Garrett’s spring break was a busy and exciting week. It was a break from school, for sure, but definitely not a break from ranch life.
The local school incorporated a spring break into this year’s calendar. In the past it had only consisted of a couple days surrounding Easter, but in 2022 it was a full week with no classes.
The way the dates ended up falling, Spring Break started a few days earlier than the original schedule had planned. The South Shelby Varsity Girls Basketball team made it to the Missouri State Final Four and then the Finals, so school wasn’t in session during those tournament games. So instead of waiting until the following Monday to start the break, Wednesday was the last day of classes for the school district.
Garrett’s days are always productive, and normally start between 6:30-7:00am, with responsibilities like the chickens: water, feed and gather the eggs and other small things around the house like taking out the scraps or putting away his clothes. Hauling hay and feed upon his fathers request is a normal occurrence too, but during “Spring Opportunity” Garrett did so much more than what was asked of him. Take a look:
Garrett was greeted on his first day of “Spring” break with snow flurries. Despite the cold, blowing weather, he saddled up Cherry, his 3 year old sorrel AQHA gelding. They headed to the North farm to check the cow herd, consisting of many mama cows ready to calve any day. He found one new baby calf, observed that it was doing just fine and headed back home. By mid-late morning, Grandpa Bob and Grandma Linda came over to prepare for a road trip to Washington, MO. The snow had subsided and Garrett, along with his grandparents, climbed into the seats and buckled up- his mom was driving the truck and trailer! They set off for the 2-3 hour trip, stopping for fuel and lunch. They passed much of the time by listening to the girls’ basketball game on the radio. And they won! Despite a missed turn, a wrong turn and traveling on lots of narrow, curving roads, the group arrived at the destination at the horse farm outside of Washington. Garrett checked out the potential purchase. The horse seemed great; small size and cute, gentle and obedient. He and his mom made the deal with the seller standing outside the truck, enjoying the sunny, 50+ degree weather. The new horse, Hank, an 2019 AQHA dun gelding, loaded fine. It was so warm, they didn’t worry about blanketing the horse in the half-top trailer. With their shades and seatbelts on the group headed north for home around 4:00pm. The trip home seemed to be going quicker, now that the navigation had been addressed. As they approached the half way mark, they noticed the temperature dropping to near freezing, so before it got dark (and colder) Garrett went back and put the blanket on Hank. He did great and Garrett was still very satisfied with the new buy. And then the snow started… The last leg of the trip that should have taken an hour, now took almost two. But they made it home and Hank was safely unloaded and stalled in the warm, dry barn for the night.
Today, Garrett woke up to a blanket of white out his window. The snow had accumulated to about 5 inches over night. He headed out to the barn to check on Hank and take care of his chickens and dog. While out, he cleaned out Hank’s hooves and then hobbled him. While working with him in the arena, he heard a cow ball. He went around the barn to the outside arena and found a heifer with a new calf that was still wet and confused. He called in the house to his mom. She got the towels and blankets ready while Garrett carried the calf into the barn. After the calf was in the tack room, they dried it with towels and a blow dryer. After the calf was reunited with his mother, he still didn’t suck, so they got the heifer in the chute, milked her and then gave the calf a bottle. After he’d warmed up, outside and now inside, he had more energy and they left him to fend for himself with the cow. After a quick lunch, it was time to pack for an overnight stay at a friend’s house. Garrett and his buddy rode 4 wheelers, played games and hung out and relaxed.
Garrett arrived back home around 3pm on Saturday afternoon. Most of the snow had melted away by now. He helped his dad dig holes and install two new posts for a partition in the barn. They also fed hay to the cows and horses. While out, they were unable to account for all of the cows on the North farm. Later, while his parents went out to eat and grocery shopping, Garrett rode Cherry through the pasture looking for the missing cows. He found them both, along with 2 new calves. After he got back to the barn and eventually into the house, he prepared his deer loin that had thawed during the day. He cut off the silver fat and added the meet to his marinade for the night.
After the time change, it felt like Garrett was waking up an hour earlier today, despite what the clock said. He was still out early with his dad to feed, turn out horses, and then meet with a buyer for the heifer pairs- all before church. They headed into town for church and then to Grandma Connie’s for lunch. The afternoon was filled with riding and cattle work. Cherry worked great while Garrett, along with his dad, mom and brother moved the fall cows to the South farm and brought the weaned fall calves up to the barn. They ran the calves through the chute and wormed them and dehorned any that needed it. His uncle and cousin joined the afternoon riding and the entire group went to the North farm to rope and tag the baby calves. Once back to the barn, they unsaddled and started working on the partition. With the posts already up, it was time to add the front boards, braces and a step in the back. They got it built and retired to the house to eat the deer meet, that was prepared earlier by Garrett, and cooked in the crockpot all day.
Technically Monday morning, Garrett had the 12:30am shift for checking a heifer that was close to calving. He found the heifer in the barn with a new calf, both mom and baby were doing well, so he headed back to bed. In the morning Grandpa Bob and Grandma Linda stopped in for a quick visit and dropped off their dog for Garrett to watch while they went out of town. This meant feeding and watering “Sky” and also finding time to let her out of the kennel for some play time. After getting the dog situated, he rode Cherry to check the cows and then saddled Hank for the first time. Much of the afternoon was spent in the woods working on deer stands. Once his dad got home from work and his brother home from taking a horse to the vet in Iowa, they, along with his mom set out to rope and tag any new calves. This time, Garrett used Del, a 4 year old AQHA bay gelding. While his dad and brother hauled hay, Garrett helped his mom in the kitchen and on the grill with the steaks for supper. Despite the fiery inferno the grill caused last time they fixed steaks, Garrett’s help resulted in well cooked steaks and all of the fixings.
Garrett set his alarm a bit earlier on Tuesday because he didn’t want to be late for the biscuits and gravy breakfast promised by his Grandma Connie. With a full stomach and his horse Cherry, Garrett went to check the North farm for new calves. He found 1 new calf and also saw a coyote. Back at home, he visited with Grandad and his great uncle, Sam. He went into town with them to run some errands in Shelbina. He spent even more time with Grandad fishing during the afternoon. The evening took a turn for the worse, when the guys found a first calf heifer struggling to have her calf. They drove her home with their horses, but were not in time to save the calf- it was already dead once they got it pulled.
Up with the sun, Garrett changed it up a bit and rode Del to check the cows. But riding him would be too easy, so he ponied Hank. He didn’t find any new calves but noticed a couple looking very close. Mid-morning was spent with Grandad cleaning up some construction scraps at Aunt Myrna’s. But just like they say- one man’s trash, another man’s treasure. Well Garrett brought home a load and started brainstorming. In the afternoon, Garrett and Crayton took Grandad for Ranger ride to check the cows again. Sure enough, one of the close cows from the morning rounds, had now had a calf and it was down in a deep ditch. Crayton saved the day with his strength and long reach. They got the calf out and reunited with his mama. The weather was beautiful, with the temperature reaching the lower 70’s. Garrett gave Hank a bath. He seemed to like it. Along with the other projects of the day, he was able to get the chicken house cleaned out and the manure added to his mom’s garden spot.
One week into break and Garrett was sticking to his routine of riding a horse in the morning to check for new calves. Cherry is getting plenty of miles and lots of roping experience. Crayton went with him today and just the two of them caught two calves and tagged them. For a spring break treat, Laura brought the boys Subway for lunch. Garrett spent the afternoon turning that load of “treasure”, mentioned on Wednesday, into a deer stand. After Casey got home from work, the whole family went out to tag the four new calves that had been born during the day. They also sorted and drove a group of bred heifers closer to home. This would make it easier to assist them if they have any trouble calving. Del was Garrett’s pick for this riding and roping session.
After 7 days of “opportunity” like that, Garrett rounded out his time off school with more horse riding and training, spending time with his family, finishing up some projects like painting his newly built deer stand, and even some time watching TV and relaxing.
As his mom, I am so proud of Garrett. He has so much talent, such a strong work ethic and a ton of creativity packed in that 13 year old mind and body. He didn’t ask to be featured in this post, but I wanted to document it for him. Looking back, it will be fun to have a record of all he could accomplish at such a young age in such a short time.