News for those who live, work and play in North Santiam Canyon

Adventures of ‘Oink’ – Farm childhood inspires book series

Oink, Oink, Oink!

Three books about one little pig were written over the course of a decade by local author Patricia (Strickland) Betters: Oink, A Love Story, Oink and the Willow House, and just out, Oink’s Friend, Jack. Betters, 84, will host a book signing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 3 at Cascade Assisted Living in Stayton where she now resides.

Betters was raised in Ouray County, Colorado in the 1940s and 1950s.

Author Patricia Betters
Author Patricia Betters

“I grew up on my family ranch, just outside of Ridgway,” she said. “It was situated under Court House Rock, five miles east of town.”

The 365-acre ranch serves as the backdrop for the children’s books she authored, she said. 

The books tell of the life of a little girl named Patty, who rides home every day from Cow Creek Elementary School on her horse, Babe. She shares her life in the one-room school and chores on the ranch, relaying her relationships with the ranch animals. These included Oink, her pet pig who was the runt of the litter.

The Strickland family lived in a log cabin of sorts. Her mother, Alice, brother, Tim, and sister, Marie, tended to the ranch while her father, Vincent, worked in the Idarado Mine as a hard-rock miner. After Betters finished eighth grade, the family moved to Delta, where she graduated from high school.

“One really gets the sense of how everyone worked hard on the Ridgway ranch, dawn to dusk,” said Alan Todd, the publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer in 2013, after reading the first book. “It’s also clear that love was central to the young Betters, as the relationships shared among her and her animals are engaging and amusing.

“And just as any warm and humorous tale ends with a crowd scene, Oink, A Love Story ends with her dog, cats and pig snuggling into bed with her, lying upon four quilts under the canopy of the Cimarron Mountains,” Todd added in his review.

In 2009, Betters suffered a stroke from which she has recovered, but was left with limited speech skills.

“It was then, with the help of my daughter, Michelle, who illustrated the books, that I wrote and self-published my first Oink book,” Betters said.

Betters wrote the books for her grandchildren “so they might know how I grew up in beautiful Colorado at a time very unlike today.

“People have responded very positively,” she said. “I have many people waiting for the adventures of Oink in my third book.”

Many of Betters’ friends at Cascade Assisted Living bought her books to give their grandchildren, and are excited to attend her book signing, she said. 

“I have also sold my books through Salem’s Riverfront Carousel gift shop,” she said. 

Betters feels good to have been able to show friendship and “unconditional love” through her stories, which, she said, have been her passion.

“These stories give me an outlet to express that, especially to children,” she said. 

She is not sure she will write anymore at this point, but said, “We’ll see what Oink comes up with.”

“I would like to encourage anyone who has a dream that it’s never too late to pursue it,” Betters said. 

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