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Peggy's winning entry in the 2007 Will Rogers Writing Contest

"Run Amuck Ranching"

by Peggy Sanders

I'm just a down home country girl. Don't quite know what to make of this stuff called "The New West". Heck, the land is still in the same place. It's the people who have moved in that are

causing it to be called "new". Seems lots of city folk don't like the city life, the crowded

conditions, neighbors barking dogs, sirens wailing all the time. So they cast about for a better

spot to land. Choosing a countryside area, they ponied up for a small chunk of land, a ranch with  horses they called it, built the first house in that section with their very own checkbook.

Naturally, the house was full of fancies, 'bout as many as fleas on a dog. Imported tiles from

Mexico , not China , lined the floors. Course those former city people were expecting comfort so the tile had heat tapes running thru it. I'll be danged to know how they plugged 'em in. The

missus didn't take kindly to hot air, cold air, well, any air and fixed it so no one could mistakenly let in fresh air. From the smallest window to the south-facing 10-foot high sitting room window not one of them had a sash that could've been throwed open.

Along with the new house came new furniture and a placement person, something about being an expert in setting couches and chairs and tables in the right spots to allow chi to flow. I'd heard of water flowing but not this new fangled, New West feng shui that was being gushed about. Too bad the furniture didn't arrive before the trees were put in. One of them little pines had to be sacrificed cuz of it was in the chi way.

Being a new place, the trees planted by the landscape artist were still in the not-yet-dry-paint

stage they had lots of time to go 'fore they could be called finished. That let lots of sunshine

for sitting in. Matter of fact, the house was so full of windows, the couple had to put on

something called sunscreen to walk around inside.

First night in the new house the couple couldn't sleep a wink. It was too quiet. Heard a siren off

in the distance and it calmed them down. Guess they figured they weren't far from civilization

after all. They was just drifting off finally 'bout 3:00 in the morning when the awfullest racket

started up. A committee of re-introduced wolves had come to welcome the newly arrived horses.  It was excitin' to see the furry, cuddly wolves. The couple knew all about 'em as they were faithful readers of Contrived Rhetoric Animal Press. Half of the horses couldn't get away. Wolves had a feast. The couple had been looking forward to riding their horses and seeing wolves off in the distance. Never knew wolves would kill anything.

Just a month later a new house started going up on the adjoining ranch. Must have been city folk who didn't want to be without close company. Instead of building in the center of their five-acre ranch, the new dwelling was awful close. Soon the couple knew why.

After months of the couple being scared of the dark at night (too many stars, not enough city

lights), or what the New West folks called "light pollution", the new neighbors moved in and

brought their livestock. They raised little dogs with big barks. Put their dog pens and shelter right 'tween their new house and the couple's. Wind protection, they said. Wolf protection, the couple thought. The doggies was scared of the dark, had to sleep with nightlights on. One million candlepower nightlights. That took care of the New West folks' fear of the dark and their quiet living.