A Brief Announcement

If you’re a Smashwords customer or would like to become one (sign-up is free!), they’re holding their annual End of the Year sale ending January 1.  Whatever format you like to use for electronic reading will probably be available.

As far as what I’m offering on their site, the first book, Darkness upon the Land, of my four-part series will be available at half off.  The second book, Wail of the Tempest, will be 25% off.  And just between you and me, prices will be going up after the first of the year, so this is your chance for a bargain!  Just click on the button below:

sun button

The third book of the four-parter will be available this spring.  More updates will come as its debut approaches!

Pig in a Pen


If you didn’t read last week’s post you’d better do that now to understand what I’m talking about this week.  This is part two, and unfortunately I don’t have room to repeat myself.

I will remind you Hubby let the hog’s owner know we had Porky on our place and could hold him until the owner got off work to come pick him up.  Well, we got a response we weren’t expecting, and it went something like this:

Cough!  Ahem, uh … how do I put it?  That pig ran off months ago, and we never saw him since.  We gave him up for dead and I took down his pen and housing.  So you see, we don’t even have a way to keep a pig anymore.”

And that’s how we became the proud owners of a potbellied pig.

Now the notion of keeping swine has been one we’ve entertained before, but only with the ultimate goal of raising bacon.  Learning that Piglet had been on the lam for at least half a year has raised my respect for him.  Yes, feral hogs are a reality where we live, but traveling in groups is part of how they survive.

Our lone-wolf porker not only foraged his own food and sought out shelter and avoided getting hit by cars, he evaded all the coyotes that prowl around here.  On that morning we found him, however, it was twenty-two degrees out (that’s negative-five for you Celsius people), and until the cats got involved he didn’t put up much resistance about moving in with the turkeys.

With winter setting in (we had a snowfall just a few days ago), he probably decided “This isn’t fun anymore.”  Piggy slept a lot on that first day we had him.  Now he’ll take off running if he feels such a notion.  We’ve built him a house out of straw (old hay bales … good insulation) and shine a heat light at its entrance.

I don’t think he’ll be plotting his next adventure right away.

Unless Choppers can become a grunt that teaches Tactical Coyote Evasion to the rest of the livestock, however, we don’t have much use for him that doesn’t involve heating a skillet.  But as I said, he’s earned my respect, which puts me in mind of the following joke:

A traveler spied a three-legged pig in a farmer’s yard.  He pulled into the driveway and knocked on the door of the house, and when the farmer opened it the traveler asked why that pig had three legs.  The farmer proceeded to praise the porker, calling him an exceptional hog and how it had saved them from a house fire and performed other wondrous exploits.  “That’s amazing,” the traveler responded, “but that still doesn’t tell me why it has three legs.”  The farmer stood straighter and solemnly replied, “Well, a pig that special, you don’t eat all at once!”

Don’t worry, we’ll try to find a good home for him.  In the meantime we’ll help him recover from his latest exploit.  Taking care of him brings me to mind of a lyric in this old-timey song:

All I need is a pig in a pen, and corn to feed him on.

All I need is a pretty little girl to feed him while I’m gone.

What a minute … aren’t I the one that qualifies as the pretty little girl?  Except….

Well, two out of three ain’t bad!


And now for a brief announcement:  If you’re a Smashwords customer or would like to become one (sign-up is free!), they’ll be holding their annual End of the Year sale beginning December 25 and ending January 1 in 2020.  Their e-books are available in a variety of formats.

The first book, Darkness upon the Land, of my four-part series will be available at half off.  The second book, Wail of the Tempest, will be 25% off.  And just between you and me, prices will be going up after the first of the year, so this is your chance for a bargain!  Just click on the button below:


The third book will be available this spring.  More updates will come as its debut approaches!


A Little Slice of Hog Heaven


When you live in the country, you never know what your next adventure is going to be.

As Hubby was getting ready to leave for work the other morning, I was thinking how I needed to post a blog in a couple of days and had no idea what the devil I was going to write about.  Wouldn’t you know the Lord provides in mysterious ways….

I kissed Hubby goodbye and topped off the cats’ food and ducked into the bathroom to wash up before starting my daily routine.  Two seconds after I closed the bathroom door, I heard the front door open.

I stuck my head back out.  Hubby had returned and informed me that one neighbor’s potbellied pig was in another neighbor’s pasture next to our house.

(Okay, let me define neighbors:  We can’t visit with other over the fence unless one of us trudges all the way across vast stretches of fields or through woods that separate us.  We can see the house roof of the neighbor who has a pasture next to us.  Pig neighbor’s house is on the other side of a hill, so we can’t even see it.)

Hubby called the pig’s owner, who had already left for work, and informed him we would keep pork-chops-on-the-hoof until he could come and get it (don’t worry, that’s not what Hubby called the pig).  Then came the matter of actually keeping Porky on our place.

Luckily for us our turkeys sleep in, and their pen is just over behind the house.  I closed the door to their coop so they wouldn’t decide to come out and get front row seats to watch the show.  Then we opened the gate to their pen and propped up a cattle panel to funnel the swine in there.

I remembered the turkeys had a trough full of corn in their yard.  Concerned the pig might overeat and get sick, but Hubby was already driving it toward the pen, I thinned out the grain the fastest way I knew how:  I shoved handfuls of corn into my pockets.

With hips bulging, I took my position to be sure Piglet would zig instead of zag when he came around the corner.  But that’s when the cats showed up.


I don’t know if Piggy had ever seen cats before, but even though they’re only about a sixth his size, the sight of them made him freeze.  The younger cat sat down right in the path and stared at him.  The older cat stepped to the side but hunkered down in the pounce position.  I’m pretty sure he was convinced they were thinking “Bacon!”

I picked up the cats and dropped them over the garden fence.  They took the hint, and we were able to push Hambone into the turkey pen with no more interruptions.

(Yes, we have dogs, but two are herd guardians that stay in the goat pasture.  The yard dog apparently decided that we were nuts for bringing this creature on our place, and he preferred not to be seen associating with us.)


I’d like to say this story has a neat and tidy ending:  Choppers got to go home, the cats discovered there was enough food in their bowls that they didn’t need a side of bacon, and I got to take the corn out of my pockets.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a tragedy.  But there’s a part two to this particular pigtail that I’ll share next week.  You see, life tends to be full of surprises….

A Small Matter of Life and Death


“Please tell me it’s dead,” Quint growled as he entered the makeshift tent.

Although unable to comply with the young colonel’s request, Zeke raised an acrylic cup in greeting.  He also remained reclined in a folding chair, his feet propped on the field desk.

“Not yet.”

When Quint scowled, Zeke figured it was in response to both his reply and casual posture.  The colonel knew better than to expect military conduct from an old schmoe like him, but he still enjoyed annoying Quint.  It added levity to an otherwise apprehensive lifestyle.

And things were pretty tense right now.  Less than an hour ago they’d won a battle against a battery of cyborgs commanded by a genetically-engineered super soldier.  Except the IMP, as his kind was called, turned on his own troops and slaughtered over half of them himself.  Then he surrendered to Quint’s battalion.

Hmm … Zeke realized he’d never before thought of any IMP as he.  Like Quint, he’d always considered them all to be it.

“You were supposed to find out its motive and kill it.”  Quint sat in his chair behind the desk and reached for the drawer where Zeke knew the whiskey was stored.

“No, you told me to find out his motive and decide if he needed to be killed.  I shook him up, but he didn’t spew.  So he’s stewing in the pit now.”

The colonel scowled at him again before pouring a shot into his own cup.  “It’s probably waiting for the next wave of attack, and then turn against us like it did on the cyborgs.”

“Come now, you know how keen the Elite are on efficiency.  They won’t waste a battery of cyborgs on a smattering of intelligence.”

Quint squinted.  “Then why did it turn on its troops?”

Zeke sipped the pilfered whiskey while considering his answer.  His interrogation of the IMP had been nothing like he expected.  All the answers only generated more questions.

“He’s scared.”

“Scared?”  Quint guffawed.  “The genetic engineers probably took that emotion out of its DNA.”

“It’s not an Oh crap, I’m about to die scared.  It’s more like a … I’ve lost my mommy scared.”

The colonel’s squint hardened.  “It came out of a petri dish.  That thing never even had a mommy.”

“Mm-hmm, true, but then again we are supposed to care for the orphan, are we not?”

“Quit your mind games.  What’s that thing got to be scared of?”

“What any slave might fear.”  Zeke shrugged.  “That his masters are not true masters.”

Quint stared at him.  “Why did I expect a straightforward answer from a rabbi?”

Any title like rabbi, doctor, judge or colonel was based on experience rather than any formal training.  When the authority that became known as the Elite mandated the remaining population must merge with biological and technological improvements, anybody who wanted to retain all of their humanity was forced to break away from established society and go underground … somewhat literally.

“Because you’re young and arrogant.”  Zeke was in his late sixties, which made him just old enough to remember what life was like before the rebellion.  “And that IMP in the pit worries you.”

“That thing makes me as nervous as a naked titmouse tossed into a shed full of bony tomcats.  It can only be up to no good.”

“You know, I have heard of a few IMPs that did join our cause.”

“Rumors!”  Quint waved his free hand.  “They didn’t manufacture many of those things.  And all the stories end the same way:  They wind up getting killed.  A good IMP is like a flying saucer.  You hear about them, but you never see one.”

“I didn’t say he was a good IMP.”  Zeke took another sip.  “Not yet.”

“I sure hope you’re implying that the only good IMP is a dead IMP.”

Zeke considered the fact that Quint, who claimed to be a descendant of Comanche chief Quanah Parker, just made a statement like that to a Jew.  He allowed the irony to rattle around in his subconscious.

“Maybe you should go visit with our little devil yourself.  He’s not innocent but he’s quite cooperative.”

“I have to get us prepared for the next attack, which it confirmed is coming.”  Quint frowned again.  “Unless it lied … it might be trying to get us to reveal our resources.”

“So why didn’t you tell me to just kill him after my Q-and-A chat with him?”

His frown hardened.  “Because I’m an idiot who trusts your judgment.  Now tell me why you didn’t, and give me a straight answer.”  He held the bottle of whiskey up before returning it to the drawer.  “Or I’m cutting off your supply.”

“Oh, my, you are in a bad mood, aren’t you?”  Zeke smirked, but as he sank a little deeper into his chair he nursed a long sip from the cup to gain more time for considering his response.

An honest but unexamined answer would be that he didn’t know.  Perhaps it had something to do with the IMP speaking of mercy, although he didn’t use that word and Zeke doubted it was part of his vocabulary.  Certainly before today the IMP had never shown any mercy to them.

But he also thought about Quint’s remark of what qualified as a good IMP.  History proclaimed that others had said the same thing about their ancestors.  And despite his origin, the IMP in the pit was a man….

“Because we need to keep our humanity.”

“I’m going to start locking my drawer.”

“Let me finish.  The Elite look down on us because we’re unimproved.  That IMP out there is genetically altered, but stick his DNA under a microscope and it’s still human.  Does that give us the right to look down on him?”

Quint frowned at him.  “I hate it when you take the moral high ground.  All right, watch that thing as we prepare for the next attack.  But if it so much as twitches, kill it.”



Here is the entry for this month’s #BlogBattle and the prompt word this time is Innocent (I don’t know what the word was accused was, but I’m glad it was cleared of the charges … sorry, couldn’t resist!).  This is installment 3 of an ongoing serialization, so if you just discovered this and want to catch up, the first and second installment links are here.

Also be sure to check out the other stories.  They’re rolling in pretty fast this month!