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July 25: Story Challenge in 99-words

It’s not every day I meet a strawberry farmer on Roberts Street. I’d seen the man walk past my home dozens of times. When I was outside weeding and trimming my overgrown tarragon forest, he stopped to chat.

He looks like a farmer who tinkers with tractors. His jeans and plaid shirt with snaps were brushed and cleaned but stained. The man’s hands were working mits built over decades or turning tools and coupling plows to tractors. He smelled faintly of industrial grease.

He’s Chuck, the Keweenaw strawberry farmer who taught me about commitment in a can.

Chuck has farmed strawberries on High Point Road for more than 30 years. He thought he might retire, but then he started repairing some of his old tractors. Chuck even went into the bush to retrieve an old bailer that folks from the 1940s left behind. Fixing the tractors made him realize how much he loved growing Copper Country strawberries. Come next spring, he’s going to start with new plants.

Chuck told me he found commitment in a can. He’s reviving his tractors one can of paint at a time. Each new can, he recommits. After he finishes painting one tractor red, he’ll count the cans to measure the work. It made me wonder, where do writers find commitment to their craft?

What’s your “can”?

I think of the can as a container and that connects me to images, which are the containers of dreams and stories.

It’s a quick post this week because rumor has it, Kid and Pal’s creator was seen in the Wisconsin woods. Maybe it was just a Bigfoot sighting, or an optical illusion caused by the Paulding Lights. But I have to go check it out.

July 25, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story based on the phrase “commitment in a can.” What is the commitment and to whom? Describe the can. How does it expand the story? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by July 31, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.


  1. Norah says:

    What fun to find a writer with a huge imagination in the Wisconsin woods. She’s got big footprints to fill. Enjoy!

  2. denmaniacs4 says:

    Coming from CAN-ada, this should have been an easy one…you’d think…

  3. Now that’s an interesting challenge: “Commitment in a Can”
    Fancy that chance meeting. 🙂 And chasing the other…

  4. Jules says:


    Here’s hopin’ you meet up with Kid and Pal’s writer!!

    I got a two fer this week. ‘Cause I missed Harry last week. So here’s me just having fun with words that sound alike and maybe just maybe relate to what is actually happening?

    Fueled ‘Can’? & 17 Harry’s New *Canon

    Fueled ‘Can’?

    Flying in any plane takes skill, and often seems like a big commitment in a ‘can’ that is held together with a few rivets and maybe a competent complement of Captain and crew. This night, like most red eye flights, would be quiet. Passengers tend to try and sleep. Just get to the right altitude with the right attitude and the sky is a deep velvet with stars.

    in a can

    Commitment to any destination comes after the stars and with the welcome of dawn. The realization liftoff is great, flight is beautiful, landing safely is good.

    © JP/dh

    (Duck & Can) 17 Harry’s New *Canon

    Harry was committed to getting home, even if he wasn’t quite sure where it was. He gently lay Quill down and took a stroll out of the Saloon to rest under the Poetree. There was a little rubber duck that looked like Superman. The black curl on its forehead and the cape, made Harry smile. Near the Poetree was a picket fence with a can of white paint and a brush. Looks like someone had started a job and got called away. Harry thought he’d help, so he picked up the brush (hoping it didn’t talk) and began painting.

    © JP/dh

    *What does ‘canon’ mean? A canon is a group of works that contributes to the advancement of a field of study or to an artistic period. Shakespeare’s plays and poetry are considered a part of the canon of English literature, for example.

  5. Liz H-H says:

    Sorry! I had to resubmit bc I messed up our hero’s name. Pease take this second one!

  6. I could not write a story, but gave a personal take to this prompt.

  7. Commitment In a Can

    “Whoa. Stop. Back up. Kid, why’re ya packin yer saddlebags?”
    “Goin forward, Pal. Ta Wisconsin. Gonna find You-Know-Who an give her a piece a my mind.”
    “Thought her bein away gives ya peace a mind. Whyn’t ya stay put?”
    “S’pose yer right. Truth is, I’m hopin it’s actchally a bigfoot sightin.”
    “Ah, we got our own bigfoot. Ernie’s still here. Join us, we’re injoyin some cold beers.”
    “S’pose I could commit ta mebbe jist one.”
    “Yep, then anuther one.”
    “Ernie, thought ya’d give up drinkin.”
    “Don’t worry Kid, I ain’t give up on givin up. My can ain’t opened.”

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