Camilla and Carli Cardwell, 9-year-old identical twins, live a charmed life on the Cardwell Ranch, a working cattle operation in the Texas Panhandle, owned and managed by Austin and Ella Cardwell, former rodeo champions. The twins learn from the land and the animals who graze it.
Two for the Herd is the first book in the Cardwell Ranch Stories. The book gently deals with bullying, how to deal with being considered different, death and dying, family unity, and friendship. The reader is asked to suspend reality and accept talking horses, birds, and dogs. The talking animals teach the lessons, one at a time, through positive adventures and moments of adversity.
The book has moments of comedy, sadness, fear, positive adventures, and near-catastrophic events. It addresses the strength of family through moments of sadness and the celebration of life, and the challenges it can present. It is gentle and loving and family-friendly. The reader will fall in love with the characters, the humans, and the animals. Two cardinals watch over the family. They are the only two characters who do not speak. The reader is asked to name them as Shiloh has.
Bailey the Birthday Horse is book two in the Cardwell Ranch Stories It follows the Cardwell family through summer and into fall, Austin Cardwell wants to plan a surprise birthday party for his wife, Ella. At the beginning of this story, it is late August, and Ella is still mourning the death of her prize-winning, barrel-racing mare.
Austin and the twins, Camilla and Carli, make plans to have the party of the century for Ella. Austin wants to find the perfect mare for her to replace Miah. He struggles with who can help him find that horse. The choice becomes evident, and the search begins.
The twins go to a horse auction with Austin and his horse trader. They meet a wonderful woman, the owner of the auction. She becomes a very important part of the success of Austin’s search. The twins have found a new friend, and Austin has found not one horse but two.
A surprise storm forces the horses to share the barn. As the readers of The Cardwell Ranch Stories know, the horses, dogs, and birds talk to one another. The animal conversations always teach a lesson.
Enjoy the party and the people added to this story. You will meet the twin’s grandparents, learn more about Jess and Liz, and meet Lilith Duncan, owner of Duncan and Company Horse Auction. The characters are colorful and gentle, and all have a story to tell.
And yes, the Cardinals are still hanging around.
Bari and the Barn Cat is the third book in the series. It's the story of a beautiful chestnut Arabian gelding can run as fast as the wind. He is one of the youngest members of the Cardwell Ranch herd and was purchased for his ability to work cattle. Even though he is known far and wide as an award-winning cutting horse, his self-esteem does not match his reputation. He is sensitive and a little jealous of the other horses, especially Lakota who is the “burr” under Bari’s saddle. The two can’t get along and Bari begins to show signs of stress related to the strained relationship.
Enter a gray and black striped cat with a white nose. Once named Sugar, the cat hopes to take up residency in the Cardwell’s barn. It is known that some cats are cut out to be barn cats to rid the area of critters and keep peace within its walls. The cat meets Bailey and Tesoro, the newest members of the Cardwell herd. It becomes clear that the cat is among very elegant company. It also becomes clear the cat is not a traditionalist. It has a very interesting way of handling “critter control.”
Camilla and Carli, the Cardwell twins, discover the cat nestled behind bales of hay in the barn. If Ella does not find the cat’s rightful owner, the twins want to adopt the cat and give it a proper name.
The book is filled with adventure and family celebrations. Bari needs attention. Lakota revels in causing trouble. Dante and Creede continue to be the voices of reason. Willow is growing up and Shiloh is managing the herd the best she can. Bailey and Tesoro are put into the herd. The Cardwells prepare for the long winter Austin dreads. The winter winds blow. The snows come. Bari and the barn cat become fast friends by helping one another weather the winter and Lakota. The resident's “horse therapist” has a new home.
Who tied the orange plaid ribbon around the cat’s neck?
Lakota, Hero Horse is the fourth book in the series. As the author and illustrator of the Cardwell Ranch Stories, I ask you to suspend reality and enjoy the talking animals who live in my books. Also, the illustrations are primitive to give the reader a taste of gentler times that might be captured on my ranching relative's Brownie camera. Read the stories in order or not. They each stand alone, but the Cardwell family would love for you to get to know them, starting with Book One.
Lakota, Hero Horse begins with the Cardwell twins' tenth birthday party, a Christmas parade with their friends, and Christmas vacation with their grandparents. The story tells of gentle family celebrations, a "Charlie Brown" scrawny tree, hummingbird totem poles, and a courageous rescue by Lakota.
Meet the twin's group of friends, the Cansler's horses, Buster and Bobcat, and the grandparents who have also lived a rancher's life.