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Chickens in the Bathroom

You know you’re a hick if ….

Chicks in the bathroom. Click to enlarge.

Every year we lose a few hens to illness, hawks, or raccoons and need replacements. In years past we had a rooster named Colonel and he took care of that for me. I slept right through Colonel’s predawn crowing, but it drove my wife to distraction. One day she told me that the rooster had disappeared. Yeah, sure, Colonel just decided to move. I think she had him killed.

The chicken box. Click to enlarge.

Since hens lay eggs even without a rooster I decided not to make too much of a fuss, but since then we’ve had to buy chicks in the spring. This year we bought a mix of Gold Sex-Link, Orpington, Marans, Welsummer, and Barnevelder.

From the start, chicks need to be kept warm, at up to one-hundred degrees. One year we kept them in the garage under a heat lamp, but when the weather turned cold they nearly died. After that, we tried several places in the house and this year we decided on the guest bathroom. They’re all in a box, but we try to warn guests before they enter.

I told several of my friends about keeping chicks in the bathroom and they considered it rather routine. One of them said, “Let me tell you about the time I had a calf in my bathroom.”

Maybe I’m not such a hick.


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Click on the following links to read my author bio, or read more about my life on the farm.

A bestseller since its release!

This has been an exciting weekend!   

Even before it was released, Race to Refuge, my latest 16,000-word short story, had climbed onto the Amazon short story bestseller lists. On Friday morning, March fifteenth, when Amazon released the story I checked and was thrilled to see it at number seven on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story List. But, it kept climbing all day. By evening it had reached the number two slot on the bestseller list.

Amazon list of March 16, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The next morning I checked again and discovered it had reached the number one position on the science fiction list and the number ten spot on the literature and fiction list. I’m writing this blogpost on Sunday and the story is still in the number three position.

All I can say is thank you, my readers!   

In this story, University of Washington students Ryan Palmer and Amy decide to bugout of Seattle when international tensions threaten to boil over into a world war. In normal times their journey to Ryan’s childhood home in rural Idaho would take less than a day. But these aren’t normal times. As they travel supplies become scarce, gasoline becomes impossible to buy, people panic and nuclear war erupts. Together they must confront their worst fears as they fight to reach home and refuge.


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Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons

I enjoy singing 10,000 Reasons.

I’ve sung the hymn in church for several years, but other than enjoying the music and lyrics, I’ve never given the song much thought.

Matt Redman

Matt Redman

Then my wife found this video of it being sung in a packed Royal Albert Hall in London. For me, the performance, setting, music, and words all blended together to create a spectacular event. I would have loved to have been in that crowd and joined in the singing. Since that didn’t happen I at least wanted to know more about the song.

In the video, the co-writer of 10,000 Reasons, Matt Redman, performs the song with a full orchestra. Born in England, Matt had a tough time growing up. His father committed suicide when he was just seven, and his abusive step-father landed in jail. Through it all Matt found both his talent and Christ.

Based on the opening verses of Psalm 103, the hymn reached number one on the Christian chart in 2011.

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name

The sun comes up
It's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes

You may have heard 10,000 Reasons before but, take a moment, and hear it again.


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A Conference with Carrie

On February 23rd I had the pleasure of speaking at the Oregon Christian Writers one-day winter conference in Salem, Oregon.

Carrie Stuart Parks delivers the keynote address

I arrived about thirty minutes late due to an accident on the freeway but, after checking in, I entered the main auditorium and listened to the keynote speaker, Carrie Stuart Parks. Carrie is an award-winning, internationally known forensic artist and author. I had read about her before the conference. She taught classes for the FBI, Secret Service, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Her awards include the Christy, Carol, and the INSPY.  

Kyle Pratt, Cornelia Becker Seigneur, Carrie Stuart Parks. and Julie Zander

She talked about her progression from artist to writing books on drawing and on to her fiction novels. I enjoyed the way she mixed art and writing in a talk about growth. Evidently, I missed how she met Frank Peretti and came to be mentored by him. As a longtime fan of his novels, I would have taken eager notes on that.  

Fortunately, I wasn’t late for my class on Finding and Forming Critique Groups. I’ve attended critique groups for more than a decade and through them learned many valuable writing lessons and formed lasting friendships.

As authors, we spend many hours alone while writing, but sometimes we need the perspective of others. That’s where the critique group comes in handy. Getting out of our comfort zone and letting others read and comment on our work is hard, but that is what we do as published authors.

I hope to expand upon the talk and give it at other events.  


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Please don’t colonize me

Bill Maher thinks I’m angry.

I first heard of Bill Maher as the host of Politically Incorrect on Comedy Central. I watched a few shows but soon moved on. Like so many comedians, Bill struck me as someone who thinks they’re funny and knows for certain they are the smartest person in any room.

Bill Maher

Such people annoy me, but I’m not angry.

I would have happily continued to ignore Bill, like that pesky relative that says stupid and cringe-worthy things. But then, Bill had to go and make up things about me and my neighbors.

Recently on his HBO show Real Time, Bill said, “We have orchestras and theaters districts and world-class shopping. We have Chef Wolfgang Puck, they (red state America) have Chef Boyardee.”

However, Bill was just getting warmed up. Over the course of the next few minutes, he said, “The fly-over states have become the passed-over states, that’s why red state voters are so pissed off. They don’t hate us, they want to be us. They want to go to the party.” He concluded the tirade with, “If liberals are serious about winning elections, they have to recolonize the parts of the country they’ve abandoned.” You can view the entire rant on the embedded video. 

Bill, I know this will come as a surprise, but I don’t want to come to your party and I hope you don’t come and try to colonize my part of the country. I’m not pissed-off, as you put it, but clearly, we value different things.

You see, my home isn’t surrounded by buildings, pavement, and traffic. I have neighbors but I can’t see them from my house. All I see as I look out any window is grass and trees. If I look through the trees along the south side of my property I can just make out the nearest road. If I’m working outside, I tend to notice the occasional car that travels it. 

In the morning I wake up to the sounds of chickens, horses, and cows. A host of birds including hummingbirds, swallows, hawks and an occasional bald eagle frequent the nearby forest. Almost daily, deer stroll through my yard and as dusk falls they sometimes settle down for the night in a nearby meadow. When the snow is deep my wife will often leave them apples.

On warm summer nights, I usually leave the window open and fall asleep to the sound of frogs croaking in the nearby pond.

You’re right Bill, I don’t have access to world-class shopping or Wolfgang Puck, but those have never been high on my list of life’s perks. I appreciate orchestras and theaters but have given up being close to them for what I get in return—beauty, peace, and solitude.

I know all of that probably sounds horrible to someone born and raised in the New York City area, but I like it. So, please don’t colonize my area. I’ve lived in big cities and I left them.

I’m just a conservative, red state republican who loves the simple country life and doesn’t want to be like you. 


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Five Signed Copies

I’m giving away five signed copies of Through Many Fires!

Click here to enter!

Click here to enter!

You could be one of the winners. Just click on the Rafflecopter graphic to enter and win. Enter your email address to open even more chances to win. It's all FREE!


Through Many Fires is the 72,000-word first book in the best-selling post-apocalyptic adventure series, Strengthen What Remains. 


America is under siege. 


Terrorists smuggle a nuclear bomb into Washington D.C. and detonate it during the State of the Union Address.


Army veteran and congressional staffer Caden Westmore is in nearby Bethesda and watches as a mushroom cloud grows over the capital.


The next day, as he drives away from the still burning city, he learns that another city has been destroyed and then another. America is under siege.


Panic ensues and society starts to unravel.


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Race to Refuge Available for Pre-order

My first book of 2019 is available now!

Pundits say that the second-best promotion an author can have is finishing their next book. Well, the graphic design and editing of Race to Refuge flew by and my first release of 2019 is now available for pre-order for only 99 cents.

I’ve agreed to give Amazon the exclusive right to sell the book for ninety days. After that, I plan to offer the book on all the major platforms.

In Race to Refuge, college student Ryan Palmer wakes up to his girlfriend Amy pounding on the door. She snaps on the television and he learns that the tense world situation is spiraling toward war. As the news grows worse, they decide to bugout of Seattle and go to his parent’s home in Idaho. But panic buying makes finding gasoline impossible and chaos soon follows.

The best promotion an author can have is readers that tell other readers. Please, click on the book cover and order Race to Refuge and, when you’re done reading, please leave a review!


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Race to Refuge Cover Reveal

Race to Refuge will be released in March.

I received the cover back from the graphic designer, Domi, of Inspired Cover Designs, yesterday and I’m showing it here first.

In this story, University of Washington students Ryan Palmer and Amy decide to bugout of Seattle when world tensions threaten to boil over into world war. In normal times their journey to Ryan’s childhood home in rural Idaho would take less than a day. But these aren’t normal times. As they travel supplies become scarce, gasoline becomes impossible to buy, people panic and nuclear war erupts. Together they must confront their worst fears as they fight to reach home and refuge.

Race to Refuge is in final editing. The exact release date hasn’t been set but this standalone novella will be available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon in March. In the summer the story will be released on other platforms.


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New Year Resolutions

I believe in setting goals at the beginning of the year.

The SMART method of goal setting works for me. I make my goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. I also believe in making goals public so that friends can hold me accountable and motivate me toward achieving them. I admit that sometimes when they do this I think of their encouragement more as nagging, but it does help. So, with that in mind here are my goals for 2019 and a look back at how I did on my goals for 2018.

We don’t have a cover yet for Facing the Storm.

 The Solar Storms Saga

My 2018 goal for the Solar Storms Saga had been to release both a novella and a full-length novel. I released the novella as The Storm Rises, in September of 2018. However, time ran short for completing the next full-length book in the series. That next book, Facing the Storm is now my primary novel to complete in 2019.

 At the end of 2019, this is how I want the series to stand.

The Storm Rises, book 0, released 2018

Through the Storm, book 1, released 2017

Facing the Storm, book 2, scheduled for 2019

You can read more about the next book in the Solar Storms Saga on the projects page of my website.

 The Guardian Knights series.

As 2017 began I had completed the first novel in this series Seekers of Earth, a 39,000-word novella that ends in a cliffhanger. I wanted to finish the second, longer, book, Recall the Earth, and have both available near the same time. I succeeded in this goal. Seekers of Earth was released in March of 2017, and Recall the Earth was released with much fanfare and marketing in April of that year. While both books have had good reviews, sales have been slow.

Then in 2018, the Solar Storm Saga books did very well and this drove me to allocate time and effort to writing and marketing of that series. I had to push back the third book in the Guardian Knights series to 2019, but this is the year that I will finish Return to Earth.

I planned the Guardian Knights as a five-book series and this is my plan for completion.

Seekers of Earth, book 1, released 2017

Recall the Earth, book 2, released 2017

Return to Earth, book 3, scheduled for 2019

War for Earth, book 4, scheduled for 2020

Farewell to Earth, book 5, scheduled for 2021

You can read more about Return to Earth on the projects page of my website.

 Completing both Facing the Storm and Return to Earth will mean writing over 110,000 words. That’s a significant, but achievable goal for 2019.


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The Reason for Christmas

shutterstock_349974143.jpg

During this time of year, there is a great deal of talk about the reason for the season. I often hear people say Christmas is about family and friends, love, peace, sharing, or hope. All those things are good and should be a part of this time of year, but they are not the reason for Christmas.

The book of John, written about 1,900 years ago, informs us that, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Son of God, full of grace and truth.” In another verse, we are told that God sent Jesus because he loved us and wanted to show us the way back to Him.

I’m not a theologian or even a pastor, but those verses tell me that Christmas is about Jesus and the love of God.

Last year, I discovered an a cappella group called Pentatonix. They’re not a Christian group, but they are talented and seem to like singing Christmas songs. This one, Mary, did you know, is one of my favorites, because it asks such interesting questions. I hope you enjoy it.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas. Immanuel hallelujah.

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Busy and Talented

They say if you want something done ask a busy person.

Amy and Kyle Pratt

One of my friends, Amy, works at the Chehalis Library near my home. She writes in her free time and has been the local liaison for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the last few years. She also serves on the board of the Lewis County Writers Guild which, among other things, organizes a one-day writers conference each year. We often sit next to each other at weekly guild critique sessions. At one of the guild board meetings, Amy showed a large diamond painting she had been working on. I wondered when she had the time to work on such an intricate creation.     

I’m not sure if Amy considers herself a busy person, but it seems like it to me. A few days ago I taught a class, So, You Have a Manuscript, Now What?, at the Chehalis library. It has often been said that authors write because the page is blank, painters fill a canvas because it’s empty. When my Library talk was done Amy removed the poster and later made it into a bow. Why? For the same reason climbers summit a mountain—it was there.

The bow looked like a complex weave to me, but as Amy handed it to me she said it took only a couple of minutes to make.

I’ve often heard it said that you can tell a lot about a person by their friends. In my case I have a lot of busy and talented friends.


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A New Podcast

I’m going to co-host a new podcast!

ATI podcast cover II (small).jpg

The weekly twenty-minute show is titled, All Things Indie, and will be aimed at authors. My co-host, Jennifer Vandenberg, and I will provide tips to hone the writing craft of our audience, introduce them to knowledgeable indie authors, and provide new insights into book marketing. 

We’ve already begun lining up interviews, writing and recording. The podcast will be available on Libsyn, iTunes, Stitcher, and other sites. Our first show is scheduled for release on December 7th and I’ll have more information then.


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A Thud at the Door

I was sitting in my living room this morning when I heard a thud.

Kyle and son James Pratt with copies of Christmas in Time

I felt confident that I’d find a heavy box just outside the door, and I did. The delivery service had dropped off a package containing thirty-five copies of Christmas in Time. Both my oldest son and I have stories in the anthology. My contribution is titled, What will you do? It views that very first Christmas through the eyes of one of the shepherds that hear the angels proclaim the birth of Jesus.  In his story, The Junkyard Gang, my son, James, shows us a more modern Christmas through the eyes of a young American boy living on a military base in Japan.

So, with all these books, we had to get a picture together!

The thirty-five copies are for a book signing event at The Station Coffee Bar & Bistro in Centralia this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. My son and I will be there with our other books and there will be eleven other local authors, including five that have stories in Christmas in Time.

I’ll get someone to take pictures and I’ll post them in the blog.


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Mutual Events

I’ve never won NaNoWriMo.

I’ve taken part in National Novel Writing Month several times but never written the 50,000 words needed to win. There isn’t a prize. Everyone who writes the required amount gets to call themselves a winner. My friend, and local coordinator for the event, Amy Flugel, encouraged me to take part but … maybe next year.

Kyle Pratt speaking at the Chehalis Public Library

Perhaps in recognition of my NaNoWriMo failure, I scheduled a talk for November titled, So, You Have a Manuscript, Now What? The occasion, at the Chehalis Public Library, was scheduled for November 3rd. I figured it might be helpful for those that can and do win the event. Only later did I learn that Amy had scheduled a “write in” at the same library that afternoon.

Our two events mingled together. Amy started with writing sessions and moved on to word wars, where individuals compete to write the most words. After an hour of writing, I talked. I discussed critique groups, beta-readers and what an editor can and should do for a manuscript. Then I explained the different routes to publication available today. I’m not sure whether some of the audience were taking good notes or continuing to write while I talked. I stayed around and answered questions while Amy continued with another writing session.  

Like many authors, I’m an introvert and would enjoy just staying home and writing, but the path of growth, both as an individual and a writer, requires getting out of your comfort zone. I enjoyed the day and, I think, the people there did also.


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Christmas in Time Released!

Time is on my mind

 I should have posted this earlier, but got busy and time slipped away from me, but Christmas in Time deserves to be mentioned.

 Yesterday Amazon released the ebook version of this Christmas anthology. My story in the collection is titled, What Will You Do? If you pre-ordered book it’s already on your Kindle. The paperback version will be released soon.

 Below is the text from the back cover of the paperback.

 Take a new look at Christmas

 Christmas in Time takes a new look at the holiday through the imaginations of these seven Christian authors.

Christmas in Time

Christmas in Time

 Two Golden Rings by Heather Morse Alexander examines tragedy, love, and faith, during the depression.

 A Country Christmas by Carolyn Bickel blends her knowledge of farm life into a down-home country Christmas.

 Christmas Stars by Barbara Tifft Blakey provides a well-researched glimpse of the season during the middle ages.

 A Home for Christmas by Kristie Kandoll gives us a frosty Dakota frontier holiday through the eyes of a pioneer.

An English Christmas Treasure by Romance writer Debby Lee delivers a peek into a Victorian-era Christmas.

 The Junkyard Gang by James K. Pratt shows us a Christmas through the eyes of a young American boy in Japan.

 What Will You Do? by Kyle Pratt views the nativity through the eyes of a shepherd.

 From Judea on that very first Christmas to England, Bavaria, Japan, and the United States, Christmas in Time explores love, faith, and hope through the eyes and hearts of ordinary people.

Christmas is coming soon. Click on the book cover or here to order a copy. I think you’ll enjoy it.


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The Storm Rises Released!

I’m late, but the book isn’t!

I’m late writing this blogpost, but I got the book out on time! The Storm Rises, book 0 in the Solar Storms Saga was released on September 21st and is available now exclusively on Amazon in both ebook and paperback versions. So far the novella has all five-star reviews and none of the reviewers are related to me by blood or marriage.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, The Storm Rises is a sidequel, or parallel, story to Through the Storm, book one of the Solar Storms Saga. Both happen over the same time period and some characters are in both books. Below is the back cover blurb for The Storm Rises.

 “A Humvee parked in front of his house couldn’t mean anything good.”

 After a camping trip with his oldest son, Major Dirk Franklin comes home to find a Humvee parked in front of his house. His wife, Carol, tells him the news channels are talking about a storm on the sun. Moments later he’s whisked away to a secret military facility in Portland. There, Major Franklin and others struggle to prepare for the coming collapse of society.

 As the world sinks into darkness, Franklin fights to save his family and the last threads of civilization.

 I’m calling The Storm Rises book zero of the series. Through the Storm, which is already available on Amazon, is book one. Book two in the series, Facing the Storm, will be released next year.

 Click on either image for more information or to buy the book.


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Now in Walmart eBooks

My books are in the Walmart online bookstore.

Walmart has partnered with the Canadian company Kobo, a worldwide seller of ebooks and ereaders. Frequently, my ebook sales are higher on Kobo than Amazon in several countries, Canada and Japan in particular.

Walmart.png

This isn’t surprising since Kobo is owned by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten. However, Kobo is more than a two-country company. Wired magazine has called Kobo the “only global competitor to Amazon,” in the ebook market. I welcome this new partnership and the competition it will provide to Amazon.

I checked and my Kobo books, Through Many Fires, A Time to Endure, Braving the Storms, and others are now on the Walmart bookstore.

Kobo ereaders are already available in Walmart stores. There are rumors in the industry that Walmart and Kobo are working on a reading program similar to Kindle Unlimited. Walmart is also rumored to be working on another streaming service in addition to Vudu. If Walmart and Kobo could come together and create their own version of Amazon Prime it could be a win for both readers and publishers.

I remain watchful and hopeful.


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A Meeting with Friends

For many years the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference was the only conference that I attended.

Friends and Authors Debby Lee, Kristie Kandoll, Barbara Blakey with Kyle Pratt

These last few years I regularly attend more events, but OCW is the one where I feel most at home. I have friends here. Don’t misunderstand me; this is not some small gathering of casual writers. A few years ago I was eating lunch in the main hall and Frank Peretti asked to sit at my table. I can’t remember what I ate, but I’ll never forget our conversation about his books and writing in general.

Cascade Award winner and friend, Jill Williamson

Cascade Award winner and friend, Bethany Hayes

Several hundred attended the Cascade Awards dinner tonight, the last full day of the OCW conference, but despite the size, almost every year, I know someone who wins. This year two friends, Jill Williamson and Bethany Hayes were honored for their work. I laughed out loud when presenters James Rubart and Susan May Warren couldn’t find the right certificate for two of the finalists. Susan threw off her black gloves looking for the correct paper as laughter thundered through the room. Still smiling, I said to the woman beside me, “I’ve seen worse confusion at the ceremony.”  

After the awards dinner, I hurried out hoping to congratulate my two friends and nearly ran into Randy Ingermanson. I didn’t even know he was there.

Every year during the coaching sessions and workshops, I learn things and while that’s important it isn’t why I come back. I’m not sure how something this large can feel so comfortable, but it does, and that keeps me coming back.


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Greetings from OCW

I always get nervous when I’m on camera.

Friends and Authors Debby Lee, Kristie Kandoll, Barbara Blakey with Kyle Pratt

Friends and Authors Debby Lee, Kristie Kandoll, Barbara Blakey with Kyle Pratt

I’m rarely tense on when on the radio and never when writing, but when I need to put a message out on video my tongue seems to grow fat and slow and I feel stiff.

But there are times when the best way to say something is on video, so not long after arriving at the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference, I asked my friend Debby Lee to film me. The idea was to make a simple greeting, let readers know where I’m at and a little about my next book.

Simple, right?

You might think that I look okay in the video, but notice that at the beginning I have to think of my name. Then towards the end, I was supposed to talk about two books. The Storm Rises which will be released on September 21st. I totally forgot about that book.

I did mention Christmas in Time which comes out on October 1st, but I made it sound like I wrote the whole thing. Christmas in Time is an anthology with six other authors, Heather Morse Alexander, Carolyn Bickel, Barbara Blakey, Kristie Kandoll, Debby Lee, James K. Pratt and me.

Despite my awkward and incomplete video delivery I hope I made the message clear in this blogpost.


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A Day at the Fair

Part of country life is the county fair.

Kyle at the Southwest Washington Fair under a hot and hazy sky.

I go almost every year, even if it is cool and rainy. Despite the hazy sky, caused by forest fires in Canada, the days of the fair were some of the hottest of the year. It was so hot the organizers had fans blowing mist, for the animals, not the humans. Although, I admit to stopping in the fan breeze a couple of times.  

As I walk along the main route of the fair I almost always meet friends. It’s a good time to get reacquainted and they always ask about my latest or next book and, of course, I’m happy to tell them.

Kyle in the cow barn.

I didn’t see the beekeeper display this year, perhaps I missed it. Lorraine enjoys looking at the various cattle, chickens, and rabbits on display. I like those too, along with the horseback events. During my teen years, I was in the 4-H and brought animals as part of the competition. I don’t show livestock or compete anymore, but I still enjoy watching events like the dog show, dressage, and barrel racing. I also like the food.


Click on the following links to read my author bio, about life in Lewis County, or more about my life on the farm.

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