Prairie Dog Cowboy, by Vivian Zabel

Prairie Dog Cowboy Cover
Prairie Dog Cowboy Cover

This book is historical fiction, set in 1899. Ranching has changed over the years, and how it affects the life of the kids who work them with their families changes, too. Vivian pieced together a typical day for Buddy Roberts. Be sure to comment on this blog and the others on the tour – there will be a drawing for canvas bags. You’ll want to leave a way to contact you if you win, as well. Good luck!

What is a typical day like?

Before Buddy started to school, and before fences had been strung around the pastures, he would be up before daylight to help milk the cows. After breakfast, he and his dog, Patch, would herd the few cows and their calves (if there were any) to the pasture. In winter, Buddy would construct an “igloo” of tumble weeds which were held together by snow and ice when available. The boy would huddle inside with his dog, who would be able to tell if one of the cows wandered away. Then boy and dog would run after the cow and bring her back.

Sometimes he might have lunch of whatever was left from breakfast, food that he brought with him. Other times, a neighboring rancher would bring something hot for him to eat.

Late in the afternoon, Buddy and Patch would herd the cows home and put them in the corral. If the water in the trough had frozen, the boy would break the ice so the cattle could drink. Then he would help with the night milking, feed and water the chickens before finally having supper. After supper he headed for bed.

By the time Buddy started to school, the rancher to the south of the farm and some of Buddy’s uncles fenced the pastures. Buddy would feed and water chickens and herd the cows to the pasture after helping with the morning milking. Then he ate breakfast and rode to school with his friends. After he got home, he did chores including herding the cows home on foot with Patches help.

Once Buddy worked on the ranch, he usually stayed there except on weekends, when he returned to the farm to do the heavy farming.

How old is he?

At the beginning of the book, Buddy isn’t quite five years old. By the end of the book, he’s eighteen.

Does he enjoy ranching?

All Buddy ever wanted to do was be a cowboy, and to farm part of the homestead that he thought he would share with his older brother some day.

When did he start working out there?

Buddy never knew anything but work. The life in frontier days was hard, and children started working from an early age. However, he never complained — except when he finally was able to work on the ranch for Caleb Hyman and Caleb asked him to move large rocks out of the roadway so that the wagon wheels wouldn’t break.  Buddy didn’t think that was work for a cowboy.

Buddy started “cowboying” with his best friends Craig and Cody Hyman when he was about ten.

When did he stop schooling?

Due to Caleb’s influence, Buddy attended school through the twelfth grade. He refused, though, to allow Caleb send him to college with the twins.

Most children didn’t attend school past the eighth grade, if they attended that long. Often, too, children attended sporadically. Buddy was fortunate because the Hyman’s took him into their family with their children and expected him to attend school.

All this fascinates me, especially because I grew up on a farm. Many kids still start work at a young age, but mostly just by helping their parents with chores. My brother-in-law raises sheep – my niece started around age four accompanying him during the afternoon or on weekends. However, today’s children finish school through college, even if their intention is to go back to the farm or ranch they came from to work. Many can learn more about the animals or crops they tend during those high school and college years.

This book is available at Amazon and directly through 4RV Publishing, LLC. Be sure to check it out and see the beauty of old time ranching, along with the toughness of the people who helped tame the land.

For more about the author, check her here:

Brain Cells and Bubble Wrap

Vivian’s Multiply Site

Angeline Jellybean!

Everyone loves jellybeans, but probably none of them as much as Angeline. All she eats is jellybeans!

You’ll find out more during this tour about the author, Crystalee Calderwood, the illustrator, Stephen Macquignon; and the book, Angeline Jellybean! I have the feeling this book has given all of us jellybean fever – so watch out. It might not be contagious…

A little information about jellybeans:

  • Jellybeans emerged around 1900 with other shaped candies.
  • Former President Ronald Reagan’s favorite candy was the jellybean, which marked a resurgence in popularity and also brought a lot of gourmet or designer flavors.
  • Some manufacturers make formed shapes for holidays like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.
  • Mostly, they’re part of Easter traditions and about 15 billion jellybeans are sold during the season.

Angeline Jellybean, the book: Publisher Site

As a picture book geared toward children 2 and up for listening and 1st to 3rd grade for reading, Angeline is going to get them thinking. It’s filled with beautiful pictures and a fun story to keep them entertained, as well. I received my copy earlier this month and am extremely happy with it.

Crystalee Calderwood: Website Blog

Favorite jellybean flavor? Cherry
Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving
Favorite age of children to read to? Babies and Toddlers – the lap-cuddling age.
Favorite age of children to write for? 3-5 years, but I like to write for all ages.
What’s your next challenge? Revising and expanding my first YA novel and hopefully getting it published. I’m also working on a new website where kids can ask me questions about my writing, books, and send in their own work.

Stephen Macquignon:

Favorite jellybean flavor? If I had to choose one, it would be the black liquorish.
Favorite holiday? Halloween is my favorite. I used to love putting on costumes and going Trick or Treating with my friends.
Favorite age of children to illustrate for? I don’t have one. I enjoy working in all age groups. “Angeline Jellybean” is for children ages 2 and up, “Colors” that has just been published and is written by Danna Warren is for children no older than 7 years.
What’s your next challenge? “Would a Kangaraffee Make you Laffe” and I have two more  books in production “If Fish Could Drive” and “The Marshmallow Man” coming out in October 2009.

Make sure you check out the entire tour! Click for schedule.

Looking Forward!

My good friend and fellow author at 4RV Publishing, LLC, Crystalee Calderwood, will be my guest to kick off her blog tour on December 28th! I’m really excited to host her and her new picture book, Angeline Jellybean.

The other stops on the tour:

Vivian Zabel at -December 29th
Laura Peters at -December 30th

Elysabeth Eldering -December 31st

Susan Thompson at – January 1st

Sarah Adkins at -January 2nd

Lea Schizas at -January 3rd

Crystalee Calderwood at -January 4th.

All hosts plan something a little different and there might be incentives, so make sure you check out all the posts. Also, comment so we know you’re here. I heard the illustrator, Stephen MacQuignon, may be hanging around at that time. I hope he’s also available for questioning. (Wait, I don’t mean that in a bad way: “So, Stephen, where were you on the day Angeline Jellybean debuted on Amazon?”)