9 April 2021

Sorting The Herd

They swooped in from behind, swift and silent.

The horses started but were good quiet horses, perfect for the small children  they carried so well. A nice ride down the quiet country lane was almost to its end when the herd arrived. Quickly ushering her children  to the side of the road,to the barn we had been almost back to before the attack. My mom turned and dove back  into the herd.

Bicycle tires hissed on the pavement as their riders peddled as hard as thy could, never bothering to pull up at all for the small family and their horses who had the misfortune of being in their path. Without manners or concern they sped on.

Or tried to.

On her big red Morgan  gelding neither mother nor horse hesitated for a second but leapt into the middle of them. With no way past one rider was forced to apply his breaks at last. Not willingly. The Morgan gelding cut him out and held him like any other dumb animal cut from a herd and worked by a horse. He dared to be mad but mom was madder.
She let him know exactly what she thought of him and the rude inconsiderate friends in his herd. He didn’t care. Like most bikers it was his road, his right, and no way his fault. After holding him there long enough to chew him out and  make him lose some of his precious time, mom turned her horse and allowed the steer to go.

Perhaps nothing was accomplished. Maybe they looked for a road without a crazy lady on a horse to ride the next time. But maybe,  just maybe, they had some small thought for someone besides themselves on their next ride.

One thing was accomplished for sure though. The image of my mom riding a horse into a herd of bicycles and cutting one out will be forever imprinted in my brain. What a mom.  What a horse!

18 January 2021

Hide And Seek

We were out for a ride. Well, the kids were. I was out for a walk.

8 was being lead on Lady. He likes to zip and enjoys her speedy walk. The Goblin Child was on Rusty. He’s big and goes so slow with her. She’s far more comfortable without zipping.

The Goblin Child always wants me to keep them on a lead line. She doesn’t want to hold the reins. I keep making her. Rusty stays right with us anyway. We work so much at liberty it’s unlikely he is going to do anything but walk with me anyway.

I lead Lady through a space between the stacks of hay. It makes rides more interesting, we can pretend to be following narrow tree lined paths. Rusty was plodding slowly behind. We, Lady,8, and I, turned between a different stack. Rusty was out of sight. Being the loving mother that I am, we quickly hid behind the stack. What is the point of having children if you can’t torture them a little?

We waited and waited but they never came.

I was getting worried. A small amount of torture is one thing. What if something had happened to them though!

We went in search. There she was behind a different stack of hay! She had the exact same idea and had hid to scare us!

I was so proud. Not only had she been willing to do the steering herself she had steered a completely different direction form us.

We all laughed and continued on our ride.

31 December 2020

Sledding

It’s been warm these last couple of days of vacation. The snow isn’t melting but it’s the perfect temp to play in. And finally wet enough to build a snow man! The kids did it all themselves except for lifting the middle part up. I like the nose they made him.

Then we went out to the pasture for sledding.

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16 October 2020

A Fall Day

It was one of those fall days. The air was crisp and clear. Chilly but not cold with the sun shining in that brilliant golden way it does no  other time of year.

We left early for gymnastics, leaving my husband in the field with his combine. My daughter asked for doughnuts, who am I to tell her no. We ordered ahead and stopped on the way to pick them up. Then ate them on the way too the state park. We had good reason  for leaving early!

The children wanted to stop at the usual playground, or the unusual one. I had a goal in mind though. There was a picnic shelter, we had stopped near it to pick wild raspberries this summer. From the road you could see the trail wending up the hill. It didn’t look exciting from the road but we had never hiked there. Might as well give it a try.

Starting up the wide mowed trail the first thing we came to was a jack-o-lantern. Its face charred and black. Finding that out in a national forest surrounded by bone dry tender was horrifying. The ease with which a fire could have started was terrifying. Probably college kids out messing around? We walked on.

The kids fought the whole way up the hill. It was cold. They were tired. Why couldn’t we go back.

I was determined though and with a firm grasp of each child’s hand I drug them up the hill.

At the top the trail narrowed, then narrowed further as we walked. Then began to snake about through rocks forgotten as the rest of the hill wore away. Ungainly chunks of stone left bare and exposed. By now the children were happy.  Nothing pleases them more than cliffs falling away on both sides that they can try to throw themselves down. Up and around and down we twisted, finally coming back to the car. Laughing and happy by then to have been forced on the walk.

It was too late to have time for lunch before gymnastics though.

Oh well a lunch of the remaining doughnuts it was!

Back home again they wanted to settle in  in front of computers. Until I lured them back out with promises of combines and grain trailers.

A grain trailer full of corn is akin to a huge wonderful sandbox that could kill you. Shoes discarded at the bottom you have to scale the steep walls of the trailer, scramble over the top to find the safety within. Protected by those same fortress like walls play inside can be as wild and carefree as can be. Until the trailer gets full. Then the sides can be reached again. Bouncing must be constrained.

They frolicked until the trailer had to be hauled to the elevator and dumped. Then we took a break all squeezed into the combine together. With the children getting bigger we don’t fit as well as we used to.  It was warm and sheltered from the biting wind that wanted to be included in  the play in the trailer.

The children  finally began to wilt from  their long day. After a couple of rounds we headed back to the house. Who doesn’t deserve some computer time after a day that long? Tomorrow it may snow. Today we enjoyed fall.

 

 

 

 

 

31 July 2020

Horseless Summer

Country kids grow up a little different than kids in town. I am forever grateful for our large backyard.

Right now that life isn’t so much about horses. They send their time standing out in their pasture, eating and fighting flies. We are busy hauling hay, working summer fallow, canning beans, freezing anything that looses it’s crisp when canned, working in the garden, and generally keeping busy.

As important as I think it is for the kids to work with us and learn the value of labor, we also do our bast to get out and enjoy the summer.

Hot days are much better spent in the shade or water than horseback though so we go to the lake or explore water holes out in the pasture. Soon enough they will be back in school and I will get to work horses again. Maybe even clean house! 🤣 Until then they will be happy with a bareback ride in from grazing the yard and petting noses over the fence. I will be happy that they are enjoying the horses, enjoyment doesn’t have to mean riding.

28 July 2020

Adventuring

We’ve been going over at least once a week and checking on the heifers. In a pasture near them there is a water hole. It’s fed by a spring that at some time someone cleaned out and dug a big hole around. It is quite the bubbling spring for this area. On past it the creek runs water. Before it, nothing.

We’ve gone before and thrown our fishing lines in. Not really in hopes of catching anything. We can see lot of fish but they are tiny. Instead just for something to do while we hang out together.

We went again today. Both kids had a pole and were left alone to figure them out. Or not. There was some success. Then they, one of them, got bored and started to wander. Across the creek  and up the ‘cliff’ on the other side. Eventually we followed. Up the cliff and across to the old windmill.

The windmill isn’t used any more. The tank under it is empty and collecting junk. All around it was more junk. Great junk. Foundations and remains of old buildings. We wandered thinking of what once was. We discussed how people would have chosen this spot to settle. No, not the trees near by but something to do with them. Yes, probably because of the spring. An easy close place to get water in this dry empty land.

On down the fence away from  the old building site then back down to the water, A different water hole. More big cotton woods offering shade and music. In  this hole we could see bigger fish. Still not big enough to eat but who wants to actually catch them anyway. Our poles were back at the first water hole though. Out on a fallen tree 8 decided to dip his feet in and Daisy decided to follow. We found a baby turtle shell, minus the baby turtle. Now we all had treasures to carry along.

The fastest way back was to follow the water along the base of thee banks. Or not. It quickly became too steep and there were nettles. We ended up climbing the cliff, with me carrying the pipe, turtle shell and a weird round thing I wanted. It was alot to carry up a cliff. Some how we made it then back down our original path and back across the water.

We were too tired to go back with fishing rods as originally planned and went on to check cows instead. We’ll come back next time. I hope.

15 July 2020

Vacation

We been running and working so hard all summer there hasn’t been time to breath, much less get out and do anything fun.

Other than work.  Work is fun.

I still can’t believe it isn;t early spring. Summer should be just coming not almost over. When I realized that school was going to be starting shortly, maybe, I  decided we had to get out and do something.

Wheat harvest was just finished, short and sweet this year. Just a few days long and not much wheat in what was harvested. The next day was supposed to be unseasonably cool. I had  been waiting for a day like that. It was time to take the kids to Toadstool!

My hard working husband even took the day off work and came with us.

We went to the Cook Shack first. It was on the way. The kids haven’t been  here before. They were fascinated. Everything had to be explored. They ran through the town like real old west hooligans terrorizing the locals. The slated their thirst at the bar with a root beer.

I had one goal while we were there and had to get pictures of the infamous horse skull with the halter grown in. It makes the rounds on social media regularly and I wanted to show it in it’s natural habitat.

Then we went to Toadstool. It was packed. We got the last parking spot and grabbed a picnic table. I had packed lunch and we were getting hungry. The children drank their root beer and could barely contain themselves long enough to eat.

Once freed 8 took off down the trail. Or somewhere near the trail. Or not. He climbed every peak and tried to kill himself. It was the best playground he had ever seen. We gasped, held our breath, squeezed out eyes shut. Somehow he never did fall down a cliff or off a mountain. The Goblin Child followed behind at a much more sedate post but still did her fair share of climbing.

After making a lap around the short trail, with children walking quietly beside us by the end, we got back inn the car and headed into the depths of Sioux county. I wanted to go past Montrose and see the battle sight and church. There was a pickup backed up to the door of the church and the sound of hammering coming from inside. The kids and I went to look around the cemetery then wandered back towards the church. I had thought there was a plaque somewhere telling about the history of the area but didn’t see it anywhere. Maybe the people working would know.

Inside a young man and his grandfather maybe? Were hard at work. They were restoring the church to its original state and doing a wonderful job. They had no idea about a battle ever being fought there though or any historic plaque. I think it was out in the pasture, way off the road. We weren’t going to try to drive out there in the car. We would have to read about it at home.  The battle  and the town

From there it was back south towards the hills again. There was a small park I remembered stopping by years ago, before the fire that had cleared most of the trees out of that area. I could only hope the park hadn’t burnt too. It was marked on the map we had so maybe it was there. The children were restless and my farmer husband is not the fan  of the badlands that the rest of us are. I hoped I didn’t disappoint everyone.

After winding through the creek bottom and worrying that we had missed it somehow we came to the place, marked by a big entryway sign. Coffee park. We pulled in and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. There was an old set of playground equipment. The dangerous kind the kids love with a huge set of teeter totters that nearly gave me a heart attack, even after their escapades at Toadstool. A babbling creek that ran clear over rocks. Carefully mown and maintained out there inn the middle of nowhere. We ran and played and wadded and sat on the bridge and read, relaxing in the cool shade.

From there it was up Pants Butte road, the closest we come to mountain climbing out here. I loved it. The kids were not impressed.

Fort Robinson was on the way home so we stopped at the Ice House Ponds, not a place we had ever been before. It was beautiful but everyone was tired and getting grouchy. After a bit of playing and fish watching we headed for home. It had been a great day and a fun mini family vacation. We’re going to have to try to make it up that way every summer.

10 July 2020

Rain

We spent the day getting the combine ready to go. The wheat was dry and the next day supposed to be hot. Miserably hot.

It was time for wheat harvest to begin.

Getting the combine cleaned up and ready to go is a family affair. Like all things in farming are. The kids love to get out there and help, they think the combine is one big jungle gym. We love to encourage them to get out and work, to learn to love farming, and tractors, and being with us.

Finished with the combine we worked in the garden, weeding and admiring the fast growing pumpkin vines. Watching them reach towards each other we talked about how they can grow up to six inches in a day. We took pictures so we could look again the next day and see how much they grew.

Towards evening clouds began to grow.

It’s been so dry. Rain would be good.

Rain is just as scary as it is hoped for on dry years. During drought we are just as likely to get hail, or dry lightening strikes, as we are rain.

The thunder rumbles grew closer and the cloud was growing right on top of us. When the rain drops began to fall they were big and heavy, scattered across the sidewalk. Then it started. Our son said it was raining ice. Technically he was right. I love the names kids give things. He was frightened and worried by the ice rain. Honestly everyone was.

My husband stood in the open door and watched. I couldn’t and stayed in the kitchen, hiding, as I cooked supper.

Lacking the wind to drive it the hail fell straight down, scattered and small. It didn’t stop though, going on and on. Then the skies opened and dumped hail in a frozen downpour. I buried my head in my cooking. My husband cursed it from the doorway.

Once it finally stopped and the lightening moved far enough away we went out to survey the damage.

Tree litter covered the sidewalk. Hail stones still covered the ground. Glancing towards the garden told me I didn’t want to inspect that any closer right now. On the fourwheeler, as a family, like farming always is, we drove to look at the corn fields. See how bad it was.

It could have been worse. It could always be worse. We’ve all seen the corn completely destroyed, beat back down to bare ground. The trees stripped completely bare and killed in one summer storm. It was bad enough though.

With lips drawn tight my husband stared silently across the tattered fields.

In the distance lightening still flashed in the dark clouds as the sun broke through the clouds. A rainbow lit the darkness.

It’s been a rough year. We will be alright. As always, as a family.

8 June 2020

Walking

I’ve been enjoying walks along the creek in the pasture.

Not sure anyone else is, but I sure enjoy it.

We’ve been going over and checking on  our heifers. They are in a pasture over there with the other heifers, and Poppy, and I want Ghost to remember that she is tame. No  problems there. I was nearly smashed today because ALL of the heifers, and Poppy, think they are pets.

The creek  bottom is full of poison ivy and the creek is mostly dry. It’s still fun, in our boots and jeans.

There is a really good spring in  the bottom. The moss bright green where the water comes up. The deerflies were plentiful too. The Goblin Child was very confused at first. She said she thought a butterfly just bit her! Why would a butterfly bite her? We stared for a long time at the fish, small minnows and bigger somethings swimming about. The water rippled violently with the shear number of minnows flocking away from our presence.

As we climbed through the sprawling branches of a big willow the children following behind called for me to come back! They thought they had found a lizard!

Going back I found a big? Not caterpillar. Not grub. Something though. With its long body looking somewhat like a lizard sticking out of the cow poop. I had walked right over it but they noticed. We stopped and looked. Poking it gently in curiosity. Then continued on our way.