Why you shouldn’t wear ball gowns in the barnyard…

Ahh, autumn’s beauty. Serene. Peaceful, golden hues, warm setting sun, a light breeze, one perfect horse grazing on the hillside.

From here it looks like I exist in a damn painting. From here it looks like something in a coffee table book.

Or a page in the Western Horseman, Cowboys and Indians, the photo that goes with October in an outdoors calendars,  or the art that I imagine hangs on the wall of one of those fancy ranch houses in Texas.

Only this is real life people. You know it. This is no painting. No sir. At this distance our horses are sleek and groomed, with slick, shiny coats glistening in the bug free air.

True rugged beauty.




Oh, come a little closer pretty boys. Let us run our hands through your manes, bury our faces in your coat, ride like the wind as the autumn air whips through our gorgeous hair…just like that woman on her steed in the clothing poster in the dressing room.

Yes, come closer, I’ll be her…let me get my long, flowing dress and giant earrings…

Oh, pretty boys yes, I’ll take your photo. We’ll show them what it’s like out here in the wild west of North Dakota. You are specimens. You are what those stable horses dream to be.









ah shit…

I weep.

I twitch.

I scratch.

And then fall to my knees and ask the sweet Lord to have a chat with the Devil himself. Because the Lord that I believe in created  all things indeed. The worms for the birds, the mosquitos for the frogs, the mice for the snakes, the snakes for the hawks, the weeds for the goats. I get it. I know how the chain works. I see the big picture. Lord, I do indeed.

But burs?

I just don’t get it. The only answer to the riddle of why these beastly, nasty, gnarly, poky, sticky, velcro-esk, buds of torture exist has to be this…bare with me here: While the sweet Lord was busily and happily creating things, he had mercy on the Devil and gave in to his plea to let him have a chance at inventing something. And the Lord, ever trusting, always willing to give second chances, thought to himself, “Ah, what the heck, maybe the Devil has turned himself around” and then suggested that the King of the Underworld start off with something small, like a nice little green plant, maybe a pretty insect or a flower. So the Devil rubbed his spindly little hands together, swished his tail and snickered with glee as he concocted a plan for a plant to take over barnyards everywhere.

“It will start out innocently enough,” he growled to himself while God had his back turned, busily inventing baby ducks. “Some people will mistake it for rhubarb and happily collect it to bake in pies for unsuspecting neighbors. Bwahahahah….cough cough” (the Devil coughs, you know, because of all that smoke inhalation).

“Wheeeze…ahem…and then it will grow. It will grow tall and strong in the most inconvenient places, like in front of the barn, and along the water tank, or the edges of creeks and under shady trees, you know, everywhere a beautiful horse with a long luscious mane might want to wander,” the Devil snorted.

God moved onto lilypads with those pretty little yellow flowers and then finished out his day with penguins and cotton-balls, all the while trusting the Devil to do the right thing, like go along with the useful insect idea. But no. The Devil had plans…

“It won’t need sun,” he was pacing now. “Oh, no. In fact, being the spawn of the devil, this “plant” (the Devil loves to use air quotes…it’s so annoying) it will prefer the dark places. But when the sun does hit it, no worries. It will just sprout the best part, the best part of it all…poky, sticky, scratchy little balls that will jump off the plant and stick to anything remotely fuzzy, kinda like how the velcro on your baby cousin’s shoes collect lint…only worse…WORSE I TELL YOU!!”

He laughed, he roared, he used his pitchfork thing to strike the new earth while he declared… 

“This is good…I mean bad…because sticking on tightly to anything and everything that moves about the place will allow my weed to spread to every corner of the prairie. And it will multiply and grow and thrive! Mwahahaaa…Why you ask?! Because nothing. NOThing. NOTHING WILL EAT IT!”

And with that, and a swipe of his red hot pitchfork thing, burdock was invented…

And there aren’t enough chainsaws in the world to remove it completely from the ranch.

Now I wish I wouldn’t have put on this long, flowing, ball-gown for this horse frolic photo shoot, because I am pretty sure I have a bur stuck to my butt…

Oh Lord, grant me the strength, proper equipment, cosmetics and attire to deal with ten horses who have been convinced by an evil man with pointy horns, red tights and a tail that the best grass is the grass growing underneath a cocklebur bush.

Scratch. Scratch.




67 minutes, a half bottle of Show-Sheen, twenty newly invented cuss-words and a broken comb later…



For your…

Close up…

Ok. That’s better.

And I’d like to tell you that will be the first and last time I post a photo of a horse’s butt, but I just can’t make any promises…

Take that Devil…now I think it’s time we  have a chat about wood ticks….


22 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t wear ball gowns in the barnyard…

  1. Two things: 1) I actually SMELLED Show Sheen when I read that word. 2) Those stickers from hell (not to mention those teeny burrs too, whatever they’re called) are the reason our horses always had buzz-cut manes. Poor guys looked like 4-legged Marines, but they never had any burrs and all our curry combs are still intact! Ha! And STUNNING fall pics, what a gorgeous time of year!!

    • I remember your horse’s buzzed manes. Last night when dad, hubby and I were out there pulling burs, dad mentioned that when he was growing up they used to always roach the horses’ manes, and grandpa would thin out their tails too and trade the horse hair for a subscription to a farming magazine! I thought that was a cool story…and am thinking that I could roach all their manes and make a kick ass braided horse-hair belt? Because I need, another project.
      Hope you’re bur free in Fargo..
      P.S. when I smell Show Sheen I think of getting ready for 4-H at the Christman ranch…

  2. uh-huh….burrs and their pokey cousin the porcupine…I think they also came with the swift swing the the dreaded red pitchfork. Neither are friends of anything or anybody! Thought I was going to see your poneys with a buzz cut!

  3. Enjoyed this post – awesome pics and beautiful scenery, but one thing we don’t miss from our days in TX are burrs, and especially burrs in the horse’s manes and tails!

    Leaves are really getting close to peak up here now also.

  4. I liked that foreshadowing early pic of the dune-colored one with a suspiciously thin tail looking as if shaved for a throughbred mare’s job. Something’s wrong there…. Laughed so hard I nearly swallowed my tongue seeing WHAT $%^$% did they get themselves into?!? I hope the beasties appreciate the grooming…

  5. I feel for you, Jessie, I feel for the horses and your husband. But heavenly days, this was an entertaining post. My cheeks ache from smiling, laughing, smiling some more. You write so blessed well! Like your songs on the CDs — just great.
    Thanks a million!

  6. My aunt used to have the same issue with her horse and the dreaded burrs. I don’t have horses but I do have chickens and have to say add to the list of things not to wear…moccasins! I slid into the coop the other day in my leather moccasins and caught myself on the nesting boxes before I face planted in chicken poop. We are starting an alpaca farm and I swear to you I will promise not to wear a nice ball gown out in the field 😉 try not to anyway.

  7. What a fantastic post. I recently wrote about playing dress up as a child, and neglected to mention the constant tangles and burrs that entailed. We had a trunk full of burry princess clothes. Ouch. I have to say though, your photography makes even burrs look good.

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