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Country Lifestyle

Western Housewives – April 2024



I am a mother. I do not know about the rest of you mothers, but the second I became “Mom,” my life became a constant state of wondering if I am doing a good job.

That is especially hard to tell when you choose to homeschool. I have no feedback from anyone that is not family. No teacher conferences telling me the little girl talks too much or the oldest boy can not sit still. Sure, I could ask my husband how he thinks our kids are maturing emotionally and intellectually. Still, he would most likely look out the window and see the aforementioned children running around in the sand with only socks on. He would then look at me and ask me to make him a quesadilla. I would say yes, we would joke about socks, and life would go on. See? Zero feedback to go on here.

So, you start to rely on personal experiences. You come up with little tests throughout your days to rate your kids “ready for society” level.

Example 1: A trip to the big city where the kids treat the grocery store as their personal snack depot. They successfully eat all the grapes and a whole block of cheese in your basket before you can check out. As you leave, they tell the door greeter, “Have a nice day.”

Example 2: Your husband enters an indoor rodeo. You are bouncing the baby and notice your oldest child is eating a bag of dippin dots. First, you smile and then remember that she has no money. Come to think of it, the concession stand is not even open. You have now concluded your firstborn has broken into the closed concession stand with her posse of four-year-old convicts and has helped herself to some ice cream.

Example 3: You are in church. The children have managed to be nice and quiet the entire time. After the message and the closing “Amen” is said, your three-year-old turns to you and says, “Well, that wasn’t so bad.”

After a little while, you start to question your “Ready for Society” tests. Are they productive? Are they accurate? I figure the answer to that question is better left unanswered.

One evening this summer, after I had quit conducting all these tests, I was mourning the loss of my children’s place in society when I looked up and noticed all our horses running down our driveway, headed for the neighboring pastures. For a minute, I just sat there wondering what I should do. I was holding the baby and wearing the ever-practical slip-on loafer and had absolutely no idea what was for supper. That had nothing to do with the horses being out, but that is part of being a housewife, I guess. You always wonder if you left the iron on and what is for supper.

While I sat there stunned, pondering life’s biggest questions, my husband and my daughter yelled at me to get a move on as they were already springing into action. My husband ran to stop them, and my daughter was on her way to the barn for some halters. Meanwhile, I was tripping over my loafers, scaring the horses and making already stressful matters much worse.

My husband finally got the horses cornered at the far end of our neighbor’s pasture and waved at me for some assistance. I handed the baby to my daughter and told her to watch the boys and stay in the house while I headed to help.

Within 30 minutes, we caught the horses and led them back to the corrals. I was in a near state of panic, wondering how long the boys had been crying and what state of mind my daughter was in, having just witnessed her dad nearly sweat to death and her mother make terrible fashion choices.

To my surprise, as I walked up to the house, I saw three happy children on the porch eating a supper of plums and peaches. The boys laughed at their sister as she shuffled little cars and cows around for them to play with. Not only had she fed and entertained her brothers, but she had also cleaned the house and fed the chickens to boot. I just stood there quietly watching for a while, not wanting to disturb the moment.

After the kids passed their first ever Ready for Society test, I realized that society’s standards versus my own were probably quite different. Society tells me that my kids need to be clean and quiet. Seen but not heard. Able to recite the ABCs on command but have no opinion on political matters. To be kind to everyone but never bring up God’s name and what He has to do with it. Society says my kids should fall into the assembly line and attend a good college someday to get a good minimum-wage job.

Why would I want my kids to fit into society when I do not even fit into society? No, I think I will keep my dirty little misfits all to myself. I think I will continue raising them to know how to care for themselves and each other. I will continue to show them how to serve God and work hard. I will continue to raise them never to wear slip-on shoes in the pasture and that plums and peaches are a totally acceptable supper on a warm summer evening.

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Country Lifestyle

Superbells Blackcurrant Punch



Rare Color for Baskets and Mixed Containers

By Norman Winter | Horticulturist Author and Speaker

The Garden Guy has become completely mesmerized by a bowl of blackcurrants. You can guess I am having a little fun with you. I am not talking about the fruit but the flowers referred to as Superbells Blackcurrant Punch.

This year most everything came through the winter including a few plants I am even asking where did you come from? The spring has been long, gloriously beautiful and still in progress and all of the Superbells calibrachoas taking your breath away with their beauty.

I have written about the ‘Punch Group’ but never about a single color. I love every one of them but this year I just have to dedicate a column to Superbells Blackcurrant Punch. Yes, I do have a couple of yellow bowls where they are showing out but in reality, they are mixed in a lot of my containers.

Superbells Blackcurrant Punch has won a ‘baker’s dozen’ of awards, Top Performers, and Perfect Scores north to south and east to west. Like the others they reach about 12-inches tall with up to a 2-foot spread. They obviously have some cold tolerance as mine have come through the winter. The caveat is they did spend five consecutive nights in the garage. Their beauty in March and April has defied logic.

The color which is so rare in the garden makes it a must have plant. I found a Proven Winners description from several years ago that nails it, Superbells Blackcurrant Punch has bright fuchsia-colored petals with velvety black centers and a subtle yellow in the throat. It will be hard to pass by if you are lucky enough to find them at the garden center.

Your success will come from growing them in containers with a very good potting soil. Give them plenty of sun. There is a lot of garden gossip that says you can’t grow them with Supertunias, Superbenas or a plethora of other plants because of different water requirements.

In the South we water containers and baskets every day unless we get rain. These containers drain freely so life is the same for all the plants. Since we water so frequently, we need to feed on a regular basis. The Garden Guy mixes up the blue water-soluble mix and feeds the container grown plants about every three weeks. At some point the Superbells Blackcurrant Punch will look tired and in need of a trim. This haircut so to speak will generate new growth, and blooms for the fall.

Your choice of partners is only limited by your imagination. I love them with Lemon Coral sedum, Superbena Cobalt verbena, Blush Princess sweet alyssum and mixed with other calibrachoas like Superbells Grape Punch and Magic Pink Lemonade. They are heavenly with Primo Wild Rose heuchera and Superbena Whiteout verbena.

All of the Superbells attract both hummingbirds and butterflies. The butterflies I have photographed so far have all been Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. You have to admit that’s not bad for flowers that are so pretty. Planting season is here, keep a spot open in your mixed-container recipes for Superbells Black Currant Punch or some of the other Superbells calibrachoas that now total 41. Follow me on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy for more photos and garden inspiration.

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Country Lifestyle

Western Housewives – June 2024



Life consists of small events that define us. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as eating cake with your two-year-old at midnight at your sister’s wedding. Sometimes, it’s something as painful as taking your two-week-old to the emergency room with RSV and living there for a week. Both are moments that changed me, and both are moments that I’ll remember forever.

Often my defining moments have happened on the back of a horse. I guess that is because that is where I have spent most of my life. It has made me pay special attention to each horse I have ridden during different stages of my life.

My first horse was a big bay horse that was must have reminded me of Greek mythology because it took me about two seconds to name him “Hercules.” He was the perfect mount for a five-year-old that acted tough but was secretly scared of her own shadow. Once I got Hercules, I could start going to work with my dad. We gathered wheat pastures and road pens, and he let me sit in the round pen on Hercules while he worked his sale horses. At the ripe age of five I was a pretty seasoned pen rider and had the sour disposition to prove it.

One morning we had a lot of wheat pasture freshies to turn out. Naturally, they ran off as soon as they got off the truck. Babies cry, and wheat pasture cattle run off the truck; I don’t make the rules.

My Dad had to leave me and get in front of the herd to keep them from crashing into the fence. I’m sure he told me just to stay put, but Hercules got excited by all the commotion and started following the impending stampede. Now I realize that I was safe the entire time, but, at that moment, I was certain my life was over. I was dramatic even as a youngster. Would Hercules ever stop? Would he try and jump the sprinkler tracks? What if he runs through the hot wire? And most importantly, what will I tell my friends?

About the time I was ready to jump into the dirt my Dad ran up beside me and helped me stop Hercules. I was safe, my adrenaline was pumping and I was promised an Allsup’s Coke for all my troubles. That was a defining moment in my life. I realized the more danger you got yourself in to, the much bigger the condolence award. As long as I was able to keep it to an Allsup’s Coke level of danger I would be just fine.

The next horse I truly loved was named “Alotofbull” He was anything but full of bull. He was big, cowy, and athletic. He scared me just a little but that’s what made me love him the most. My Dad and I won countless events on Alotofbull. My Dad has true horsemanship pumping through his veins, but I can only credit my riding success to Alotofbull. He made things easy for me and I felt I was nothing without him.

Even after all the ribbons, the moment I remember the most about him wasn’t in the showpen. it was in the middle of nowhere on a place we called “The Cain.” The Cain was where I spent many fall afternoons and summer mornings. It was full of Sandhills, cactus that were found of my backside every time my seat left the saddle, and absolutely no sign of civilization.  We would push cows to water, move pastures, and do other slow-paced things that were good for the horse and for the mind. I loved it there.

One afternoon in the middle of June, my Dad and I were moving some cattle to water. After we were done we came upon a set of old pens that my Dad had branded calves in with his Dad a long time ago. My Dad got quiet and solemn. Traits that were unusual for him. He started to reminisce of times long ago and told me how much he wished all his kids had gotten to know his Dad before he had passed away many years prior. I was only 14 at the time, and I was having trouble holding back tears myself. I leaned forward and played with Alotofbull’s black mane. I knew my grandfather had been a special man and I knew my Dad had cherished him. It made me see my Dad in a different light going forward. Yes, he was strong and resilient, but he was also human, just like the rest of us. He had a vulnerability in his life, too. It was a moment that taught me not to be afraid to talk about the hard stuff but to always press on. No matter what.

Many years later, I found myself in beautiful Oklahoma on a horse named “Reuben.” He was my then-boyfriend’s horse and was the only quick and little horse I had ever ridden. He was spunky and made me feel like better help than I was as we gathered pairs to wean that morning.

The sun was just coming up over the cottonwood trees, making the dewy grass shine. I looked over at the man beside me and just knew I would spend the rest of my life doing this very thing with him. I didn’t care if we ever had money or much of anything, really. As long as we were together, loving God, and riding good horses, I didn’t care about anything else.

About 12 hours later, after a long day and a few incidents that may or may not have involved me getting run over by a yearling, that same man proposed to me. We had never talked about it out loud, but I guess God had put it in both of our hearts. It was a moment that, of course, changed the rest of my life. It taught me not to overthink things when they are right and that an Oklahoma cowboy was just what my life needed.

I’ve had many horses and many defining moments in my life. Sometimes, I have loved the horse, and sometimes, I have not. The same goes for the moments. Nevertheless, each horse and moment has taught me something. After all this time, I am convinced that no matter how old I get, I will never be too old to ride a good horse because I will never be too old for a defining moment.

That being said, if one or two of my life lessons could involve another Allsup’s Coke, that’d be all right by me.

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Country Lifestyle

A Beginners Guide to Fishing



It seems that the subjects of countless profiles in the past year have mentioned, whether in passing or as part of a larger discussion, that the COVID-19 pandemic changed Oklahoma’s landscape in numerous ways. By and large, the overwhelming observation is that Okies in urban areas have begun migrating to the country, and are embracing the rural lifestyle. Small farms are popping up with a variety of animals, and gardens are being planted where there wasn’t one before.

It made me think that there are likely people out there who don’t know the basics of one of Oklahoma’s favorite pastimes: fishing.

With countless lakes, rivers, and streams teeming with a diverse array of fish species, Oklahoma offers ample opportunities for anglers of all ages and skill levels to cast their lines and reel in memorable catches.

If you’re new to fishing and eager to dip your toes into the water, don’t be afraid. Here are a few basic concepts to get you started.

Understanding Oklahoma’s Fishing Scene

Before you embark on your angling adventure, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with Oklahoma’s diverse fishing opportunities. From largemouth bass in the renowned Lake Texoma to catfish in the Red River, each region of the state offers its own distinct fishing experience. Consult resources such as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website and local fishing guides to discover prime fishing spots near you and learn about the regulations and licensing requirements specific to Oklahoma waters.

Gear Up

One of the first steps in getting started with fishing is acquiring the necessary gear. For beginners, a basic fishing rod and reel combo will suffice. Opt for a versatile spinning or spincast reel paired with a medium-action rod, which offers flexibility and ease of use for a variety of fishing techniques. Additionally, invest in essential tackle such as hooks, sinkers, bobbers, and a selection of artificial lures or live bait, depending on your preferred fishing style and target species.

Learn the Ropes

Before you hit the water, take some time to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of fishing. Practice tying basic fishing knots, which are essential for securing your line and attaching hooks and lures. Watch online tutorials or consult instructional books and videos tailored to beginner anglers to learn casting techniques, proper rod handling, and best fish handling practices.

Choose Your Fishing Spot

Oklahoma boasts an abundance of fishing hotspots, ranging from expansive reservoirs and scenic rivers to hidden ponds and urban lakes. Consider factors such as proximity, accessibility, and the type of fish you’re targeting when selecting your fishing spot. Popular destinations for beginners include Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Lake Thunderbird near Norman, and the Illinois River in northeastern Oklahoma, known for its scenic beauty and excellent trout fishing.

There are also countless farm ponds, but, I hope it goes without saying, you must obtain the land-owner’s permission to access their lands and fish their ponds.

Follow Fishing Regulations

Before you embark on your fishing excursion, familiarize yourself with Oklahoma’s fishing regulations and licensing requirements. The ODWC website provides up-to-date information on fishing seasons, bag limits, size restrictions, and license fees. Remember to obtain a valid fishing license and any additional permits required for specific fishing locations or species, as failure to comply with regulations can result in fines and penalties.

Practice Patience and Persistence

Fishing is as much about patience and persistence as it is about skill and technique. Be prepared to spend time waiting for the fish to bite, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t reel in a trophy catch on your first outing. Experiment with different baits, lures, and fishing techniques, and don’t be afraid to seek advice from experienced anglers or local bait shops. You’ll soon become more proficient and confident in your fishing abilities with practice and perseverance.

By gearing up with the right equipment, learning essential fishing skills, choosing the perfect fishing spot, following regulations, and embracing patience and persistence, beginners can set themselves up for a rewarding and enjoyable fishing experience in the Sooner State.


Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). “Fishing Regulations.”

ODWC. “Fishing in Oklahoma.”

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