Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino October 2022

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

October 7, 2022

Welcome to the Saddle Up Saloon where we feature interactive characters, real-life authors & poets, the occasional Carrot Ranch announcement, and a Cowsino story game every first Friday of the month. You can learn about the craft of creative writing, introduce your own characters to the Kid & Pal crew, discuss the writer’s journey, and be part of making literary art accessible to anyone.

“Welcome back ta the Cowsino, ever’one. It’s the spot where ya git anuther chance ta practice yer writin chops without leavin the comfort an safety a the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.”

“Thet’s right, Kid. The famous story spine slot machine is in the Cowsino, at the Saddle Up Saloon, jist over the line from Carrot Ranch.”

“Atchally, Pal, I think it’s me an you that’s over the line. The Saddle Up is a part a the ranch, a waterin hole an restin place fer all our ranch hands an even their characters. But what ‘xactly is this story spine?”

“I first heard a story spine back in January 2020, in one a the challenge posts. In thet post lead buckaroo, Charli Mills, says the story spine kin be anuther draftin an problem solvin tool fer writers.”

“Reckon I’ll click HERE ta re-read that post an find out more.”

“Reckon thet’s a good idea. An in thet post is THIS LINK ta Aerogramme Writers’ Studio where teacher, author, and the Artistic Director of Synergy Theater Kenn Adams tells bout Story Spine, which he created in 1991.”

“But it’s basically jist a structure ta contain yer story?”

“Yeah, Kid, jist a way ta plot yer rersponse ta the three pictures thet come up on the slot machine. Ya kin switch the order a the pictures an the story ain’t gotta be zactly 99 words, not at the Cowsino.”

“An folks play as much as they like? Post their stories there in the comments; read an comment on other’s?”

“Yep, it’s a lot a low stakes fun. The rules a play’s listed below.”

“Well, then folks, look’t them pictures an play yer hand. We’ll catch ya in the comments.”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more then one story).
  5. Say howdy to those playing with you! Be friendly and have fun!

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and built the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via

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  1. Stine Writing and Miniatures

    I loved the dialogue and will definitely come to the Cowsino! I will read a bit first on Story Spine so I have that upperhand!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Welcome to the Cowsino at the Saddle Up Saloon! Yes, it was good to see Kid and Pal reminding us of what the Story Spine is. You can also look back at previous Cowsino posts to see how Ranch hands have used the structure. It’s all fun practice. That having been said, I wonder what I might come up with with those pictures… tough roll!

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:

    Kid and Pal host a monthly writing prompt at the Saddle Up Saloon. Try your hand at the Cowsino.

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Was a rooster that was, as roosters are, quite cocky, thought he ruled the roost. He even thought this story was about him, but if he paid attention, he’d realize it’s not.
    Everyday, while he strutted and crowed, impressing mainly himself and the farmer, the hens cluck clucked at his ridiculous antics and tsk tsked that he claimed to be their protector but still the farmer stole all their eggs.
    One day Maybelle Hen saw just the break she had always dreamed of, when the farmer inadvertently left the gate to the chickenyard unlatched. She rallied the others and they marched one by one down the ramp. Together they pushed against the gate. Then they dispersed and disappeared into the corn until arriving at the road that bordered the field.
    Some of the hens chickened out and returned to the yard. Some remained scratching in the corn field, content with their new free range status.
    But Maybelle, she ranged farther. She crossed that road and many more, and never felt she needed to eggsplain her actions to anyone but herself.

    • Scott Bailey

      Wow, now THAT’S how it’s done! Great story with some pretty cool wordplay. Go Maybelle go! I liked the pace and thought it moved along just right. I don’t know why, but I had a sneaking suspicion the hens were going to kill the rooster but I’m glad they didn’t. I’m glad you wrote it the way you did.

      …..some of the hens chickened out….. Love it!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Hi! Do you mind dropping the story here in the comments? The Saloon is meant to be a gathering place to read and comment, a different type of accessibility for both readers and writers.

      • Stine Writing and Miniatures

        Once upon a time, there was a farmer who decided to open a farm for all of the animals that other farmers decided they were done with. 

        Every day the farmer would stand by his mailbox and wait until he saw the sad animals walking down the road. He would wave them over and tell them that they were welcome to come live at his farm. He called it the Forever Farm.

        But one day a chicken came walking backwards down the road. The Farmer didn’t know if he would be able to get the chicken’s attention before he passed so he decided to put out a roadblock to stop the chicken at his mailbox. This certainly worked because when the chicken hit the road block, not only did he stop but he started screaming and bouncing around like an old Mexican jumping bean. 

        He finally came to a stop at the farmer’s feet.
        “Why’d you stop me like that?”, asked the chicken.
        “I wanted you to stop so I could ask you if you wanted to come live here at the Forever Farm. You were walking backwards and I didn’t want to miss you when you walked by.”

        “Well, that was awfully nice of you but when I get scared I can’t control myself.”

        “That’s no problem. I don’t mind what any of you animals do,” replied the farmer.

        Except, every time there was a loud noise in one of the fields, or a new animal, or the honk of a horn, the chicken started screaming and bouncing everywhere. Then it came, the UPS truck, with its big brown boxy sides. “Honk, Honk” The driver beeped the horn to get the farmer’s attention. 

        Suddenly the chicken appeared screaming and bouncing, and he scared the UPS driver so much that the driver jumped into the truck and started driving away when the chicken bounced right in front of the truck. The UPS driver didn’t have time to stop. The chicken didn’t know where he was, and the farmer looked on with dread at the mess that became this poor little chicken. 

        After this happened the farmer decided he wouldn’t stop animals to invite them to live at his farm, he would wait until they asked him for help. Then he would remember to explain all the safety rules of his farm so this tragedy didn’t happen again.

        From that day on, the farmer waited just inside his fence so animals couldn’t talk to him while they were still in the road. The farmer and the UPS driver never had an accident with any animal ever again.

        ©2022 CBialczak

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Ha! “Then it came, the UPS truck…” I knew here that it wasn’t going to end well for the chicken, but the story ended well. I’m glad you liked the structure of the story spine. I agree, it keeps a story going and focused. I love the 99-word flashes but that form also gives me permission to have ambiguity, and that can become a habit. This form steers a story differently and is a different type of challenge.

    • Scott Bailey

      Good one! Like D. said, as soon as I saw that damn UPS truck I knew it was curtains for that bird.

  4. Scott Bailey

    A Corny Tale
    Scott Bailey

    Old MacDonald had a farm. He also had a side-hustle making corn mash whiskey.

    Year after year he would tend to his corn and his chickens and most importantly his still which was cleverly hidden inside a phony chicken coop.

    Before long, he noticed the yields of both the chickens eggs and his whiskey were way down.

    Week after week he kept a close eye on both but each time he looked, there was less than the week before.

    One night he staked out the phony coop. It wasn’t long before he saw his rooster stagger down the coops’ ramp and start doing cartwheels across the yard followed by the rest of the hens doing a conga line.

    A week later, Old MacDonald had a farm, a healthy moonshining gig and a really cool chicken side-show complete with drunk dancing birds.

    (Based on a true story)

    I think

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      True stories like that can be hard to remember. There’s a lot to like about this, not least of which is the depiction of the perfect crime, with sideshow benefits for all. I loved the conclusion.

  5. Norah

    This is my type of prompt. Wish I had time. Later!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      No pressure, Buddy. The Saloon is always here, 24/7. Thanks for dashing in for a visit.

      • Norah


  6. Jules

    I wrote this earlier in the month…
    Figured I’d better stick it… (just in here)… in before the month vanishes.

    Once upon a time when we could all move about with ease and freedom, we didn’t cherish everyday that we had, until Covid came we thought we were freer than the wind.

    Because of that I’d been known to seem like I was madder than a wet hen when I was cooped up. Because of that limited Circle of people we ‘Bubbled’ with, I got to know a few people perhaps better than I could have ever imagined.

    Because of that , I think some folks with memory loss suffered worse because even though each new day was really pretty much the same as the last scramble one, because well they couldn’t remember what happened the day before and finally some of those folks gave up. It didn’t help that families were separated by miles, some by choice and others for work.

    We lost too many people to a germ and its variants that should never have made it to our coast… maybe next time when we are warned we’ll all be more careful. And remember to get all the boosters we need to slow down and finally destroy those little buggers that we can’t even see without a microscope.


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Hey Jules! I’m so glad you came by to play the slot machine and leave this treasure with us, really gave me a boost. Great use of the word “coop”, we can all relate to that after 2020. See you back here next Friday!

      • Jules

        Looking forward to the next Cowsino!!

  7. Michael B. Fishman

    This one time after an especially nasty argument with Betsy where she just wouldn’t accept that there’s no reason for me to get a full-time job when she’s taking home a decent paycheck from the diner, not counting tips, I decided to get up and go for a walk and I told Betsy why. It was a ‘revolution’ method to ‘disuse the situation’, or whatever it was the marriage counselor had called it.

    Betsy handed me my beer – thank you very much Betsy – and headed out. I walked down the driveway and crossed the road and walked through Benson’s cornfield and just kept walking and walking until I came upon a house in a small clearing. I was staring at the house and thinking how weird it was to see a house on stilts when the closest body of water was way on the other side of the county and that wasn’t much more than a pond when I heard a voice.

    “Freshen that up for you, friend?”

    “Who’s that?”

    “Down here, pal.”

    I looked down and saw a winking chicken doing a one-winged handstand. I looked at the beer and for the first time saw the weird glow coming from inside the can. That’s about the time I got dizzy and lost my balance and fell to the ground. I noticed it was becoming difficult to breath and my heart seemed to be slowing down uncomfortably. So this is what it feels like . . .

    Damn that Betsy and all the money she made me waste on that stupid marriage counselor.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thinking Betsy won that argument… till death did them part.
      Fun grim story, Michael! Glad to have you playing along at the Saloon!

  8. Ann Edall-Robson

    Cloe Chicklit woke early every morning to the sound of her uncle crowing his voice hoarse.

    She left the house quietly munching on the corn niblets she always gathered the day before among the tall stalks where she secretly went to practice.

    Day after day, all summer long, she danced her routine to the songs her friend the robin, sparrow, and house finch sang from overhead.

    It was the end of summer when the sound of machinery harvesting the corn, told her it was the last day she could practice along the long straight rows in the cornfield; and it was only a few days until the competition would happen.

    From the outside it looked like another hen house, but inside was a different story when friends and family clucked, cackled, and crowed when they gathered.

    The ducks visiting flapped their wings in appreciation of the participant’s moves; while the geese’s loud honking set everyone into a feathered frenzy when Cloe moved to the middle of the floor.

    The silence that followed was the perfect prelude to the wild bird chorus singing in the rafters as Cloe dipped, strutted, and danced into her secret move, a straight line run ending with a one-wing walk over and a wink towards the judges that clinched her first place at the Annual Chicknastics Tournament.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Such fine feathered friends Cloe has. This felt like a picture book to me as I read it, in a good way. I could see it all. What I didn’t see coming was “Chicknastics”.????

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