You sly old pony–
you can open any gate. . .
will work 4 green grass.
Poor St. Francis,
he never knew such outrage in Italy:
Patron Saint of the Ladder Ranch,
animals, and the natural world.
His statue stands guard in our yard,
watching over birds, even the grouse,
the eagles, the robins, and it seems,
ravens, crows and magpies.
He looks out for cattle, sheep,
horses, dogs, and those wild critters.
He sees deer, elk, antelope.
St. Francis, please care for
the bats, the bees, and butterflies—
maybe not mosquitoes!
No patron saint for them.
So here stands his likeness,
concrete birds upon his fist.
In summer, actual bird poop
paints stigmata hands and feet.
But now, in the depths of winter,
in cold winds and drift
poor Francis stoically endures,
waist-deep in snow-white robes.
There was lots of llama drama
At the shearing shed tonight,
Mama Beulah and Maria
Put up a worthy fight.
“Can’t you see it’s cold out,
Can’t you see our frosty breath?
It’s not weather fit for shearing.
No fleece could bring our death!”
“We have barns to give you shelter,
We have cozy straw for bed,
There will be no frozen llamas,
You have no need for dread”
“But we can see those rams
Who have lost their wooly coats,
They no longer look majestic,
They look more like hairy goats.”
“Step right up here, ladies,
To the Ladder Ranch salon.
You’ll soon sport the latest style,
Your wavy locks will soon be gone.”
“No, we like our flowing locks.
We like it long and swirly,
We like it warm and thick.
Our best look is llama curly”
“Your new look will be most stylish.
Your new look will be most sleek.
You’ll have the latest, greatest ‘dos,
Your llama glamour all will seek.”
“Whoa, what is all this racket?
What is this clank and clatter?
We don’t want a crew cut hair cut!
Our opinion doesn’t matter?!”
“Never mind those four strong guys,
Just ignore that noisy shearer,
Lie right down here on the platform.
There’s no need for fear here.”
“Wait, I’m on my back now!
You’ve stretched me stem to stern!
Those blades are on my skin!
Are you sure that it won’t burn?”
“Don’t struggle so, my llama,
Soon this shearing will be done.
From your fleece you’ll soon be parted,
And your hide will soon see sun.”
“No—I won’t take this lying down,
It will make this llama sad.
Why, this humiliation
Just makes me spitting mad!”
“Now you can look just lovely,
With your new stylish trendy ‘do,
You can join your sheep friends,
With a cut that’s cute and new!”
“No, I don’t want this summer haircut,
Can’t you tell that it’s still cold!
I don’t like those noisy clippers
I don’t like this strongarm hold!”
“We can let her go now,
Her shearing is complete.
Oh, yuck! What is this vile goo
That’s spattered on my feet?!”
“That’s my mama llama spit,
You deserve that sticky blast.
Maybe next year you’ll remember
And this trim will be my last!”
Yup, it was lots of llama drama
At the Ladder Ranch tonight,
If you don’t mind a little spit
They’re quite the stylish sight!
The holidays are here,
the year is almost gone.
Sunset’s coming sooner.
Long nights, they linger on.
Christmas on the Ladder Ranch
Brings us gifts galore.
Family gathers ‘round us
While Yuletide fires roar.
Deep within the meadows—
Summer’s rush to green has passed.
Round bales stacked like coins,
Winter’s wealth, its shadows cast.
Fair weather birds have fled,
but winter sounds abound,
brave trills of chirping chorus
echo bird-song all around.
Coyotes add their yips and howls
and wail their eerie cries
which echo through the hills
making hackles rise
on man and beast alike.
Battle Creek glows with icy sheen.
The stream murmurs, cracks, groans—
add to winter’s subtle keen.
But here beside the fire,
with its crackle and its roar,
we’re warm and well and happy,
with all we need and more.
There’s children’s cheery laughter–
they cry and yell and shout,
like to scare the coyotes
as they run and tear about.
There’s cows and sheep and horses.
There’s canines large and small
dreaming Border collie dreams
and guard dogs watching all.
The cows must fill their bellies
with grass hay long since cut,
and raked and baled and scattered
‘long the tractor’s snowy rut.
They’ve calves to grow within them—
Throughout the winter’s cold
and await the season’s turning.
Winter Solstice comes and goes.
And ewes upon the desert
munching daily corn,
awaiting warmth in springtime
when their babies will be born.
In Battle Mountain’s folds
deer and elk have bedded down
in hollows under oak brush
there’s shelter that they’ve found.
We thank the Lord for blessings
for His creatures great and small
for all of those we care for–
Please Lord, bless us all!
We are grateful for our friends
and kin, found both far and near,
from Ladder Ranch to you and yours–
Merry Christmas! Yuletide Cheer!