate to nowhere
locked gate

I hope they work and that no one dares drive around either of them.

At our ranch, we still use fences. We even attach gates to them.

And we have signs of our own. See below.
shotgun warning

Sugarcoated Art Auction

kober art old friendsThe painting above is by Art Kober. It is called “Old Friends.”

They say that if you want something done, ask a busy person. So they asked my wife, Sugar, to recruit artists for an art auction to raise money for a local volunteer fire department.

I am capable of doing one thing at a time. I can watch television at night and, if I push myself, maybe eat a snack while doing so. That is how I multitask. Sugar can watch TV as she works on her computer at the same time, contacting a network of artists to ask for their participation, posting images of the artwork on a website she created for the event, and advertising it via social media. It took dozens, maybe hundreds of hours, from March through August. Then, of course, she (we) spent two days at the event — one day setting up the framed pieces in the tent the day before the auction, and another day helping the auctioneer, welcoming the public, and chatting with the artists who attended. Many of the artists were from out of state, as far away as New York and Oregon, but a few from Colorado and Wyoming made the trip.

There were over eighty pieces hung in the tent. There was a live auction of about fifty and the rest were hanging all day for the silent auction. The sales amounted to $27,000.00.

I am proud of Sugar! It isn’t the first time, of course. I am kind of used to that feeling.

Check out

Plum Good Eatin’ Doggone It

Our friend Berni gave us a big pail of plums as well as a plum crumb cake dessert.

He has a plum tree in his yard.

We have a Yellow Labrador Retriever named Beau in our yard.

I have mentioned Beau in other blog posts. I also recently wrote about Beau’s indiscriminate dietary choices.

I know what you are thinking. You suspect that Beau ate that plum good plum dessert. He did not. Not yet anyway. That is because the dessert is safely in the refrigerator.

One might think, as did I, and as did my trophy wife Sugar, that a pail of fruit would not be targeted by a dog. Dogs are, after all, meat eaters, and in recent years, dog food eaters. They should not, in my opinion, and in Sugar’s opinion, be attracted to plums. But he was.

I first noticed on the kitchen floor what looked to be kibbles of dog food. I was wrong, as is often the case. If the small objects on the floor were pieces of dog food, the dogs would eat them. These objects were, I discovered when I picked them up, plum pits. Plum pits! Beau had eaten several plums and spit out the pits.

We can all agree that those who spit on the floor are guilty of very poor manners.

Still, he does exhibit very good taste, doggone it.

Point of No Return

girl with puppy
The young teen had her puppy on a leash at the summer festival. The puppy was being exposed to a crowd of people, strange smells, and loud sounds, including music. I guessed that she was socializing the puppy. She kept reassuring him and he stayed calm, trusting her apparently.

It was a German Shepherd, about 12 weeks old, she told me. The puppy did not pull on its leash, even at that young age. It was sitting right by its owner’s leg, alertly taking it all in.

A dog lover myself, I complimented her well-behaved pet. I told her it was a good-looking dog and seemed very intelligent. Thinking of a stereotype for the breed, I even asked whether she was training it to be a guide dog.

“Not exactly,” she said. “This puppy is blind. I suppose you could say that I am guiding him.”

“Oh my,” I exclaimed. “That was kind of you to take on a blind puppy.”

“Well, I did not really mean to do that. We bought the dog from a breeder, and later learned, from our vet, that he is blind. Something seemed wrong. When we told the breeder the puppy she sold us was ‘defective,’ she offered us the opportunity to return it and get a different puppy from her next litter. But, of course, we were too attached by then and decided to keep Buddy.”

She hugged him. Buddy smiled.

“You are a good boy, aren’t you, Buddy?”

He is. And his owner is a good girl. They make a good pair. Bless their hearts!

I believe that God knew who this puppy needed and who this young woman needed. He was the matchmaker and God does not make mistakes.

Mentoring Manliness

cowboy eating icecream

My wife has recently hinted that I am not in touch with my sensitive side. She recounted two recent events. I do not get her point. See if you do.

We were out to dinner with another couple last Saturday night. We were talking about the other couple moving to another home.

The husband addressed me and said, “I hope you won’t think less of me, but I cried when we left that house.”

Apparently, he wondered whether I understood how he felt. I do understand his sadness at leaving that beloved home. What I do not understand is why he would admit to me that he cried. T.M.I. — Too much information!

I was about to mentor him a bit concerning the inadvisability of sharing his emotions when Sugar squeezed my leg under the table. She can read my mind. So, I shifted to a different take on the topic.

“You wept?” I asked.

“Like a baby,” the man confessed.

“Well, the shortest verse in the Bible is: ‘Jesus wept.'” I thought that would comfort him as well as display my knowledge of Bible trivia. Then I changed the subject.

“Did you see Peyton Manning headbutt that Houston linebacker who put Wes Welker out of the game with another concussion? That sent a message. His teammates love that leadership even with a 15 yard penalty for taunting an opposing player! I loved it!” Now we were on a subject I could enjoy. There is, as you should know, no crying in football. Baseball either.

Today we were at The Forks getting ice cream. More specifically, I was getting a cone. Miss Sugar refrained. She is careful to maintain her figure as my hot trophy wife. The lady behind the counter knows us as frequent customers. She too calls Sugar my hot trophy wife.

“Are you here for your regular — Jack Daniels chip in a waffle cone?” She already knew the answer.

“And what will your hot trophy wife have?”

Sugar answered for herself. “I would not be a hot trophy wife if I ate too many of those, so I better pass.”

Two bearded young men were waiting in line. One of them asked about Jack Daniels chip. I guess he wanted to emulate me. I respect that.

I told him that I recommend it. I teased that sometimes sissies order mint chip or even caramel sea salt. We smiled at each other knowingly.

I said to his buddy, “I apologize for denigrating those who choose other than Jack Daniels, but it looks like you two are seeking guidance about the ways of the world.”

Sugar watched their puzzled faces. Helpfully, she instructed, “Denigrate means to put down.”

We went outside to sit on the porch swing as I ate my cone and Sugar watched me eat my cone with adoring eyes. In hindsight, I regret not offering her a lick.

We then walked to our vehicle, which was parked next to a Nature Conservancy pickup, and in the pickup were the two young bearded men.

“How do you like the Jack Daniels chip?” I asked the rugged man in the driver’s seat.

He could not meet my eyes. Sheepishly, he said, “I was hoping that you would not see me eating my cone here in the truck.”

“What, pray tell, did you get?” I tried to not look judgmental.

“I got cookie dough ice cream.”

The silence was uncomfortable.

The young man in the passenger seat broke the tension.

“I got Jack Daniels,” he cheerfully reported.

What a fine young man! He gets it.

ice cream


This catchy title is not about living in Colorado where pot is legal.

The Stoning of Soraya M. is a movie about a story of an Islamic woman who is stoned to death as the penalty for adultery, despite her innocence. It was naturally painful physically for her to be pelted with hard stones until her injuries were fatal, but the emotional pain must have been even greater because her sons, her husband, and her father threw the first stones. She died knowing they had turned on her. Rather than protecting her, they joined in. They even led the way. They followed protocol.

You might identify with Soraya if you have had the experience of your own family punishing you unjustly rather than supporting you and protecting you.

It is painful when a stranger or enemy attacks you, but much more painful when the stones are thrown by family members whom you believed loved you.

Poor Soraya watched the rocks coming toward her, knowing who threw them and knowing that they intended to harm her.

The stone cold hard truth is that this does not feel like love. It does not look like love. It is not love.

Pasture Protectors

While I was in Cheyenne having breakfast with my cousin, Tom, Miss Sugar went out to catch a horse in our pasture. We have a good system — if you catch one horse, the others follow. Instead of me helping her, she had plenty of other companions — two yellow labs and a cat. Simba and Beau

Yes, one of our cats, Camo, likes to go on hikes with us. He also helps me get the horses. Sometimes they are a mile away. One of the horses, Woody, is interested in cats. He puts his head down by them and follows them. I worry that Woody might trample one, but so far that has not happened.
woody and cat

Beau, the male Lab, and Sadie, are more likely companions. It turns out that it was good they went along. Beau anyway.

Sugar told me when I got home that as she went through the gate between the small pasture into the big pasture, something stealthily came out of the tall grass. It was a coyote. It swiftly charged to within four feet of Sugar, which was very alarming, of course. Camo was walking close to Sugar’s legs and was likely the target of the coyote, who wanted to snatch the cat and run off with it. That was a frightening moment for Sugar and Camo, but there was no need to worry because the heroes were there to save the day.

Who are the heroes? Beau and Woody!

Sugar described that Beau quickly sized up the situation and ran to the rescue. The coyote had to decide whether to continue toward the cat and Sugar, or head for the hills. It chose to head for the hills, or, actually, for the trees by the river.

It did not get far into its retreat when Beau caught up and bit it on its hindquarters. It yelped and kept going. Sugar called Beau to come to her and, thankfully, he did.

Then Woody took over. Woody is a buckskin Quarter Horse from cutting horse breeding, which means he has the instinct to “hook on” to cattle as they move. Good cowhorses are “controlling,” making cows go where the horse’s rider intends. Woody, however, does not limit himself to cattle. Nor does he require a rider. Remember how he follows the cat? In another post I wrote about him chasing pronghorns (antelope), the fastest land animals in North America, and keeping up.

Woody chased that coyote right out of the pasture. The critter escaped being trampled when he ran under a barb wire fence.

Beau and Woody, together, saved Camo and Miss Sugar from that mangy coyote, and I am right pleased that they did. 3amigos

Deer Sighting

Sugar and I see pronghorns (antelope) at our ranch nearly every day. Sometimes we see whitetail deer in the hay meadow. I have encountered elk while riding a horse in a canyon at our neighbor’s ranch. Once we saw a moose by the highway while driving to town.
Last weekend we saw wildlife in an unusual place.

We had stopped in a little town in Wyoming, Medicine Bow, population less than 300 as I recall the sign said. We parked in front of a church. We got out of the truck to stretch our legs. Sugar walked up the street toward a house next to the church. It had a fenced yard.

“Look,” she exclaimed, “They have a pet deer.”

I looked. Sure enough, there was a deer laying in the back yard. It was very still. I told her it was a statue. She pointed out that it was chewing. Sugar quietly approached the fence. She wanted a better look. She has a way with animals.

Suddenly, the deer rose up and jumped over the fence.

“Dang,” I thought, “Sugar scared the pet deer out of the yard. Those people will be upset.”

But there were no people to upset. The house was vacant. There was a foreclosure notice on the door.

Then Sugar noticed something else. There were twin fawns emerging from the garage to join their mother. The mother deer and her babies had made a home in the unoccupied house.

The foreclosure notice indicates that those deer had not made their mortgage payments for awhile. Deer can be very irresponsible financially.

30,000 Selfies

As I was waiting in the Department of Motor Vehicles with ticket number 234, which meant I was there for awhile, I sat across from a family consisting of what appeared to be a father, mother, and their daughter, Kim Kardashian.  I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking that Kim K’s father is deceased.  You might also be wondering why she would register her vehicles in Colorado.  So allow me to clarify that this young woman was not actually Kim K of reality TV fame, rather, she was a Kim K wannabe.  

As the purported father read a book, the mother was talking to her daughter about, well, about the daughter.  The daughter was in her late teens or early twenties.   She was not so independent as to go all by herself to the DMV.  However, she was willing to accompany her parents and to bless those of us in the general public with her presence.

As she talked to her mother, she did not look at her mother.  Instead, she arranged her head in various cute poses and tried varying facial expressions as she took pictures of herself with her cell phone.  Suddenly elated, she informed her mother (and the rest of us in the large waiting room) that she was five pictures short of 30,000.  That inspired her to quickly take five more pictures of herself so as to reach that noteworthy goal.

I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.  I inquired with true interest, “How long have you had your cell phone?”

Unabashed, she happily answered, “I got this about eight months ago.”  She said it like she had accomplished something admirable, like climbing Mt. Everest.  She also volunteered to me that she and her friends seldom text because a person’s facial expression says so much that they simply send selfies to each other.  She was pleased to have the opportunity to clue me in on what the cool kids do.  

I quickly did some math in my head.  I commented, “If you had your phone for ten months, that would be about 100 selfies a day, for 3,000 per month, but you did that in only eight months.  Wow!”

The selfie-taker proudly exclaimed, “I know!”

Her father jumped in, “That sounds about right.”  I suppose he was agreeing with my estimate of relentlessly taking selfies at a rate in excess of 100 per day.

I am writing this as sort of a public service announcement.  I want you, Dear Readers, to grasp the pace which must be kept in order to properly stay up with the champion narcissists.  Not just everybody can take 100 plus selfies a day.  It takes dedication.  It takes someone who enjoys looking at herself or himself.  It is a difficult task indeed.  If one misses a day, one would need to take 200 pics the next day just to keep up.  

I am fixin’ to take my first selfie.  Only 29,999 to go. As a competitive person, I am thinking that if I cut back on my law practice, I could maybe break that little gal’s record. I think I could do it in seven months. Try to top that!

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