Living the life of a hitchhiker having been picked up by a car full of clowns – i find myself in a lot of crazy stories. 

In fact, i would say that my life is kinda like swinging on monkey bars if the “bars” were wacko, hard-to-believe scenarios that i keep grabbing on for dear life because the alternative is to fall down and break my crown and the “swinging” more like Indy 500 high-speed crashes into hay bales.

That may be too many metaphors.

That girl. i hate that girl.

But it brings back memories. Bad memories.

i always sucked at the monkey bars.

i was that short, fat kid on the playground with vertigo issues and just somehow climbing UP to the stupid monkey bars was in itself a monumental endeavor, let alone hanging from them and “swinging” and propelling myself forward from bar to bar.

How did little Vicki DO that? That skinny little princess with her waist-length blonde curls would spring up to the bars and begin swinging as if she weighed nothing, her long blond hair bouncing. Bar to bar she would swing and when she reached the end, she’d start back again. Somehow she made monkey bars into an art form while i usually just hung there, sweating and white-knuckled, for about 10 seconds trying in vain to NOT LOOK DOWN while my stupid hand refused to let go and grab the next bar. Eventually, my chubby arms would give out and my hands would slip and i would come crashing down, often spraining an ankle and/or knocking the wind out of me.

Once, i landed so hard i saw stars and couldn’t breathe properly for 15 minutes.

i thought i was gonna die. 

Yeah, monkey bars and gravity….not my thing.

Flash forward to today, and i’m visiting friends in Oregon. They have moved recently to a beautiful ranch and were just finishing the process of settling down with their three llamas and six goats and one sheep. Now, none of this story has anything to do with playground antics – although they do have an actual, bonafide playground on their huge property. They’ve got slides and swings and all kinds of things to climb on but no evil monkey bars making it the coolest playground ever.

But this story has nothing to do with playgrounds. In fact, i’m not sure why i told you that story except maybe to start an anti-monkey bar movement to spare future chubby kids with weak arms the same torture and future therapy sessions they will need to recover from the PTSD of their own playground horror stories.  No…this story has to do with one of of the neighbors of my country-loving friends: Farmer John.

Farmer John and The Cattle Rustlers

Now Farmer John isn’t quite right, if ya know what i mean. He had the equivalent of being dropped on his head as a baby and now was, in the words of the straw-chewing ranchers down at the local feed store, a “bit slow”. But Farmer John was fully capable of taking care of himself and he loved his cows. He thought of them as his babies and took tender care of them, feeding them every morning and talking to them while they ate. Those cows were his life.

At least that was the talk down at the restaurant where Farmer John ate breakfast for free every Friday morning.

But when my friends moved in, they found themselves in a little piece o’ country drama.

Seems Farmer John had been forcibly removed by his no ‘count nephews and placed in a home for the feeble by a two-doc hold. The nephews did this in order to take over the ranch and sell it and keep the money for themselves. Yep! Them no good offspring done locked him up and are selling off his cattle one by one RIGHT out from under him! Now, we gotta do somethin’ ’bout THAT. P’tang!

You pick it up! No…YOU pick it up!

i’m pretty sure if there were any interactions with them no ‘count ranch thieves it went down just like this scene in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

(Now THERE’S some ACTING!!!!!)

And so the story went.

Well, there was no way the community was going to stand for that kind of treatment of one of their own.  So all of the big-hearted ranchers got together and came up with a plan.

Step one: Set up a jar at the local store to collect change and raise money for a lawyer.

Step two: Go to Farmer John’s ranch and take the remaining cows off his property so them “no-good offspring” can’t get them anymore and disperse them amongst the neighboring ranches to hide them until that city slicker lawyer could get Farmer John out of lockup.

In effect:  Cattle rustling. 

And that’s what they did. A lawyer who largely donated his time, or perhaps was paid by some anonymous millionaire rancher (the story gets muddy here) started working on getting Farmer John free while the newly appointed rustlers snuck on to the property and stole all the cows.

Happy (drunk) cows on hop mash

My friends got the bulk of the cows on their property because they didn’t have many animals to begin with.

But from the start, there were problems.

Their land is mountainous, and the grass is thin and sparse. They quickly realized there wasn’t enough cow food on their land as they saw what grass they did have disappear. They had to supplement the food and trucking in hay became a cost they hadn’t counted on. My resourceful friend did some research and found that hop “mash” – the leftover hop goop that is made when brewing beer – is nutritional enough to feed to cows. And being near hipster Portland Oregon, the birthplace of microbrews, there was an overabundance of free hop mash to be had so bam! Mic drop! You got cow food. All one had to do was bring a truck and arrive early because hop goop was apparently in large demand and it was first come first serve!

So, the cows are now happily eating grass AND getting drunk on hop mash (not sure that’s actually what does happen when a cow eats hop goop but i like to think they were extra happy cows), but now there was a second problem.

It seems cows, (especially when they are drunk), can do a lot of damage to soft, squishy mountain land and they quickly began to tear up the ranch’s delicate fields.

The drunk cows had to go.

But where? Farmer John was still fighting for his freedom with his free (or well-paid. Hard to tell.) lawyer and them no-gooders were still lurking around trying to steal the cows and the land. (No-one every SAW them but i imagine they wore black hats. All bad cowboys wear black hats.) So the ranchers and farmers all got together and decided a couple of them could take a few more cows and once again, the cows were picked up and “rustled” to other ranches leaving my friend’s pastures to recover and grow back. (Should take about a year…not sure when drunk cows are involved.)

Time goes by. i lose track of the Drunk Cow Rustling Saga.

Then, a few months later, i find myself back at the ranch and i ask how Farmer John is doing.

“He is…..out. ” My friend said.

“Out? Back home? That’s great!” i exclaim. And it really is. i am thrilled that the good guys (who always wear white hats) have driven the black-hatted no good offspring outta Dodge. But…what about the drunk cows?

“And the cows? i bet Farmer John is so happy to have his babies back!”

“Ummm…it turns out…those weren’t his cows.”

Not. His. Cows.

This is confusing even for sober cows.


Turns out, another neighbor (we’ll call him Nefarious Joe)  with nefarious intentions on getting his cows fed for free, and who possibly also wore a black hat, had told everyone these cows were Farmer John’s babies and needed nurturing (and hop mash) and oversaw the whole cattle rustling. The result? His cows were getting fat (and drunk) at other peoples’ expense.


THAT guy plays a LONG game.

So now the gig is up, Farmer John has apparently won his freedom with the help of his free or very expensive lawyer, Nefarious Joe is eighty-sixed out of the Cattle Ranchers’ Breakfast Club and the drunk/illegitimate cows?


i like to think of it as Adoption Day at PetCo. Where all the happy cows went to happy new homes where they lived happily ever after.


  1. That’s hilarious! Who in their right mind gets other people to steal their cows? What a twisty plot–it didn’t end anywhere near how I thought it would, but that’s real life for ya!

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