Veeder: The adventures of tiny ranch girls
There are 4 young girls between Jessie and her little sister at the moment, which means there are now, of course, two ponies on the ranch.
My little sister has been living in a new house on the ranch over the hill with her family for a year now. In the fall, her family welcomed a new little girl, Emma, who is now 8 months old. Her oldest daughter, Ada, is 3.
This means at any given moment, you could drive into the Veeder ranch and likely see a swarm of wild blond hair, glitter, flowing dresses, skinned knees, pretty chaos running down the scoria road squealing, with my sister and me trailing behind, occasionally hollering things like "Be careful!" or "Don’t push!" or "OK, OK, let the frog go now…"
Yeah. Right now, there are four girls between us — aged 4, 3, 2 and 8 months — roaming the barnyard. Which means in addition to six cats, four dogs and 10 horses, we also now have two little ponies.
Two ponies, named (you could probably guess it) Sparkles and Tootsie.
Along with the kittens, the backyard sprinkler and endless Popsicles, these ponies have been the center of our life at the ranch this summer. Every morning my little sister puts her roly-poly baby in her pack, grabs her 3-year-old and goes down to the barn to brush, pet, pamper and, of course, feed the ponies who could care less if there’s a little girl hanging on their necks, pulling on their tails or brushing their bellies, as long as they get treats.
And after supper, if the weather is right and they’re all behaving well enough to brave it, I call my sister and we meet them at the barn to saddle up the ponies and teach the girls to ride.
Veeder: On the other side of this In today's "Coming Home" column, Jessie reflects on the lessons she hopes we can learn during this time of social distancing and canceled events.
Veeder: It takes a village to heal They think they got all the cancer. They think, but we’re still waiting to hear for sure.
Veeder: The promise of spring That’s what keeps my head up, looking forward now as I head to Rochester, Minn., this week for a surgery that will hopefully rid me of a cancerous tumor once and for all.
Veeder: Dear daughters You don’t know what any of this means yet. You are too fresh to this world. That’s why I’m writing to you.
Veeder: Where we float There’s something about having access to a lake like this that makes a 16-year-old feel simultaneously invincible and terrified.
I could weave you a magical tale right now about the bonds between little girls and horses. I have plenty of firsthand experience falling in love with horses out here myself. And yes, there have been dozens of sweet moments captured between these little girls and these mini equines — but mostly it’s a firestorm of lesson upon lesson packed into a pink, noisy, explosion at the barn.
And it sounds a lot like: "OK, don’t scream around the horses remember? No, no running behind them… calm, remember? You’ve gotta stay calm… OK, OK, that’s enough grain. Woah, enough I said!"
"Edie, don’t drop the reigns. You have to hold onto them when you get off."
"Oh, you’re trotting! Good job, good… woah, woah, woah, you’ve gotta hang on!"
"Where’s Rosie? Rosie!? Oh Lord, is your head stuck in the gate? Wait there, what the heck girl? How in the world… Daddy! Rosie’s head’s stuck in the gate!"
"OK, it’s Ada’s turn! OK, it’s Rosie’s turn. OK, it’s Edie’s turn. Yeah, you have to take turns. Yeah, you can lead her… no she doesn’t want to run… girls, no screaming around the ponies."
"OK, no crying either. It’s OK..."
"Rosie! Rosie, don’t climb so high on the fence. Where’s Ada? Ada, enough splashing in the water tank… Edie, Edie, slow down now. Pull back and say 'woah!'"
And on and on like this until someone gets an owie or the adults and the ponies in the pen wear out. But the adventure doesn’t end there — anything can happen in that quarter of a mile back to our houses.
Last night? Well, it was a detour to inspect a grass snake followed by heroically freeing our dog, Remi, from my little sister’s sticky fly trap…
Yesterday, it was a ladybug and a handful of sunflowers…
And today? Well, in this magical place, with these girls running wild, anything is possible.
And my sister and I, well, we’ll be right behind them, yelling “Be careful!” and saving the frogs from their tiny dress pockets and purses.
ARCHIVE: Read more of Jessie Veeder's Coming Home columns
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at email@example.com.