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After School

I took care of a few chores before following the kids in the house. After a long day in  school they always want their computers and food. Food is allowed.  Computers not for awhile.

The Goblin Child was in her room with the door shut. Do not come in! She yelled from behind closed door.

I didn’t go in.

A short while later she walked out the door changed from her school clothes into jeans and boots and her new shirt with the picture of Rusty playing fetch.

I want to get Lady, she declared. So we did.

There are no words dearer to a mothers heart. I was even willing to brave the suffocating heat of the miserable August afternoon if she was wanting to play with her horse instead of begging for a computer.

I caught Lady, because braving the herd is not something a small child should do, and delivered her lead to waiting hands. She was brought to the shade of the tree in the yard to graze and the hose demanded.

We were surprised to find Lady not a fan of fly spray, that always comes as a shock. Not sure how she would feel about water if she didn’t like to be sprayed we proceeded cautiously. Apparently water falls inn a different category and she accepted the hose with a sigh of disgust.

Of course 8 couldn’t have that. No  one is allowed to play quietly without him. He ran and grabbed her from behind. Cried when she sprayed him with the hose and the game was on. Lady would get a splash of water, 8 would poke The Goblin Child, The Goblin  Child would swing thee hose around soaking anything in her path, me, and spray her brother who would shriek and run away.

As long as she had that lush green grass Lady could care less.

I put an end to the game when they couldn’t control themselves enough to stay at what I felt was a comfortable distance from Lady’s hind end. The limits of a good horse should not be tested too well or foolishly.

8 went off to play in the hose alone and insist we needed to finish draining the pool. Together we hefted it up and dumped the water out. Once again, lady never batted an eye.

My daughter was done though. Her brother had somehow ruined her fun. I wasn’t going to argue. If horse time wasn’t fun anymore forcing it wouldn’t change things. It was still before the magic computer time but since she had asked to go outside and do other things I thought computer time seemed like a fitting reward. Lady got turned back out and the children went in.

Maybe we’ll get to do this again  tomorrow.

 

Out Riding

For the Goblin Child’s birthday this year she got a lovely little bay Arab mare. Tiny and delicate like she is,  they are working towards becoming the perfect pair.

Lady got a couple of days off with the start of school. Over the weekend we have been making up for that. Friday we saddled up and took long walks around the yard and down the drive letting both children get used to her. On a lead line.

They will be staying on a lead for awhile, until everyone is perfectly comfortable and used to each other.

Today we did it again. At the end of the lead. I told The Goblin Child that she was in charge of steering. I was only here as a safety so she didn’t get run off with. They had to fight the pull of alfalfa on one side and corn on the other. It was tough going.

We made it to the mail box and back though. On the way back Lady walked happily right down the middle of the road, not going after food and not caring at all about the sharp rocks. She’s got some nice feet.

In the yard we came across 8 who had just finished working on a pivot with his father. He jumped out from behind the trees, running and playing. Lady didn’t bat an eye. He led us to the crab apple tree where tiny tart apples were ripening. Red and tempting and just out of reach. We marched right into the front yard and used Lady as a ladder to pick apples from.

They were too tart for children and even Lady delicately turned her nose up at them 😆

8 wanted to pick apples too so we switched places, and helmets, then The Goblin Child helped heft hi into the saddle. He took his turn picking apples then  enjoyed a short ride back to the house.

Leading Lady

I was busy moving electric fence to enlarge the bottle calves pasture. it requires lots of trips back and forth and is very involved and more complicated than a simple electric fence should be.

Having children helping or even playing around the house and yard doesn’t help matters.

On one trip through the yard to check on them as I went I spotted them running back and forth to the horses gate. They enthusiastically told me they were getting corn for the horses! I stepped in the house for a drink and when I came back out they were working hard, together, to haul a bucket of water to the gate. Lady was standing there chewing happily on the grain offerings they had hauled earlier. They weren’t fighting. They weren’t trying to get out of work. Instead they each strained at their sides of the five gallon buckets handle, working together to get the job done.

I was so proud of them. So I tried to help.

Let me grab Lady and bring her out! You don’t need to haul the bucket any farther and  you’ll be able to play with her easier, I said as I walked towards the gate, halter inn hand.

NO! The screamed! NO Lady screamed, turning and taking off the other direction. I had ruined everything and they let me know it in no uncertain terms.

I apologized profusely.

They climbed the gate calling desperately for Lady to come back.

The whole herd came thundering up and they were quick to get back to the safe side of the fence. Luckily Lady came through and went through a gate that no one else did. I was able to redeem myself from me earlier blunder by shutting the get and getting them Lady all by herself again.

They hauled her hay and more water. My son and I had a chance to discuss how horses can only eat so much corn. They can’t have as much as they want or however much we feel like hauling for them. My daughter grabbed her halter and was trying to figure out how to get it on Lady. That sent Lady off again. Luckily the gate was shut. We had her trapped.

I was able to convince her that she should let us up to her. As she’s making friends with the other horses she’s less interested in us and not enthused about being caught. We’ll get that changed just like all the other horses, she’ll come running when she hears us before too long.

Giving the rope to my daughter she lead lady out of the corrals and into the yard. There they tapped and grazed and finally decided that sitting on Lady while she grazed might be fun.

It’s hard to get used to the feel of new horses. It’s also hard to get used to the feeling of new people. Lady walked quick circles around me as soon as I sat my daughter up there. My daughter clung to my hand and the mane. Once they both got settled and held still we were able to graze until everyone relaxed.

What better reinforcement, for both of them, than still quiet time spent grazing in the yard. Moving will come soon enough, there’s no rush.

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.

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.

Wild Child

How in  the world is this child supposed to be ready for school in two weeks?

He has spent the summer mostly naked, covered in  mud, and as feral as a wild animal. He wanders the garden eating tomatoes like an apple. Is in and out of the pool or hose constantly through out the day. He drives fourwheelers, and some times the pickup.

He is fearless and tough as nails. Except for his feelings, those are tender and soft. He will often cry after he has accidentally caused hurt to someone and say that he’s mad because he hurt his own  feelings.

He can’t sit still and loves adventure. He loves tractors and computers, helping the guys do their work. He’s funny and kind when he’s not driving us crazy.

Hopefully school can  handle him, and not break that spirit.

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Endless Summer

This summer that seemed endless just a few months ago is winding down. School is set to start as normal in a couple weeks.

I am looking forward to it with relief and excitement bit also with dread and disrepair. While a little time away from the children would be nice once in  awhile, for the sake of the cleanliness of this house and to get work done on my job, I also hate to see them go and never feel like we took full advantage of summer while it was here.

We have been doing our best not to waste a moment of the time we have left.

I needed to run to the library to get some work done on the summer reading program we are doing. Better late than  never and better on line than not at all.

While I recorded the book reading and played on their tablets in the cool air conditioning of the library. With that done went downtown.

The children love to stop and get smoothies at the coffee shop in town. I am happy to oblige them whenever possible. When we went to get them though we noticed the coffee shop was doing lunch. It twas a bit early but with their father out working summer fallow we had all the time in  the world. We put in our order for lunch then took our smoothies to the park. Playing and eating I loved every time they exclaimed over how small the toys had gotten sine our last trip there. It had been awhile.

When it was time to go pick up lunch we took it to eat at the gazebo. Between bites and after they ran to the little park next to the gazebo park  and played on the toys. There was a new piece of equipment they had been wanting to try. Apparently it wasn’t as good as it looked or it was just too hot. Before long they were ready to go.

I had thrown goggles and towels in  the car and we took the gravel road home past the lake. We’ve been making good use of the thinngy that lets us play music from the phone through the car speakers and love singing along together to Peterson Farm Bros and Farmer Derek. Pasture Road has been our theme song for checking cows all summer. We drove and sang and were to the lake in no time.

The good spot to get to the water, down at the end of the road was empty again. We waded, I waded, they snorkeled and ran through the water until their teeth chattered with cold on the hot sunny day. Laid out inn  the sun then waded in again. The Goblin Child puts her face down inn the water and swims all over the place like a fish. 8 build sand castles and gallivants about splashing and making a huge ruckus.

Then chilled to the bone it was time to go home. Another day of summer carefully not wasted.

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.

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.

Fire Season

Yesterday was the hottest day yet this year. Temps creeping into the hundreds. Rain has been nearly nonexistent. The winds that have howled all summer have sucked away the few drops we’ve received before the thirsty grass could take it in.
We had to go to town. On the way home as our frozen food melted in the trunk we drove towards clouds. At first it was exciting, the chance of rain to quench the parched fields.

As we drove though the lighting began hitting the ground ahead of us.

Watching the lightening come down out of the narrow strip of rain makes your stomach clinch and churn. It takes a lot less than that to make everything burn.

As we turned south towards home smoke was visible rising up to meet the clouds. From there I could tell though it was too far off to be us burning.

The relief of that is as great as the guilt for being glad it is someone else.

All evening small storms continued to roll through. Stepping outside to look at the sky and scan the horizon regularly I finally saw what I had been dreading.

Smoke.

Thick black smoke in the direction of the pasture where my cows are spending the summer. Staring intently and carefully gauging landmarks I decided it had to be north of them, the wind was still hard out of the south. They should be safe.

Just to be on the safe side I texted my husband to tell him I was going for a drive to check it out. Almost home from his job in town he said to wait, he’d go with me.
In his car we drove out. The smoke was well away from us. I texted a friend, yes it was by them but they were alright.

This morning the local fire dept. posted the story and pictures. 400 bales of hay and a few acres. Another one over a hundred acres of pasture.

Thankfully it wasn’t us but the drought shows no sign of breaking. Not this time doesn’t mean not next time.

We’ll keep watching the horizon for smoke and praying for rain.