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It’s Only Natural

One must be careful when drawing uplifting moral lessons from nature.  The barbaric and the hostile are just as easily derived from observing the animal kingdom at close quarters.  Both modern and ancient peoples have been guilty of sacrificing human welfare (and sometimes humans!) in idolatrous pantheism. However, I believe that for those who submit […]


A Tale of Two Goats

This is a story of two goats. The first, pictured above, is a semi-feral remnant from the goat herd that used to populate the farm where we rent. He spooked us the first time we stumbled across him on a hike – bursting out from an abandoned farmhouse he has apparently claimed since the rest […]


Breaking Ground

For the first time, we have 12 boys at Whetstone Boys Ranch. 12 sweaty, energetic, hormonal, emotionally-charged boys. 12 boys to serve, love, teach, mentor, counsel, feed, support, discipline, challenge, comfort, and console.This has been the plan for this campus since we opened in the fall of 2011. 12 was the magic number.12 tribes of […]



When I was in college, way back in the last millennium, I had the great fortune to be cast as a Jet in West Side Story. Role of lifetime, right? I was billed as “Big Deal,” and I had one line during a scene that the Sharks and Jets meet to decide where they will […]



Who doesn’t want to be seen and heard? To be liked and thanked? Who among us refuses to accept gratitude?Raise your hand if you find yourself belittling and scoffing the attention of those you respect and admire.Now, everyone take your hand down…except Joaquin Phoenix.Appreciation is universally accepted, encouraged and, if we care to admit it, […]


Hard-Fast Flexible

There is a term we use around the ranch called the “hard-fast flexible.”  It comes up in conversation as follows:  “Hey, Matt,” I say. “What should I do when a boy won’t stop cussing?” (Matt Foster has been our program director and lead therapist for the last 6 years, so he’s had to answer this […]


Double-Edged Sword

At Whetstone Boys Ranch, we come face to face with some rather unpleasant behaviors. It’s our job to deal with the root causes of these which go back generations, so we don’t take it personally; but it’s not surprising that we might develop some rudeness ourselves. We call it being blunt or honest. We dress […]


Guitar Hero

I currently attend a boarding school in Missouri that also is a working ranch.  We have chickens and goats and cows, oh my!  Mr. Evans, who is from New Jersey, is the house dad.  He works for the majority of the week, so I get to hang out with him frequently.  He likes music, fishing, […]


Yogi Berra

“If life were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” ~Yogi Berra Every Wednesday morning we have a staff meeting in the basement/school room at Whetstone Boys Ranch.  It’s a rather lengthy and sometimes emotional affair. We address pertinent issues, problem-solve together, seek clarification, and offer suggestions that might shed some light into the dark places of our boys’ […]


No Place Like Home

This September was a month to remember. Three boys graduated from Whetstone within one week of each other, and headed back to their part of the country. Back to their families, their friends, their favorite restaurants, fishing holes and coffee shops.  Sleeping in their own beds, reclining in their favorite comfy chair, and probably catching […]

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