A Little Bit Western


Sugar and Spice

Dec 14, 2016

This month our daughter Jaime turns four years old. In several ways she follows in the footsteps of her older twin brothers but in many other ways, she is blazing a trail all of her own. To me, she can be summed up neatly with Shakespeare’s famous quote: “and though she be but little, she is fierce.”

While many of our children’s milestones are typical to those of others, there is one milestone that is unique to some ranch kids. A kids’ first solo horse ride is the milestone that gets me in the feels every time. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not quite prepared to have my kids take on such a big responsibility or if it’s their enthusiasm to do “grown-up work” that makes me a bit teary-eyed. Perhaps it’s actually my subconscious understanding that I will now have to catch, saddle, pack around, and unsaddle yet one more horse that makes me misty-eyed, but probably not, that’s a small price to pay.

We were on the second leg of trailing cows home the other day, when Jaime’s golden opportunity to ride came along. Up until then, Jaime and I had been travelling with the herd in the truck and trailer, stopping cows from going in the odd gate, but mostly staying warm, visiting, and eating all the snacks. My Other Half stopped us part of the way home and asked Jaime if she wanted to switch her brother out. I made a few feeble protests, including mentioning the fact that she didn’t pack ski pants (“she can wear her brothers,” my husband reasoned) and my concern that it was too cold and snowing too hard for a three-year-old to be out riding. Those excuses fell on many pairs of deaf ears, however. After some horse trading between her brothers, and a mutual agreement that left one of them graciously stepping off so she could take their place, Jaime scrambled up onto Betsy and rode away before I could say too much more. Not that anyone was listening to me anyway.

It was cold and it started snowing even harder, but Jaime didn’t notice. She followed the herd, grinning, and learned to ride down into the ditch to bring up the odd slow cow. She would sneakily hold her horse back a bit so she could trot just a little ways in order to catch up. Sometimes she would hang back so she could talk to me but more often than not, she would stay several yards ahead, and wasn’t too worried about looking back at her old ma. Her dad and grandpa were paying close attention to how she was doing and her brother, with his advanced age and experience, gave her plenty of instructions to follow too.

Almost three hours later, the cows arrived home, and only then could I pry her off her horse. But I couldn’t pry the smile off her face.

This isn’t exactly an earth-shattering admission, but raising kids is not easy. As a parent, I worry that we’re not hard enough on our kids, or maybe we’re being too hard on them. Maybe they shouldn’t log as many hours with us as they do on the baler, or at the corral, or hauling bales and perhaps we should give them more time to play and have fun and be a kid. But when I see them tackle some “jobs” and have so much fun while they’re at it, maybe I should learn a thing or two from them.

Regardless, this month will see our daughter celebrate another birthday and gain a bit more independence. And our ranch gains another willing cow hand, one that is made of sugar and spice, with a shot of perseverance and some grit for good measure.

dsc_0381-resized

Please like & share:

  • Enter your email address below to subscribe to 'A Little Bit Western' and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  •  

  •