This is the kind of normal question that anyone might ask in any town anywhere. Except if you ask it here, the responder will look at you quizzically. Because honest Abraham of Civil War fame, we don’t have any public transportation in this town.
If you need to go somewhere, you have a choice.
You can walk. You can hop on your bike, assuming it isn’t the middle of winter with roads full of snow and ice and you’re still young enough to do it. You can saddle up your horse (or hitch up the buggy) … or jump in whatever vehicle you own.
That’s it. I’m told that way back before we were living anywhere, they used to have a bus. I would certainly not object to having a mini-bus so old folks — like me — could get into town without having a driver. So far, no go, but I live in hope.
No Uber. No Lyft. No taxi. Nothing unless you drive. There are train tracks, but the trains don’t stop here and anyway, they are all freight trains, not for passengers.
Most people don’t take their horses to town, but it has happened. It makes the horses nervous, though and carrying back the groceries can be a bit clumsy. So mostly, it’s feet, trucks, and cars. We’re about 3-1/2 miles out of the village and we are definitely past hoofing it.
Public transportation isn’t part of the rural lifestyle. At some point, the trains did stop here. I only know it because we have a converted train station that’s now a real estate office. But once upon a time, it was an actual passenger station.
I always wanted to go camping. All my friends went camping. My brother and sister went camping. I so envied them.
I stayed home. My mother felt camp was where you sent a child that needed “the experience” of “being away” from home (like my clingy sister), or who had a troubled home life (like my brother). Since I didn’t seem to need those experiences and always managed to find something to do, I didn’t need camping.
But I wanted to go. I wanted to swim and be out in the country. All through August, every kid was gone for weeks at a time. It was lonely.
Many years later, I tried to explain it to my mother and I think she finally understood that “camp” wasn’t where you sent psychologically deficient children, but a place for normal kids to have fun. Play games. Learn to swim.
She had never considered that.
I suppose it was a compliment, but if ever I experienced a truly back-handed compliment, that was it.
I sent Owen to camp because I didn’t go. Not only did I send him to camp, but I sent him to the camp to which I would have given an arm and both legs to go. It was a horseback riding camp. He didn’t like it. Too rough and tumble.
We always try to give our kids what we wanted and it almost never works the way we intended it. You just can’t win.
We try so hard and somehow, we manage to get it at least a little wrong. Maybe that’s the way parenthood is. You never stop learning. I still haven’t stopped learning. I don’t think I could stop if I tried.
As a child, I wanted freedom. The less adult interference in my life, the happier I was. The fewer parents around, the more I learned. If you gave me a heap of books and as many horses as I could wrap my legs around, I was in heaven.
That wasn’t what Owen wanted. By the time Kaity was growing up, I didn’t have the money to send her anywhere. And she was more like Owen insofar as she didn’t want to leave home and the idea of being with a bunch of kids she didn’t know was not appealing.
Lucky for her I didn’t have the money to send her anywhere!
Although most of the land around here is pretty poor for farming, there are some good areas, especially alongside the Blackstone and a few other areas. Also, this is THE area for apple orchards and we don’t do too badly with peaches and other pitted fruits.
Where there is room, we grow some of the most delicious corn anywhere. It’s called “butter and sugar” corn because it’s yellow and white and very sweet. This would normally be the season for it, but it’s been raining so much, I think it has slowed the growth. It will grow, but I think a lot of it will be late.
This used to be a big dairy area, too. We still have several local dairy farms. The cows like to lounge in the pastures. They don’t stand around. They loll on the grass, occasionally mooing at each other.
Which is pretty funny because if you moo back, you can have an entire conversation.
When it’s hot, they get herded to the other field on the opposite side of the road where, it’s shady. They have a small brook over there and like to wade in the water. In really hot weather, they stand there a lot of the day, up to their hocks in cool water. Not such
a bad life, as cow living goes. They are also friendly and like being petted. I think they are milked by hand.
You can buy milk and fresh eggs on the same farm. The milk is raw, unpasteurized. Not homogenized. If Garry wouldn’t drink the cream off the top — leaving just skim milk that nobody, not even the dogs, will drink — I’d buy more of it.
Minutes before the harvest
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Ben Taylor
Cowpath – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
In the barn, one kitten. Photo: Garry Armstrong
In the barn’s loft
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Chickens don’t get lost, but the foxes like to eat them, so now there are fences
It was the first thing that came into my head when I saw the word “wagon.” That’s right. Westerns! Wagon trains and buckboard wagons with teams of horses.
Wagon Train brought us Ward Bond, Robert Horton, and others. Randolph Scott was offered the role originally but turned it down. It worked out to be a good deal for Ward Bond and it got Robert Horton acting as well as singing.
My favorite individual theme was “Rawhide” as sung by The Blues Brothers with all the whips at the bar in the south. Remember? I tend to get Wagon Train and Rawhide confused. They were entirely different shows, but they “felt” very similar. Maybe it was the costumes.
I think the happiest day of our two trips to Arizona was the day we spent in Tombstone.
Here’s a little special something for all of us who watched and loved those Western shows. It’s funny that I can’t remember any of the plots or stories, but I can sing ALL of the songs!
I was a Western movie addict as was Garry. I loved the men, but really, I loved the horses and those old dusty towns. Mostly, though, the horses. I think if you just showed me an hour of horses, I’d have been a very happy camper. Wasn’t it amazing how the streets were not full of mud and horseshit? And after they drove the cattle through … who cleaned up that mess?
And finally, I found this little treasure on YouTube. I’m sure there’s more and some of these aren’t in very good condition … but if those were the days when Westerns were the name of the game … roll ’em out, head ’em in …
Garry got the best horse’s tails, but I got Duke’s tail and tongue. He has an amazing tail. Not a half bad tongue either.
I also had some great cow tails too, but my favorite didn’t work in black and white. He was so patchy, black and white, he literally blended with the foliage. You could see his tail, but his entire head got lost in the dappled foliage. So that particular cow didn’t make the cut.
Marilyn and Garry wrote a blog a while back about watching one of their favorite movies, “Rustler’s Rhapsody.” It’s also one of my favorite movies. They introduced it to me.
I’ve seen it dozens of times and I love introducing it to any friend who hasn’t seen it before.
It’s a very loving parody of all the great western movies of the 30’s and 40’s. An ode to the singing cowboy. The closing music over the credits is one of my all time favorite songs, “The Last Of The Silver Screen Cowboys”. I swear to God I tear up a little every time I hear it.
I was one of those little kids with the Roy Rogers cowboy hats and a pair of six-shooters.
Every day when I was four or five, I’d strap on my six guns, put on my hat and go out in the backyard and do my “patrol.” You’d be amazed by the number of bad guys and rustlers I ran off my property. When I’d come back home (my back porch), my Grandpa would have already left me my “lunch.”
A single Necco Wafer. We ran a lean ranch.
I listened to the song again after I read the post and it got me to thinking.
There’s a great line in the song that says “Roy, and Trigger, we loved you. And Hoppy we saved all our dimes. Saturday afternoon double features. And we sat through each movie two times.”
I’m tearing up again. They acknowledged Trigger, but what about the other great horses? Silver, Scout, Buttermilk, Topper, Buckshot, Wildfire, and of course, Champion, the Wonder Horse.
Think about it. The horses were really the smartest ones in the movies. Silver was always pulling the Lone Ranger out of the river after he falls off a cliff and is unconscious. Scout is always getting Tonto out-of-town at the last minute after the townsfolk finished beating the shit out of him because the Lone Ranger sent him to town to get some “information.”
I’ve often wondered what they thought about their riders, seeing them doing the same stupid things over and over again.
TRIGGER: Silver, Scout, hey guys! What’s up?
SILVER: Same ole, same ole. Just pulled the Ranger out of the river again before the bad guys found him. Fifth time I’ve had to do it this month.
TRIGGER: How’d he end up in the river this time?
SILVER: Same reason as always. Got his head grazed by a bullet, fell off a cliff, and knocked himself out. You’d think he’d learn.
SCOUT: Humans, very hard to train. Take my guy, Tonto. The Ranger is always sending him into town to get some “information.” And every time he does, the townsfolk beat the shit out of him, knock him out. I have to drag his ragged ass back to camp. You’d think by now he’d say “Fuck you Kemosabe, you go to town and get the shit beat out of you.” But no, not Tonto. A real type-B personality.
SILVER: What about your guy, Trigger? What does he do that annoys you?
TRIGGER: Not much really. I do get tired of having to rear up on my hind legs and whinny every time we leave to go somewhere. I mean, most of the time there’s nobody around to even see it. What’s the point?
SILVER: I hear that. My guy does that all the time. Drives me nuts.
SCOUT: Tonto tries to do that too. I just ignore him.
SILVER: So, Trigger, I got a question. I’ve always been curious. Is Roy, uh, how do I put it? Um, gay?
TRIGGER: What?! No!
SCOUT: Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
TRIGGER: Why would you think that?
SILVER: Well, I mean, come on. Look at how he dresses. He’s very stylish for a cowboy. And he’s into musical theater. He sings in every one of his movies. I’m just saying …
TRIGGER: What about your guy? He basically wears a unitard!
SILVER: Point taken.
SCOUT: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
TRIGGER: And what about Dale Evans?
SILVER: Could just be his beard. Ever seen them kiss?
TRIGGER: Well, no, but…
SILVER: The only one I’ve ever seen him kiss is you.
TRIGGER: Hey! I’m a confident heterosexual horse!
SILVER: So that means’ you’ve done it with Buttermilk?
SCOUT: Oh, I would so tap that filly. She’s hot. Get em up, Scout!
TRIGGER: Uh, well, not yet but ….
SILVER: Look, it’s all cool. There’s something else I’ve always wondered about. Why is it that all the people in the towns ride horses — except Pat Brady, who drives a broken-down World War II jeep? What the hell is that all about? What year is it, anyway?
SCOUT: And why do you make Bullet run alongside the jeep? I mean, we’re built to run 30 to 40 miles an hour. He’s just a German Shepard! Why not let him ride in the jeep?
I guess these are questions that will never get answered.
And for the record, I am not suggesting that Roy Rogers was gay. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
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