Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

We Came for the Giraffes

Fourteen years ago, Cowboy and I came to Glen Rose, Texas for the very first time.  As big time animal lovers, we had heard about Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and decided to make an overnight trip of it. We had absolutely no idea that one little overnight stay would change the course of our future.

On our day at Fossil Rim, we took a behind the scenes tour, rode around in an open-air Jeep, snapped tons of pictures (with actual film!), and made memories at every turn.  And then we saw them.  The majestic giraffes.

A combination of gangly grace, long eyelashes, and sticky sweet tongues.  I had never been so close to these amazing creatures, and I was quickly falling head over heels in love.  Our guide, the legendary Jan Bussey, parked near the herd and shared her knowledge and passion for Fossil Rim while we hand fed these beauties.

Oh my stars.  I think I could have parked there all day head pointed up, hands outstretched, smile plastered across my face, and heart leaping for joy.  I had found my spot.

Cowboy and I never forgot that trip. In fact, living in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex,  Fossil Rim became our go-to daytrip for birthdays, anniversaries, or just a day out.  We brought friends and family.  We became ambassadors, telling anyone who would listen about the landscape and critters of Fossil Rim, most especially my beloved giraffes.

Not too long after we began visiting Glen Rose, Cowboy and I started looking for land, an escape from the city.  We looked far and wide, even as far north as Oklahoma.  We saw little pieces and big pieces of land.  Some with houses, some without, and some with houses that weren’t long for this world.  Looking became our weekend occupation, as we bumped along miles and miles of country roads.

And then one day, Cowboy looked at me and said, “You know, I’m not sure why we’re looking all over the place.  Wherever we go, we are going to have to drive to Fossil Rim, so we might as well be close.”

Have I told you that man is a genius?  So just like that our search was narrowed to the tippy top of the hill country, where the deer and the giraffes roam.  

And the rest is, as they say, history.  Ten years ago we bought our dream place, and seven years ago we built our barndominium and moved into Wild Horse Valley.  We filled it with our own little zoo of horses, donkeys, cats, and dogs. And we still love to visit Fossil Rim, and even volunteer when we can.  In all these years, it still takes my breath away.

In fact, October is one of my absolute favorites at the Rim.  The weather is cooler, the animals are frisky, and if you time it just right you can catch the European Red Deer in rutting season and hear their soulful bugling across the park.

My Farmtastic Life - Giraffes at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
A friendly giraffe coming to say hello. If you look closely you’ll see several in the background, and also a gaggle of European Red Deer relaxing in the shade.

It’s easy to take for granted sharing your town with giraffes, rhinos, and cheetahs, but it is truly a gift.  If you are in the area, I encourage you drive on out to the Rim, soak up some sunshine, and sit in wonder of our tall neighbors. But I must say, be careful.  You may come for the giraffes and find yourself staying for so much more.

P.S. A version of this post was published in the Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

Musical Cars

This weekend I was lucky enough to have a dear friend visit the farm for a farmgirl getaway weekend.  We floated in the pool, took pics of the critters, explored the surrounding small towns, and ate some scrumptious goodies (boy did we do some sampling).  We bonded, laughed, shared personal stories, and discovered that our lives are similar in ways we never imagined. To say it was a great weekend is an understatement.  

And as quickly as she arrived, it was time to say goodbye.  And that is when I saw my friend show grace, compassion, and humor beyond measure.  (We’ll call that lesson one in this tale of three lessons.)

A few things you need to know to put this next part in perspective:

  1. We live nearly two hours from the airport, so leaving on time is imperative for making flights.  
  2. I have a bit of a sensitive, and at times, unpredictable stomach.  And as we all know, when stomachs command your attention, well there is just no arguing.
  3. My friend had a morning flight.

We had decided we needed to leave at 7:15 a.m. in order for her to her make her flight home. As I mentioned above, we had partaken in some amazing food the day before as we sampled our way through Hico, Texas. At 4 a.m. on the morning of departure all that sampling demanded that I pay the price and the gurgling and cramping started.  (We’ll just stop right there with those details, for all of our sakes.)  

Surely I would feel better by 7:15 a.m.  I just had to.  To boot, Cowboy had been out at a prior commitment and would be on his way home at this time, so he could not take her.  Uber – well let’s just get serious for a minute.  We live out, way out.  So clearly I had to get it together.

So we loaded into the car, and not even 5 miles into the 90 mile drive I started with the deep breathing trying to calm my queasy stomach. Think lamaze breathing – not my finest moment. My sweet friend never showed one ounce of concern for her flight, but rather was more concerned about me.   God bless her.

“We’ll make it. But I might have to make a pit stop at my parents’ house. We’ll pass them on the way,” I squeaked out between huffs and puffs.

I slammed into my parents’ driveway, flew out the car and woke the house up at 7:30 a.m. as I dashed to the watercloset, leaving my dear sweet gracious gal pal waiting in the car.

Then lesson number two came from this grand adventure – my family will do anything for each other.  My dad got dressed lickety split and said, “Let me take her. I can make it.  You need to stay where you are going to be okay.”

Musical cars here we come.  So my smiling friend hugged me goodbye, swapped her stuff to Dad’s truck, and off they went.  Now to say my guilt was running high was an understatement.  This was my friend.  I wanted to take her to the airport.  

After 15 minutes of hand wringing, I learned my dad and friend were still in town at the gas station filling up.  My stomach seemed to be calming down, and I knew I needed to get her to the airport ASAP.  So, you guessed it, I sped to the gas station and we swapped cars once again.  We were on our way bumping and speeding along, laughing at the craziness.  

Then Cowboy called. He was tracking me on my phone and saw that I had stopped at my parents.  He knew I wasn’t feeling well.  He was just 20 minutes up the road, headed our way, and he could take over and get her there faster than any of us. Plus, Cowboy knows about 20 ways to get from point A to point B, so if we had any chance of helping her make her flight, he was the man for the job.

So the third lesson of the trip, the lesson I know the best, Cowboy is AMAZING.  We met up, swapped once more (man her luggage had the frequent flyer miles going at this point), hugged (again) and said goodbye (again – with loads of laughter), and Cowboy got her all the way to the airport in plenty of time.  And I’m super glad he did, because I didn’t even make it all the way back to the farm before my stomach commanded yet another scenic side trip.

Not one time did my friend complain. Not one time did she make me feel guilty.  In fact she told me later how much she enjoyed her visits with my dad and Cowboy.  Gosh, I just adore her.

Folks, that is true grace and compassion in action across the board.  To say that I am grateful, well that is an understatement.  It was a reminder of the friends and family in my life that are blessings to me each day.  

You just never know when a little bit of patience, love, and willingness to chip in is going to touch someone deep down where it counts.  Oh, and let’s just say I’m back on a diet of grilled chicken, rice, and veggies. Yum! 

Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

A Tourist In My Own Town

I’ve had a love affair with adorable town squares for as long as I can remember.  Cowboy has often said the unicorn I am hunting in life is a grand old farmhouse on a hundred acres in the middle of a town square.  (Yes, most definitely a unicorn!)

Glen Rose dinosaur bench
Sit a spell in Glen Rose.

But I have to say that where we live now, just outside our quaint little town at the tippy top of the Texas hill country, is just about perfect. We’re just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Glen Rose town square – filled with delightful shops, good eats, and quirky findings that make it special.

Track in Time Too
Tracks in Time Too is one of my favorites – filled with industrial, farmhouse, and just plain fun finds.

Whenever Cowboy and I have guests, we often take them into town and show them all that is Glen Rose. Heck, we used to be those tourists dreaming of finding our own spot. So on this gloriously sunny, albeit slightly windy day, with a little time off, I decided to be a tourist in my own town. Just me, myself, and I.

I drove on down to the square, promptly parked the Jeep, and hopped out with a spring in my step.  No time clock. No agenda.  Just me and the town I’ve come to love.  I wandered from shop to shop – trying on clothes, laughing at funny signs, looking through stacks of old books and farmhouse antiques.

Paisley Reese
New to the square – cowgirl chic Paisley Reese was filled with unique and fun clothes.

The shop keepers were all gracious as they asked if I needed help, shared their post Christmas sales, and wished me Happy New Year.  There were quaint little parks and tucked in between buildings and historic old structures still decked out with holiday flair. And when you really looked, you could see that our little treasured square holds genealogy secrets, dinosaur footprints at the museum (yes, we are the dinosaur capital of Texas), and art galleries.  How perfectly farmtastic! There is just something about a square that makes this farmgirl’s heart sing.

River House Grill
One of my favorite good eats – The River House Grill. The Harvest Flatbread is DIVINE!

Sometimes it’s easy to miss what’s right in front of us with all the glory of the Internet and ease of Amazon.  (Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to admit that Amazon Prime can change a farmgirl’s life. You can even order a muck rake online; trust me, I’ve done it).  But today was not about the pure task of shopping, it was about the act of experiencing where I live.  Talking to people, supporting the town, and basking in gratefulness.  Because I am exactly where I am meant to be.

As you get ready to jump into 2017, I encourage you to take a look around at where you are and become a tourist in your own town.  Maybe you live in a big city and have amazing museums or restaurants.  Maybe you live in the suburbs with walking and biking trails that just spur the imagination.  Wherever you are, find the beauty.

And if you ever find yourself in Glen Rose, stop by the square and do a little strolling.  It’s good for the soul.

Adventures Away From the Farm · Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Where Did January Go?

Somehow we’ve lost track of time here at the farm, and it’s already February. We can hardly believe it’s been since early December that we took the time to stop, sit down, and actually write a blog. Yikes! The critters are definitely scolding me for not sharing all of their delightful antics with their adoring fans. So what has been going on with farm life since the holidays?  Here are a few of our latest adventures.

Farm Photo - Busted gate
River knocks the gate off the hinges. Nightmare investigates.

The great escape – River the mustang got crafty and busted out of his stall one night.  While he used force to knock his gate off the hinges, he used is agile lips to unlock the stalls of his two brothers.  Who needs opposable thumbs?  We awoke to a gelding party at the hay, while poor Suzy Q watched on.  Clearly this was a boys adventure.  And just in case fun was not enough, in his great escape River managed to finagle a minor injury to his eye, and so we helped the vet to have a merry Christmas.  He’s healed.  Gates are fixed.  And new gate locks installed, thumbs required.

Cat Photo - Chip
The tough but lovable little Chip. Happily using his box again and dining like a king.

Litter box bingo – Chip the kitty ended up with a bladder blockage.  How did we know?  Poor cat was howling and licking like he had lost his mind or was desperate to find a girlfriend.  Freaked this farm mama out!  And yes, in case you were wondering, these things happen in the middle of the night. How else is a cat to gain his person’s attention?  The result was 48 hours in the kitty hospital and a new food.  Since feeding seven cats separately is not an option (remember the EDS commercial where cowboys herded cats), the $60-per-bag cat food has turned dinner time from kibble to ooo-la-la delicious for all the farm felines.



Adventures Away From the Farm - NYC
Cowboy and I visit the big city at Christmas.


Country mice visit the city – December also offered Cowboy and me the opportunity to get away for a couple of days, so we headed to New York City (just imagine the voice of the Pace Picante guy saying that.)  It’s been on my bucket list for years to see the city all lit up for Christmas.  And let me tell you, it was definitely spectacular.  Cowboy must have looked like a trustworthy southerner, as he was often asked to take folks’ pictures and even for directions on the subway.  I guess they don’t think a cowboy will run off with their phone and will actually take the time to stop to help them figure out how to navigate the maze.  He did not disappoint!

We had a fabulous time, but these two country mice were more than happy to wave farewell to the big city and settle back into Texas.  Cowboy’s face lit up as we landed back in the lone star state and drove back home to the farm, population 2 humans and 16 critters.

So we welcome in the New Year (although a little late), and hope you’ll stick with us through 2015 as we continue to share stories that inspire us and make us laugh, and occasionally offer a tip or two for country living.

Wishing you a blessed 2015 from our farm to yours.

Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories


To quote L.M. Montgomery, author of one of my favorite books, Ann of Green Gables, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” And here in north central Texas, that means that festival season is in full swing.  With a reprise from the heat, blue skies overhead, and a cool breeze in the air, our wacky and wonderful small towns put on their best show-and-tell in celebration of fall.

Today, Cowboy and I had one of our farmtastic adventures away from the farm.  We took a stroll through the Clifton, Texas Fall Fest, and oh my, my how it made us smile.  It was everything that makes a fall festival great, with the perfect dose of Texas tossed in. Here are our top picks for what makes a perfect fall festival.

  1. Classic car show – You guessed it.  This is one of Cowboy’s requirements, but it’s super fun to take a step back in time and dream.  There’s nothing like the style of old rides.

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  2. Live music – The trio of GypsyBelle put their harmonies to work with toe-tapping favorites and their own originals.  Young and old sat around smiling and clapping. Just plain fun.
  3. Corn dogs – Yep, another cowboy fave.  However, I must admit he’s turned this farmgirl into a lover of the corn dog as well.
  4. Pumpkins and plants – Nothing says fall like displays of pumpkins and gourds.  Carved, painted, decorated, Charlie Brown was right, the pumpkin is simply great.
  5. Beautiful old buildings – As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for a town square, and  Clifton doesn’t disappoint with their old movie theater, rows of old buildings, and even an old jail that has been turned into the Cell Block Hotel.

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  6. Crafts and vendors – Admitedly, Cowboy refers to this as the “arts and crap” portion of any festival, but I love to see what creative ideas people bring.  Today brought tons of cute wood working, jewelry, and even the amazing street artist, Martin Martinez of CosmoUniversalArt.  Folks stayed huddled around Martin all day watching him create his amazing paintings in real-time.  (Even Cowboy was fascinated.)  And to make it totally Tex-ified, the Texas Farm Bureau had their wagon out showing us all why agriculture is critical to our future.

Before October escapes us, be sure to check out your the small towns where you live, and let us know your favorites.  We love to support local and small business, and that includes all things that make small towns and home towns great.

Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

Farmgirl Does Yoga

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, grace is definitely not my middle name.  Cowboy could tell you stories of my many trips and falls, and over the years I’ve learned to roll with it and simply laugh.  So when I decided to take a yoga class in town, it was with excitement and a supreme willingness to laugh at myself because I knew if one thing was true, it would definitely be amusing.

Having recently had a birthday, I decided it was time to use it as a little inspiration to focus on some new healthy habits.  I’ve started walking, and thought a class or two would be fun to add to the mix.  Being that I’ve always wanted to improve my balance, yoga sounded like the perfect fit.  Again, willingness to laugh required.

So I put on the yoga pants, which by the way should only be worn to an actual yoga class or at home, grabbed the yoga mat, and headed for class.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  I walked into a room full of ladies of all ages, shapes, and sizes who greeted me warmly.  “Okay, maybe this won’t be so bad,” I think.

Artsy music was playing in the background with requisite chirping birds,  strings, and pan flute.  In my head, all I could think was Yanni.  (Anyone else remember him?)  Scents of lavender wafted through the air, and a Namaste sign was sitting at the front of the room.  Can you picture it?  While soothing, this also just made me giggle on the inside, as it seemed so serious for the what I knew would be exercise shenanigans for me.

I found a spot in the back of the room in the corner.  I wanted as many walls to hold onto as possible.  Heck, I probably should have been doing this in a stall of some sort.    The lights lowered and the games began.  Standing, bending, stretching, sitting, bending, standing.  “Okay, I’m not dying yet,” I think as I start to relax.  Granted, touching my toes seems like a feat for Gumby, but I’m keeping up, somewhat.

Until, we start to go faster.  We (and by we, I mean everyone else), easily flows from one position to another.  They are on their stomachs, their feet, folding like origami with their feet in front of and behind them.  Holy batman, I can’t keep up.  I’m wrestling with one leg then the other, twisting myself into a pretzel.

Okay, we’re back to standing, and I thank my lucky stars that I picked a corner.  And then it happens. That quintessential Yoga pose – standing on one leg with the other leg lifted and foot against your calf (or heaven forbid your thigh).  I weebled and wobbled and couldn’t even get my toes past my ankle or off the floor. Combined with my arm on the wall, I think I created a new move called the tripod.

On top of that, we’re breathing in and out with this move and that, and I am quite sure I am breathing in when I’m supposed to be breathing out and vice versa.  On a side note, with all this breathing in and out all I can think about is Darth Vader, and again silence myself as I want to whisper to my neighbor, “Luke, I am your father.”

Class finally comes to a close and we are all laying on our mats eyes closed, meditating or praying. I’m praying and thanking God in heaven that I did not break anything.  When suddenly with my eyes shut something drops on my face. “Let’s not panic,” I tell myself.  I inhale deeply and realize the instructor has put a cloth over my eyes that is laced with lavender – and by lavender I mean an entire field.  “Don’t breathe, don’t breathe, don’t breathe,” I tell myself.

I lay there for what feels like an eternity, and then I swear I thought I heard instructions to twist your hips and stretch.  So there I am, flopped out on my mat, eyes covered, stretching away, legs twisted, when I hear lots of shuffling.  “Oh no, maybe I’m not supposed to be doing this,” I think.

So I ease the cloth off my face and sure enough everyone else is sitting up and doing some other stretch entirely.  I blush and think, “Don’t mind me, folks.  I haven’t a clue about this stuff.  However, if you need me to scoop a horse stall I can do that like an ace.”

Class finally ends with a group “namaste,” and which point I quell my inner desire to yell, “Yehaw!”  Everyone parts with well wishes and see-ya-next-times.  And I survived.  And I’ll likely do it again.

Maybe if i do enough yoga, I’ll be able to easily balance on fence rails or even shimmy across the ice to beak up frozen water troughs this winter.  A girl can dream, can’t she?

Farmtastic Photo - Yoga mat and cowgirl boots
Photos largely omitted to protect the innocent, namely me. A farmgirl does yoga. You get the gist.

P.S. – The local instructor was super nice, gracious, and welcoming.  This experience purely speaks to my athletic prowess, or lack thereof. 

Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

It’s Hip to Be Square

I’ve had a thing for small town squares as long as I can remember.  I love the nostalgia of it all.  The local mom-and-pop shops, the casual atmosphere, and the architecture of the buildings.  Life just seems simpler on a square.  Through the years as I’ve drug Cowboy from square to square through Texas and beyond, I’ve always thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to live in a town like this?”

Well since moving to the farm, now we do!  Granted, we’re several miles outside of town, but the square is close enough for a quick stroll, checking out the Saturday farmer’s market, or popping into my favorite shops for that perfect gift.  But I have to say one of my all time favorite activities every year is the Fourth of July Parade that comes right through town and passes in front of our courthouse.

When the patriotic music is playing and our town, state, and country pride is on display, it just about feels like you are in a Norman Rockwell painting. The kids bring bags to collect candy being thrown from the entries, vintage cars and tractors shine like new, and we all rally together for a few moments in pure happiness and thankfulness to live where we do.

So to honor my small town, here are some great photos from this year’s entries.  We’d love to hear how you celebrated the Fourth in your town, so please be sure to share your stories and photos, too!



P.S. – Cowboy jokes that my perfect spot in this world is 100 acres on a square.  Needless to say, we’ve yet to find that unicorn, but that is perfectly okay.  The farm makes me happier than I’ve ever been.

Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

Donkey Basketball

I love small town life for a whole host of reasons. The mom and pop businesses that dot the square and the main drag, the friendly greetings you get as you mosey about town, and neighbors helping neighbors. But who knew my small town would also host donkey basketball?

Yep, it’s true. On a recent weekday night, darn near the whole town turned out at the local school gym for a rousing game of donkey basketball. We all piled into the gym, and the bleachers were a buzz as we watched local leaders, school teachers, and public servants line up as they awaited their wild rides. And in they came. Adorable donkeys of all sizes complete with rubber shoes.

The hooting and hollering ensued as we all rooted for our favorites. Helmets on, the riders mounted their donkeys and began to pace up and down the court dribbling, carrying, and shooting basketballs. And just to be fair, I’m definitely using the word pace quite liberally here. If you’ve never spent much time around donkeys, what you might not know is that while they are smart and can be amazingly sweet, they definitely have minds of their own. This sometimes frustrating trait, made for a great night of entertainment.

So why in the world were donkeys playing basketball in our little town? Well for a good cause of course. Another part of small town life is the way folks are committed to helping each other, and this night the agenda was focused on kicking cancer (pun intended and emblazond on the t-shirts). The program started out honoring the cancer survivors, then the national anthem (and yes kids riding donkeys paraded around the flag), the pledge of allegiance, the Texas pledge (that’s how we roll around here), and a prayer. You can’t say we don’t take our events seriously. During halftime, a cake auction was held, and homemade goodies fetched hundreds of dollars for a great cause.

It was one of those nights that just made me smile. When I came home and fed the horses and donkeys, I had a little chat with Sweetie Pie, our resident donkey. We talked it over, and while she was supportive of her fellow donkeys, she made it very clear in no uncertain terms that basketball was not in her future. I guess we’ll save the basketball hoops for another day.

Donkey Photo - Sweetie Pie shows off her pearly whites
Sweetie Pie says, “No mam. There will be no donkey basketball at the farm. Smooches!”


P.S. – No donkeys were harmed in the making of this blog.

Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

From One Zoo to Another

Cowboy and I have been enjoying a little time off this week, and what do we go and do?  If you guessed go visit more animals, then you would be correct.  We just can’t help ourselves, but it seems that a good sanctuary, wildlife center, or zoo always gets our attention.

Today we visited the Fort Worth Zoo, which is one of the top five zoos in the country.  The big news at the zoo right now are the baby elephants, Belle and Bowie.  We made it in time for their viewing, and got to talk to one of the zookeepers where we learned that the elephant herd eats a thousand pounds of hay per day, along with bamboo and other treats!  And let me just tell you, in Texas hay can be like gold, especially in drought prone summers.  And the amount of poo they can generate? Let’s just say I’ll make sure to limit the complaining when scooping out horse stalls each day.

As amazing as a place as the Fort Worth Zoo is with natural habitats for their over 7,000 animals, I can’t help but think about how most of these guys and gals would be the happiest in their natural environment, but due to habitat loss and threats mostly from humans, they are at risk.  Many of the critters at the zoo are part of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that it’s about having a good time with the critters, so I rarely tend toward the serious, rather quite the opposite.  However, I’d just like to remind us all to take care of the critters in this world.  We really can learn so much from them, and it’s our responsibility to care for them.

So from our zoo to yours, give the critters a hug today, lend a helping hand to those who need it, and remember them in your Christmas donations and throughout the year.