July 2. 2021
The first ranch auction I remember attending was when I was about five. Dad and I went together and he registered me as a bidder so I could bid on the one thing I had my heart set on—an Easy Bake oven. Dad had to hold me during the bidding so I could be high enough to be seen when I raised my hand. I was ecstatic when I won the bid, although I doubt if too many of the ranchers attending really wanted it!
Many auctions have a ladies’ club come in to sell lunch. I guess that is the equivalent of a food truck in the Sandhills. I remember the menu usually consisted of Sloppy Joe’s, baked beans, potato chips, various types of pie, and coffee or soda. There was seldom much of a place to sit while eating so you just perched wherever you could while balancing your paper plate.
My parents sold their ranch well over 20 years ago and had an auction in October. The entire family had worked hard for several weeks getting ready and when we woke up the morning of the sale it was miserably cold and snowing. Despite the weather we had a very good crowd show up. In fact, one man called and asked if we could be sure Dad’s old Ford pickup sold later in the sale. His teenaged son wanted to buy it as a father/son project and the weather was slowing them down. We did hold it back and the young man was able to purchase it. The sale was a big success!
Until next time,
June 24, 2021
Back to my horse in the snow. One time Dad and I were heading out from the barn to work cattle. Dad was a ways in front of Dixie and me (remember she was a small horse). It was winter with quite a bit of snow on the ground. Who knew that horses can get snowballs on their hooves? Dixie fell down. It was a gentle fall and she just folded her legs up underneath her and I had plenty of time to get my feet out of the stirrups. I pulled my legs up and waited for our slow descent to stop. When it did, my horse turned her head back to check on me! It was like she wanted to make sure I was uninjured. Once she was satisfied, she got up and began moving.
In other news, I am working on cleaning out my parents’ house. It puts me in mind of ranch auctions. Next time I’ll talk about those.
June 10, 2021
I’ve been gone for awhile. My 93-year-old father was suffering from dementia and pneumonia and he passed away. It is a blessing because he never would have wanted to live that way and suffer. And, at 93, he had lived a long and wonderful life! My sister, mother, and I wanted to give him a fitting funeral so we planned it in a tiny Nebraska Sandhill town with burial in the cemetery where his grandfather was the first to be buried. Of course we had to decide what kind of funeral to give an old cowboy. We decided on one in the little town church with music provided by a man who plays guitar and sings. But the thing that I liked the most was that we had a local rancher bring two horses. One was saddled with Dad’s saddle and we put his well worn cowboy boots backward in the stirrups. That is often used in military funerals, but it means he is looking backwards (in this case at his family and friends). It was pretty touching. Oh, and we buried him with his Stetson.
Until next time,
May 12, 2021
Riding a horse is always more pleasant in the summer than the winter. However, in the summer, Dixie liked to, shall we say, stop and taste the sweet clover. And when I say stop, I mean stop. Instantly. We could be trotting or galloping past a small field of clover and she would stop and start eating. No amount of prodding would get her moving again until she would decide to, usually with a mouth of clover to snack on.
A side effect of Dixie’s “clover tooth” was a rotund physique. And the plumper she became, the harder it was to keep the saddle from slipping off to her side. We had to keep her locked in the corral to keep her from making herself sick by overeating. When we did that she got even worse about stopping for a tasty morsel. She was like an addict. With that, I am reminded of another movie. Have you ever watched Troop Beverly Hills with Shelley Long as a troop leader selling cookies in front of Weight Watchers.
Next time I will tell you about Dixie in the snow.
May 1, 2021
At different times of the year, a rancher must round up the cattle to move them to another pasture. In the late spring we would move them to the summer range, our largest pasture. It had three windmills so the cattle wouldn’t have to walk so far for a cool drink. In Dangerous Revelations Dillon takes Taylor and Carly with him when he goes to check that the windmills work. But I digress. To herd them to the new pasture, we would mount our horses and keep them moving in the right direction. There was usually only three of us. My dad, me, and one other. Sometimes my mom would help, but we would often have a neighbor man helping us. We’d have one rider in the back, and one on the left and another on the right.
My horse, Dixie, was a well trained but ornery cross between a quarter horse and a Shetland pony. A Shetland is considerably smaller than a quarter horse. Dixie wasn’t a lot smaller than other horses but enough Dad always told me to be careful and not let a bull hit her on the side as he might knock her over.
I had nothing to fear! When an irritated bull would approach and act menacing, Dixie would whirl and face him. If he lowered his head and meant to hit her she would simply reach over and bite him! That would back him off. (I admit to using the same fighting technique with my big sister as a kid.)
Now, I’m going to write more on this subject next time. Until then watch the movie City Slickers for a fun and exaggerated example of a cattle drive.
April 22, 2021
I was looking through a thumb drive for a document I need when I came upon something unexpected. In 2010, I was taking Fiction Writing in college and I wrote a short story, “Armed and Dangerous”. I had forgotten all about it. As I read it, I found many similarities to Dangerous Revelations. If you read both, you’ll figure out that I must never want to be locked in a chicken house. I thought some of you might enjoy it, so I am attaching it.
April 10, 2021
I come from a long line of strong independent women. My great-great grandmother was a widow when she loaded up her boys and headed for the Cherokee Land Race. It must have been frightening yet exciting. But she did what she had to do to support her young family. In Dangerous Revelations, Carly is just this type of woman.
She is fiercely protective of young Taylor and stands by Dillon’s side when he needs her help. And in one confrontation with a dangerous man, she takes a chance and grabs the first heavy item—a fire extinguisher—to knock the man out to save her mother and Taylor.
Carly is a teacher and seizes her happily ever after by leaving her teaching job in Portland, Oregon and applying for a much different one at a K-8 one room school. Although they are disappearing, one room schools do still exist. I attended one and my sister taught at one. So writing about this brought sweet memories to mind. The school below is the one my sister taught at and was called Well Valley.
Pretty desolate, huh? It can be. In fact, when I was in upper elementary we had a prairie fire that started at our school due to burning trash and high wind. The school was not in danger due to wind direction, but we couldn’t reach the volunteer firefighters because they were all in Good Friday services and the church had no phone. So, we grabbed buckets of water and burlap sacks and started fighting the flames alongside our teacher in a dress, hose, and pumps. That’s what country teachers do!
I hope you check out the NPR series I linked to. I intend to.
April 9, 2021
Heroes don’t always wear capes — sometimes they wear cowboy boots and hats and ride horses. In Dangerous Revelations, Dillon Johnson is just such a hero. He is a single father of a 6-year-old girl, Taylor. In Chapter Two, Taylor can’t sleep because she misses her recently deceased grandmother. When Dillon sees her coming downstairs, he holds out his arms to her.
“What’s the matter, sweet pea? Can’t sleep?” Brushing back her long hair from her face, Dillon picked her up and sat her on his lap, wrapping both arms around her.As said by Dillon Johnson in Dangerous Revelations
I wanted to write a hero who is sensitive and kind, yet who will do anything to look after those that he loves. Sometimes, it is fun when men are speechless. When he first meets Carly, he finds himself staring at her with his mouth open and his daughter has to prod to behave like a host. Later, he is afraid he has stuck his foot in his mouth when he tells her she is sexy.
I hope you will particularly like his role at the end of Chapter Eighteen. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but I will say that when Dillon knows his family is in danger, he urges his horse into the fastest gallop that no fence can stop, thankful that he took his rifle with him.
You’ll have to let me know what you think. Is Dillon a perfect hero?
April 8, 2021
I am Jacki Ring, author of the soon to be released Dangerous Revelations. This romantic suspense novel will be available on April 14th, although it is now available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In this book, Dillon Johnson is reeling from the death of his beloved stepmother Paula. When her will is read, he finds she has not only had a daughter he knew nothing about, but also gave her up for adoption. Paula’s will had left a bequest to this young woman, Carly James. Carly, upon receiving word of the bequest, travels from Oregon to Dillon’s remote Nebraska ranch to learn more about her birth mother. Upon meeting, they experience an intense attraction toward one another. As they become acquainted, however, strange men threaten them and bring violence into their lives. It all seems to be connected to Paula’s journals. But why?
I had a lot of fun writing this book. I grew up on a Nebraska Sandhill ranch and I am proud of that part of my past. It is also becoming an increasingly rare way of life. According to the USDA the number of US farms steeply declined from 1935 until the 1970s and continues to decline today. I am hoping that the realistic description of ranch life as the setting will not only entertain you but also make you aware of this wonderful way of life. If it intrigues you, I hope you will follow this blog to find more pictures and stories about a rancher’s life.
The rural setting requires that the characters be independent when trouble arrives. If the sheriff is in his office, it would take him a good half an hour to arrive. If they are out in the field it could easily take far longer. The roads can be unimaginable for those used to wide paved roads. I am including a picture of what I drove on every day to high school. And this is one of the better roads! Many are a single lane of washboard gravel where if you top 30-40 mph it can be dangerous.
In Dangerous Revelations, though, when trouble is imminent, help is just around the bend in the form of good friends and neighbors. The people of the Nebraska Sandhills rely on one another, no questions asked. Just like in the book, people like Jan and Bob step up to help out in any way they ask. This is why I dedicated the book to the “strong, independent men and women of the Nebraska Sandhills.”
Until next time,