On the way home from work, I pick kids up from school, listen to them bicker in the back seat and then take whatever it is they are fighting over away. I turn the music up and hope they will just start singing along and quit fighting. Sometimes it works. Most of the time it doesn’t. Getting home at 4 is a lot easier then my old work schedule; getting home closer to 6pm. I don’t feel as rushed and I still have time to mess around with the kids outside or do something with them inside before I have to start dinner. And, don’t kid yourself, sometimes we come home and plop on the couch and watch tv for an hour. No matter how the evening plays out, we really don’t need anymore excitement. These two yahoos give us all we can handle!
We don’t really have chores to do; not like when I was growing up. The kids aren’t old enough for 4-H just yet, so no lambs or pigs. And, my parents will tell you I didn’t do the chores anyway. We only have chickens and as much as I despise them, they are fairly easy to take care of. No horses to feed, water troughs to check, no goats, no calves, and no cows to feed. Well none that we own, anyway. Some nights I get a text from one of our “other” kids.
The kids enjoy having both the animals and the extra kids hanging around. Reagan enjoys the extra chores, especially when it is for someone else, and is learning a lot about what it looks like, and what it takes, to have animals and take good care of them. Early in the fall season, she had an amazing opportunity to ride one of the girls’ horses. It brought tears to my eyes watching her ride around the arena next to the girls. She aged to a young lady in a matter of minutes. She wants to be a cowgirl more than anything. And a ballerina. And a gymnast. Ok, she may not know what she wants to be when she grows up but why limit her, now!?
With all of that said, I’m sure some people are wondering why we invite college kids into our homes, too!? While they do provide just about as much entertainment as my kids, often more, that isn’t why. I can think of 3 great families that helped me a tremendous amount when I was off to college on my own. I’m sure there are more. I know there are more. But 3 that stick out. These families offered a roof over my horses heads or on some occasion a roof over my own head. They each fed me more often then they probably liked and I’m pretty sure I got furniture from them, too! They impacted me on a deeper level. Be it guidance with horses, with friends, with school… whatever it was, they each helped me along the way. These families range from northern Wyoming clear up to northwestern Montana. This isn’t counting the places I crashed while amateur rodeoing across the state of MT either. I could never recount everyone that helped me along the way. But, the important thing is this; I did not do it alone. That is what motivates me to help kids now.
Don’t get me wrong, we don’t give our pasture away for free. I don’t believe that helps them. But we don’t charge and arm and a leg, either. We feed when they can’t make it out. We shut the water off when they leave it on. We move hay and horses. We feed kids whenever we get the chance. It’s more about showing them kindness that, hopefully, someday, when life gives them the chance, they will pay forward. And, I’m not gonna lie. I love talking to each of them about the weekend. About the draw. About the competition. Because, let’s be honest. You never grow out of wanting to be a cowboy.