Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ranch Naps

By Request: A Re-post
The Stringam Wagon Train
I love horses.
All horses.
So much that I ate, breathed and slept horses.
Literally.
Let me paint you a picture . . .
On the ranch, everything ran like clockwork. Cows were milked. Cattle, horses, chickens and pigs fed, eggs gathered, meals served. One never had to look at a clock to know what time it was. You could tell merely by observing the natural rhythm of the operations that were an integral part of ranch life.
I loved the horses.
And I was a natural with them. I could climb on the back of the most dastardly villain the corral had to offer and handle him with ease.
I spent most of my waking hours with the horses.
And some of my sleeping ones, as I already mentioned.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
During the day, my four-year-old self was fairly useless. I wandered here and there, usually sticking close to the barn, but occasionally breaking with tradition and getting into trouble in some other area.
(Chickens and I also have a history, but that is another story.)
On this particular day, mealtime was fast approaching.
Now one thing on the ranch that could be counted on was my appearance at meals.
The huge ranch bell would ring and inform all and sundry – including total strangers living in Timbuktu – that it was time for everyone on the Stringam Ranch to head to the house because something truly wonderful was waiting there.
Mom was a terrific cook.
The bell rang.
People assembled.
No Diane.
How could this be? She was always underfoot. Particularly at mealtimes.
They began to eat. She’ll be here soon, they reasoned.
Dessert approached. Still no Diane.
Dad was beginning to worry. He began to question the men.
Had anyone seen her?
Bud had shooed her away from the cow he was milking by singing ‘Danny Boy’. A guaranteed ‘Diane repellent’.
Al thought he had seen her going into the shed behind the barn, where the horses were.
Dad got to his feet. This was serious.
He headed for the barn.
The horses could come and go at will on the Stringam ranch. Mostly they preferred go. But occasionally, when it was too hot or too cold, and because they were basically wussies - and lazy - they would hang around under the shed beside the barn and eat the hay that they didn't have to stalk and kill themselves.
It was to this intrepid group that Dad went.
He could see tails swishing as he approached. 
He approached quietly, careful not to spook them.
A spooked horse is a stupid horse . . . well, actually most horses are st . . . oh, never mind.
He slipped carefully in under the shade. He patted one horse and slid between two others, and stood for a moment, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom.
Then he saw it. Back in the corner.
Something peculiar.
A horse with . . . something on its back.
He patted another rump and moved a little closer.
The horses started to shift a bit.
They were beginning to sense something.
Mealtime? Pshaw, that’s all the time.
Maybe a slight breeze was coming up and it was time for everyone to spook and run around like idiots? Naw. That would take effort.
An intruder? Hmm . . . this needed considering . . .
Dad had finally moved far enough through the herd that he could see into the corner.
See the smallest pony, drooping in front of the manger, with a little girl turned backwards on his back, her head on the wide, soft rump.
The rest of her in dreamland.
He had found me, but now for the tricky part. How to wake me without spooking the herd, and my own personal bed. If he spoke, the horses would surely work out the fact that it was a man standing among them and use that excuse to start running.
Or dancing.
Or playing chess.
You never know with horses.
He would have to take the chance. “Diane,” he whispered.
“Mmm?”
“Diane,” he said again, a little louder.
My eyes opened.
“Diane.” A third time.
I sat up and frowned at him. “What.”
“Time for dinner.”
Who knew a four-year-old could move that fast?

15 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Found the daughter! Now, what to do with her . . .?

      Delete
  2. That's amazing. I love this story. What a good little pony to let you sleep on him undisturbed! Animals are surprising sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A gem of a pony for sure! Worth its weight in gold!

      Delete
  3. I can picture the sceen and also the lump in your dad's throat!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Aww...I can totally imagine this. Such a great story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! One of my favourites! Not necessarily my dad's, though.

      Delete
  5. I remember my older boy, he was a speedster too, always first to the table and never spilled a single mouthful. Unfair that he is now the skinniest of all of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. How does that work, I'd like to know!!!

      Delete
  6. I've said before how much I envy your childhood. Falling asleep on a horse - that would have been my idea of heaven! From a parent perspective now though - I am glad you survived to write about your adventures!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a great childhood. Now that I know I could survive it! :)

      Delete
  7. Awww. Such a sweet tale. And such an idyllic childhood!

    ReplyDelete

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