Veeder: The best days can’t be planned?
In all the years my husband and I have spent growing up together, there’s one quality we continue to share and that’s our affinity for last-minute, spontaneous plans.
Especially if those plans mean blowing off yard work and fencing projects in favor of spending an 80-degree day at the sale barn watching horses come through the ring while we try to convince ourselves of all the reasons not to bid.
I’ve always loved the sale barn.
I’m not sure why a little girl would grow up loving a place like that, but it’s likely the same reason anyone loves any place, because of the memories that hang in the air.
As a kid I spent time in the fall sitting shotgun in dad’s pickup as we drove a load of calves up through the badlands to Dickinson where I would wait in the pickup, feeling the calves shake the trailer and pickup as they unloaded into the bright autumn sun or the wind of a chilly overcast day. I would watch the men in ear-flap caps push the animals to their pens and then lean against sorting sticks or the railing of the fence and visit a bit about prices, the weather and grown-up things.
And then we would head inside to the smell of black coffee and dirt and manure and the sound of the auctioneer spitting out numbers and weights and colors and “Hey!” “Ho!” “Yup!” and I would sit with it all swirling around me, watching white papers go up and down, terrified to scratch my nose in case they might mistake me for a bidder. And then, after hours of collecting sale barn dust in my nostrils, it was time for my favorite part of all – a cheeseburger at the counter in the cafe downstairs.
I sat with Edie at that counter last weekend trying to will her to eat some chicken nuggets while her dad was upstairs bidding on gentle horses to replace Stormy. It was a different vibe than those fall cattle sales – hot, muggy and of course, full of horses.
Cowboys would whip out rope tricks and tales of how the animal drags calves to the branding fire. Little kids would stand up on a pony’s saddle, flip off their backs and duck under their bellies, demonstrating the animal’s tolerance, reminding me of the few times I rode horses dad trained through the ring as a kid, showing how they handled, backed up and tolerated the swinging of my reigns.
Was I really ever that kid? I wondered to myself as I watched my daughter lean against her dad’s lap the same way I used to, yelling “Hey!” at the auctioneer while I held my breath as my husband took a pretty dun gelding up to our budget.
“SOLD!’ said the auctioneer as he pointed at the family who woke up this morning on the other side of the badlands with plans to fix fence and fold laundry, proving to themselves yet again that the best days can’t be planned.
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughter on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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