horse

As we head into Spring, the Farmers start planning for the spring planting. In man’s early years, that meant finding a stick to poke a hole in the ground so the seeds could be placed in the hole and covered. While that may have been fine for the small one-family garden, it was ineffective for the large farms we have today. Supplying many people with food, like today’s farmers do, means that plowing and planting has to be more streamlined.

Watching shows like Little House on the Prairie, and others that took in a planting period, most of us have seen the hand plow used by farmers in the Old West. It was hooked up to a horse, and the farmer had to not only follow behind the horse, being careful to keep up, but also to force the blade of the plow into the dirt to turn it over. The plow worked, but it was very labor intensive…and in the heat of the day, a man could get heat stroke plowing his field…literally!!

The wheeled plow, which was drawn by oxen at first, but later by horses, made possible the northward spread of European agriculture. Finally, the farmer could sit and let the horse and machine do the work. It was still hot in the mid-day sun, but the work wasn’t so labor intensive. The 18th-century addition of the moldboard, which turned the furrow slice cut by the plowshare, was an important advance. The black hard-packed soil in the American Midwest in the mid-19th century challenged the strength of the existing plow. That was when American mechanic John Deere invented the all-steel one-piece share and moldboard. The three-wheel sulky plow followed and finally, with the introduction of the gasoline engine the tractor-drawn plow. Further improvements followed until we had the advanced farming equipment we have today. The plow has come a long way, and the work of a farmer has become a little easier, but it is still hard work, and without the farmers we would have serious food shortages. Thank you to all our farmers!! Don’t forget to thank a farmer today.

My grand niece, Reagan Parmely is the oldest of the three children of her parents, Ashley and Eric Parmely. Being the oldest, Reagan feels the need to be the mother’s helper, and so she is very motherly to her siblings. That’s not to say that the children never fight, although Bowen is to little to fight much. Nevertheless, Reagan and Hattie ire very good friends too. Reagan has a wonderful imagination, and she is able to figure out ways to entertain her little sister. Of course, on a farm, there are lots of games kids can play. Kids usually mimic the activities of their parents, and Reagan is no different. She and Hattie pretended to be milking the goats one day, using Hattie as the goat. Of course, I’m sure Hattie got her turn to be the milking maid too, because Reagan is pretty fair about things. Reagan loves to take her little sister for rides in her car too…yes, I said car. Reagan and Hattie have an electric car and they drive it around the property often. They are pretty careful, but they are always under the watchful eyes of their parents.

Reagan loves helping out on the farm too. Recently when her parents were moving the hay they bought into stacks, Reagan was right there, helping as much as she could, and hoping it was helpful even if she couldn’t do much. Reagan has been such a blessing to her parents, and her siblings too. Whenever I see her, I just love to hear her tell about hat is going on in her life. She tells stories about her day at school, and all that she is learning there. She is a smart little girl, and learns very quickly, but I think the thing I like the most is her wide eyed wonder about the world around her and her joy of learning. Reagan recently got a horse of her own, and she is proving just how much she is her mother’s daughter. She absolutely loves her horse. She rides as often as she can. She is getting quite good at it, and of course, her horse loves her too, so they make a good team.

Every birthday Reagan’s Oma, Jennifer Parmely bakes the family a cake with anything they wanton it. Reagan has decided to have dinosaurs on her cake, so it will have Dino sprinkles on it. I think it’s going to be a wonderful birthday. Today is Reagan’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Everyone knows that President Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, as the Civil War was drawing to a close, but what you may not know is that this was not the first attempt on Abraham Lincoln’s life. The first attempt came one August night in 1864, just under a year before the successful attempt by John Wilkes Booth. It is unknown who the would-be assassin was in that earlier attempt, just that they very nearly succeeded.

President Lincoln and his family often stayed at the Soldiers’ Home during the summer months due to the unbearable heat at the White House. President Lincoln often made the 4 mile trip from the White House to the Soldiers’ Home alone, and often late at night, an unheard of situation these days, with the secret service officers always shadowing the presidents, vice-presidents, and their families. As Lincoln was riding along that night, a shot rang out. Private John W Nichols, who was stationed at the Soldiers’ Home, rushed to the aid of the president, whom he found well, but missing his hat. President Lincoln told the private that the horse jerked upon hearing the gunshot, and his hat went flying. The private went to retrieve the hat for the president, and went he examined it, he found that it now had a bullet hole in it. It was an extremely close call, but President Lincoln requested that the matter be kept quiet, and Private Nichols didn’t tell the story until 1867. His tall hat had saved his life by causing the would be assassin to aim too high to hit his head.

For America, this missed shot changed history. Had Lincoln been killed on that August night…even just that much earlier would have had devastating consequences for America. Hannibal Hamlin would have become a lame duck president. Hamlin was already off the Union ticket for vice president, having been replaced by Andrew Johnson. Hamlin would have faced strong opposition, because at the time, the Radical Democracy Party…an offshoot of the Republicans…and their nominee, John Fremont, had not yet dropped from the race. The Radical Democracy Party were even more strongly opposed to slavery than Lincoln, which is what led to their formation. Had the assassin aimed a bit lower in 1864, the election in November would likely have pitted Hamlin against Fremont and McClellan, the Democratic nominee, with Johnson perhaps running on the Union ticket.

Presidential elections always rest on who can win in an election, and in this case the winner would have turned 1864 America into a mess. Had the earlier would-be assassin’s shot been just a little lower, Lincoln, would have been succeeded by Hannibal Hamlin which may have given the upcoming election to Lincoln’s overly cautious former commander, General George McClellan. How either Hamlin, had he actually won re-election, or McClellan would have carried on the last year of the war, much less dealt with southern reconstruction, is a source for debate. Lincoln’s death, if combined with a lame-duck Hamlin and a conciliatory McClellan, might have encouraged the South to hold on just a while longer and resulted in an armistice rather than a victory, dramatically changing the history of America. I don’t think that anyone but Lincoln could have freed the slaves at that time.

donkey-on-trialImagine charging a horse with murder, reckless endangerment, or vandalism for things like bucking its rider off, causing death or injury, or kicking the neighbors fence down. Insane, right…wrong!! For centuries, animals, including insects faced criminal charges across many parts of Europe. Now, I personally think that most insects need to be executed…no trial necessary!! The earliest documented case was a pig, who after being found guilty, was executed at Fontenay-aux-Roses in 1266. At that time it was believed that animals knew right from wrong, like humans do. I don’t think they were far off, because animals do seem to know when they have done something wrong, but I’m not sure that they understand guilt over of an accidental death or injury.
animal-execution
Nevertheless, these trials went on as part of several legal systems until the 18th century. Animal defendants appeared before both church and secular courts, and the charges ranged from murder to criminal damage. Human witnesses were often heard and in Ecclesiastical courts the animals were routinely provided with lawyers. If convicted, the animal was usually executed or exiled. Several books were written about these trials. E.P. Evans’ The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, published in 1906, and Sadakat Kadri’s The Trial: Four Thousand Years of Courtroom Drama were two such books. Kadri shows that the trials were part of a broader phenomenon that saw corpses and inanimate objects also face prosecution…which takes weird to a completely new level. Some people think that modern day punishment of children and the mentally ill is rather an echo of those strange earlier rituals.
pig-trial
Several thoughts have come to my mind concerning these animal trials. For instance, animals can’t talk, so how were they supposed to testify or speak in their own defense? Also, were these trials held in a courtroom or a stable…for obvious reasons? And, if the offending animal belonged to someone, not the person who was the victim, how were they compensated for the loss of their animal? After all, they didn’t commit the “crime” that their animal was accused of. This is such a strange practice, that I have to wonder who came up with the idea originally anyway, and were they sane…or more likely insane.

Amanda Kay ReedMy niece, Amanda Reed and her family love to spend time at the lake, where they keep a mobile home so they can have a place to stay when they are there. They love the summer, the lake, and all the activities they do there. Of course, that means weekends at the lake and weekdays on the job, which for Amanda means a local bank. It is a job she has had for some time, and that she enjoys. Nevertheless, like everyone else, the days off are what we all work for. A job is great, but your life happens during the time you have with your family, and for Amanda that is Sean Mortensen, and their daughter, Jaydn.

A short time back, Amanda had a bit of a scare concerning Jaydn, when she was Sean, Jayden, & Amandabucked off of her horse. It isn’t the first time Jaydn has been bucked off, but during this particular incident, the horse stepped back and onto Jaydn’s elbow. It was not broken, and she was fine except for a few bumps and bruises, but for any mother, an incident like that is heart wrenching. Your mind has such a hard time not dwelling on that picture of what could have happened. Kids, of course, think they are invincible, so Jaydn was good with getting back in the saddle pretty quickly.

In November, Amanda and Sean decided to buy a house on a really nice corner lot in Rawlins. Since then, they have been working to settle in and make this house their own. There is just something special about buying a New Housenew house that changes everything…especially your perspective. This house is very nice and big too, which is always a plus. I’m sure Amanda has everything in ship shape already, and the family is ready for the summer to come. There is a big garage in back for Sean too, so I expect that he will be out there tinkering around a lot. All in all life is good for Amanda and her little family. She is doing what she loves, has the family she wants, and a beautiful home. So, you ask, what more could she want? Well, like me, she could as for summer and it’s nice weather to hurry up and get here, because like me, Amanda is a summer girl, and would like it just fine if it was summer all year long. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Corrie and Kevin Petersen Wedding Day July 17, 1993Every year I find myself surprised at how many years my kids have been married. This year is my daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin Petersen’s 21st wedding anniversary. Twenty one years…how can that be!! Of course, they have been together for 24 years now, and that is even more surprising to me. They should both still be kids…not have kids who are adults or almost adults. How could time have passed so quickly? No matter why or how, they have arrived at that 21st anniversary, and because they did, Bob and I have been incredibly blessed. They gave us two wonderful grandsons, Chris and Josh, and so many other blessings, as they have given of themselves whenever we needed something. They have proven to be a wonderful couple who have given of themselves to make life wonderful for those around them.

When kids are teenagers, you have no idea who they will become. They are so emotional that you wonder if they will live long enough to become adults…or if you will live through those teenage years, but then…suddenly, as quickly as they became teenagers, they become adults, and you are left to wonder where all those years went. We could not have asked for better adults than Corrie and Kevin have become. I love their ways of teamwork and fellowship. They are so connected to each other. Theirs is a love for all time. They are soul mates, and that is how it should be.

Every parent hope that the marriage of their child will last, and we are no exception. When your daughter gets married, you almost hate to let her go. You pray that this man will treat your princess with the love and respect that you know she deserves. Kevin was that knight in shining armor that Corrie was looking for. He may not have had a horse, but he drove cars with plenty of horsepower!! Thankfully for her momma, Kevin was not the show off kind, and he felt no need to race around, he just liked those nice cars…still does, by the way. But more The Petersensimportant than his cars, is his family.

Kevin became a “sold out” family man on February 28, 1996, and he has never gone back. He and Corrie are all about their family. Whatever their boys are doing…is what they want to be doing or watching. Whether it is sports, cooking, fishing, camping, games, or just hanging out…that’s what they do. Theirs has been a wonderful journey, and one they are happy they took together, and I’m so happy that they’re happy, because really that is what it’s all about. Happy 21st Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! You have made our lives rich with your kind ways. Have a lovely day!! We love you!!

Bertha & Elsa SchumacherIt would be hard for most of us to imagine a world where we got to go to town only once a year, and yet that was the way of things back when my Great Aunt Bertie Schumacher was a little girl. The Schumacher family moved from Minnesota to a place 8 miles from Lisbon, North Dakota, and the school house was 3 miles from where they lived.  Bob and I, in our many evening walks have walked 8 miles at a time, but not in the winter, and since that walk takes us 2 hours, I can’t say that it would be feasible as a way to go to town for groceries, because then there is that walk back loaded down with groceries. Just the thought of 4 hours of walking in  the winter cold is enough to make me cringe.

Nevertheless, the children needed to be in school, so Great Grandpa Carl Schumacher got up early every morning, to get the horses out and break a trail, then hook up to the sleigh for the 3 mile drive in to the school with his older children, Anna (my grandmother), Albert, and Mina. Aunt Bertie remarks in her journal, that she and Elsa were very glad that they could stay home with their mother. The sleigh was nothing like the more romantic New England cutters we all think about, but was rather a grain wagon box placed on two heavy runners pulled by their sturdiest horses because of all the deep snow the area got. Great Grandma Henriette would bring the older 3 children out to the wagon, and place bricks she had heated by their feet. Then she would wrap them in blankets that even covered their faces to protect them from the bitter cold. In all the time the children went to that school, they were there everyday, unless they were sick. It was by far the best attendance record in the school, and the Schumacher family lived the furthest away from the school. When Aunt Bertie went to school, a place she was not very fond of, she had to force herself to do what she needed to. It was at this time that she met the only teacher that would remain in her memory for the rest of her life. She was beautiful, and well dressed, but it was her graciousness and her love for children that made her the best teacher little Bertie would ever have.

Not long after Bertie started school, the family moved closer to Lisbon, and the school was only a mile away, and much to Bertie’s delight, it had an indoor bathroom. No more running outside to the outhouse in the middle of a freezing cold day and then running back inside in Bertha & Elsa Schumacher a little olderthe cold again. Bertie felt like she was attending school in a palace, I’m sure. One day, when her mother had to drive the long distance into town on a very cold winter day, she decided to leave little 4 year old Elsa at the school with Bertie and their brother, Fred for the day. Elsa had never been away from her mother before, and they were very close, so she proceeded to cry. The older children could not console her, and finally a teacher came and took Elsa under her wing, calming her and allowing her and her siblings the peace of knowing that everything was going to be alright. Bertie recalls how it is funny that the memories that really stay in your memory are the ones where someone showed such love and kindness that the memory of it lingered on for years to come. What a lovely way to be remembered. That is something I think I should like to be remembered as. Loving and kind enough that the memory of my acts of kindness and love stay in the memories of those whose lives I might have touched.

Ruth on a horseAnytime you read through a well written family history book, you are bound to find things out about your family members that you never knew…even if you knew them all your life. The big thing is, I guess, that sometimes when things are in the past, they are viewed as ancient history. We all do things when we are young that we don’t continue into adulthood. I knew many things about my Aunt Ruth through the years. She loved animals, gardening, and the mountains of Washington. She was an artist both in paintings and music. She painted a picture of herself that I would have thought was painted by a professional artist…along with other paintings. She could play any instrument that she picked up, as if she had been playing it all her life. She knew things about the weather that surprised me as a child…like the time they were at our house. Aunt Ruth suddenly jumped up and looked out the window. She said there is a tornado somewhere. I thought she saw something, but it was the way the wind suddenly stopped where we were that caused her to think that. I heard later that a small twister was reported on Casper Mountain. I never forgot that she had somehow known.

As I said, I knew Aunt Ruth loved animals, and I had seen pictures of her with several horses. I could tell that she was a pretty good horsewoman. I never had very much to do with horses, so seeing her seated firmly on her horse as he reared up, struck me as an amazing feat. And I knew that the family owned horses, and all the kids, my Aunt Laura, my Uncle Bill, my dad, and Aunt Ruth, road regularly, but never was there any mention of racing except in what I read today. Uncle Bill was describing the scene of one of the pictures he had put in the book, and he said that the horse was Aunt Ruth’s race horse, which she did ride in some races. He doesn’t specify how she did in the races she ran, but if it is like pretty much anything else Aunt Ruth and her race horseAunt Ruth did, she was probably pretty good at it.

I had to wonder why I had never heard about her racing before, and if I was the only one in the family who didn’t know about it? Why was it that Aunt Ruth never talked about racing? I also wondered if it was something that she thought about doing professionally as a young girl, or if it was always just something she did to pass the time and to test her horse. If no one else in the family knew about her racing either, I suppose that it is something that will drift into the unknown past…except for that one little mention of it in Uncle Bill’s family history books.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a mind thief, and when your loved one has been diagnosed with it, you find yourself thinking often of all that they have lost. You have to remind yourself to look at what they still have, which is hard sometimes. My mother-in-law is really a shell of what she used to be, and even though she seems happy with her life, I remember the things she used to do, such as knitting, crocheting, sewing, cake decorating, canning, baking, and raising her family. In her lifetime she made many people happy with the various things she made, and it is sad to think that she won’t be making those things anymore, even though she thinks she still does.

One thing that I have had to look back on, even though she will never do that again either, is her horses. My mother-in-law would have lived on a horse if she could have figured out a way. If she could have figured out a way to never get off, she would have done it. She owned horses with names like Molly and her colt Pie Face, Danny, and Twinkles. I don’t know who named the horses, but my guess is that it was her. There are a number of pictures of her with and on horses. And of course, her favorite shows are Westerns. I’m quite sure she can picture herself on the horses they are riding, galloping across the prairie. I don’t think she ever liked driving a car much, and she only did it when she absolutely had to, but a horse, she would had taken everywhere, if only she could have.

I agree with the research I have done concerning Alzheimer’s patients, in the you need to forget what they can no longer do, and focus on what they can, but I also think that sometimes it helps in their care, to remember what they used to be, because in so many ways, they think they still are that person from the past and they still do the things they used to do. They don’t know that they no longer do those things. I wish she could still be that person from the past, but since she can’t, I’ll just remind her of the days when she was a horsewoman…and a very good one.

Having grown up in town, I didn’t spend much time around horses. I had a friend that lived out in the country, and rode a little when I went to her house, but I didn’t meet her until junior high, so I didn’t ride often, even though I found myself enjoying it when I did. My girls got to ride when we went to visit Bob’s grandmother in Montana, but that was just once a year, so they were no more experienced than I was. We were what would have to be like tourist horseback riders. I have been looking at some really old family pictures, and I have come to the determination that our kind of riding would have been unacceptable in the days of the Old West.

When Bob was growing up, they spent more time around horses than we did, and so had the opportunity to ride more than I did. Still, of he rode when he was very little, he always had someone older on the horse with him. Most of the time you would see Bob with his sisters, Marlyce and Debbie. It was a way to make sure he didn’t fall off, because he would have probably tried to make the horse gallop or buck, if I know him.

Apparently however, just a few short generations back, children were expected to be born with horse riding expertise, because I found this picture of Lester, my first cousin once removed on my Grandpa Byer’s side, and he was pretty little when he first was placed on a horse. Lester was born in 1920, and while I’m sure that he didn’t do much riding in this picture, it did strike me as amusing that here he was being a grown up big boy and sitting on his horse all by himself. I’ll bet that by the time he was 5 years old or so, he was a pretty accomplished horseman too, since he had such an early start. Even if he wasn’t an expert, my guess is that he certainly was not a tourist horseman…like me.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Check these out!