I had the first turkey cooked and it was pretty well eaten all gone (as the kid’s say) by Wednesday night after the arrival from Denver of Amber, her husband Ryan, and kids; Riley and Lexi. It was the start of good times, good eating and good conversation.
My dad used to be the designated driver to take my mom and her sisters’, Betty, Bill and Nova to Oklahoma City or Tulsa for their shopping trips. He complained they never stopped talking the entire time. I still think we scare Ryan (Luke has had a little more time to get used to us all) but when my daughters and I get to squabbling over something, four kids under eight chime in, seven dogs get to barking and a scared, crazy cat runs by, you know you are home for the holidays. It got a little loud and more than little bit crazy, but it was all well-intentioned and fun.
Wednesday after we polished off all the turkey for lunch, we took the four kids out to ride. What an exciting time! Riley and Lexi really have no exposure to horses or rural life until they come to “Granny’s Farm” but it did not affect their enthusiasm for wanting to touch everything and every horse. I think they had mastered the names of all the horses (and ponies) by that first evening. We took turns in the arena walking with Lexi and Kendyll while Jordyn and Riley made laps around the rail on their own.
Everyone pitched in to help feed and little Lexi, who at three years of age is a hair smaller than Kendyll at two, had to be lifted up as she held securely to the feed bucket and then dumped the night’s offering into the horse’s bucket. I had gotten Lexi and Riley new cowboy boots for Christmas but they opened them early so they could wear them around the farm. Riley’s had his favorite color, orange on the tops and Lexi’s were decorated with pink roses and pink horseshoes. After all, you can’t hang out in Texas without your boots.
Son-in-law Ryan, got assigned to bring in Betty Sue. I have to say I think he was a little enamored with her. Ryan took her down to the arena after she ate and worked with her on her leading. At this point in a long but fun day, he was definitely the most competent person to work with her. He made her follow him and back and turn. After her arena exercises were complete, Betty Sue got to have her ‘run in the arena’ time. I warned Ryan to hide behind a jump. She looks so small and innocent but when she comes running down the long wall of the arena in a full gallop she is a bit intimidating as she slides to a stop right in front of you. I saw both Amber and Ryan pull out their phones to video a little Betty Sue magic as she made her way up and down. I had Ryan watch her change her leads precisely at the corner and we both marvelled over how pretty she was. She is butt-high again-measurements tonight (Dec. 1st) so we will see how much she has grown this month.
We finally went inside to settle in for the night.
Thanksgiving dawned cool but beautifully clear. Lexi insisted on wearing a ruffled little grey dress. Her mom wanted to her to change, but I helped her figure out some sweaters and headbands to keep her warm. She was eager to pose in her strange outfit.
The kids played as the day warmed up. Casseroles cooked in the oven and crock-pot. Luke was in charge of frying the turkey and it turned out perfectly. Luke’s parents, Blake and Libby joined us for Thanksgiving dinner and it was a grateful, appreciative group we formed around the table. It had been a hard year emotionally and physically for many of us, but we all were grateful to be together. Many times during long weekend I thought of my mom and Thanksgivings past.
After our dinner, Libby, Lauren and kids all rode. Luke, Ally and the kids stayed over and Friday found another gorgeous day ahead of us. By now, mowers had been fixed, fence boards re-hung and other tasks complete by the “boys”. Ally got the tractor going with the dump cart hooked up behind. The little kids, Lula and big kid, Lauren, all climbed in for rides around the farm.
Friday night found us at our favorite local restaurant, Stevan Pho’s. Both Lexi and Riley have nut allergies and Chef Stevan had cleaned out a special part of the restaurant to prepare their meal with no nut contamination. Steak, crab legs and teriyaki chicken were a nice change from all the turkey we had eaten.
We finished up the evening with s’mores over the fire pit at the farm. Mia and Wendy joined us as well. Wendy clearly had been holding out on us as she got on Snowboy bareback under the bright arena lights and trotted over some jumps. All we have heard from her is “I am afraid of horses”. I guess her days growing up on a West Virginia farm were still in her bones.
Our last day, Saturday, more wonderful Texas weather prevailed. I think we actually wore down Ryan over the four days with Houston weather on its best behavior. He vastly prefers Colorado over Texas (who doesn’t?) but there are some great times to be had in southern state. He enjoyed everything about the farm. He learned the horse’s names and figured out the chore rotation. I was a little shocked when in the arena on Saturday, I looked over to see him riding Kalina bareback. He insisted he had to a least get on a horse while he was here.
I wanted a Christmas card picture with the kids and had in mind exactly how it should look. My big quarter horse mare, Kalani was the go-to girl, when it came time for the grandkids to show their holiday spirit. I left to get some props and told the girls to dress their kids in jeans tucked into their boots. While the parents were a little skeptical, and I know I will hear about the lack of helmets, it was a magic moment aboard my wonderful Hancock mare as the kids rode together reminiscent of the de Leyer kids aboard Snowman over 50 years ago.
I am grateful, thankful and blessed. Hope you all had a great holiday too!
Leaving you with one of my favorite shots of the weekend—