This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Dreams Don't Grow on Trees
"Haden, we'll be home sometime between four and five," Rita called to say on the drive back home. "We'll stop and pick up pizzas for dinner."
"No, don't do that," Haden quickly responded. "We've already started preparations for dinner."
Needless to say, Rita and Darrell were surprised to see that a cookout had been planned. Perry, Lacey, and Dustin were also free to join in.
"Wade, I didn't expect to see you here," Rita remarked, when she saw him with Jared.
"I got to come and stay a few days," Wade said. "And Jared and me got to stay with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa even took us for a buggy ride."
Adam excitedly told all about the vacation. When he paused for a breath, Justin picked up telling the events where Adam left off. "We had so much fun," Justin finished.
"Did you thank Darrell and Rita for taking you?" Betty asked.
"Yes, he did," Rita said. "We enjoyed having him along."
Although Dustin was too young to understand the gifts, Adam was pleased to give him his feeding set; and from Justin, Dustin got a Mickey Mouse shirt and bib. The parents loved the gifts for themselves and their son.
"Thank you for the coffee mug," Haden said, when Adam gave him the gift. "I love it."
"Mine's nicer," Amy said.
"They're the same," Adam said.
"No, mine's nicer," Amy said with a chuckle.
During the meal, Paul purposely sat across from Rita and Darrell. "So, when are you planning on leaving for North Dakota?" He asked.
"In the morning," Darrell said. "It's a long drive up there."
"I'm flying to Nebraska," Paul said. "I can fly you on to North Dakota."
"Thanks for the offer, but we plan to tour the area and we'll need transportation, then there's the trip back home," Darrell explained.
"Haden talked to George, and he's willing to let you use his car since he has a company pickup," Paul countered.
"We'd still need to get back home," Darrell argued.
"I can fly up there to bring you home."
"I can't let you do that."
"Sure you can, and if it makes you feel better, just pay for the fuel. I'll just plan my second business trip to Nebraska for the time you're returning home. You'd only be paying for the fuel from Nebraska to North Dakota."
"Honey, remember we were taking the boys to see the Budweiser Clydesdales in Saint Louis," Rita said.
"As I mentioned to Amy and Haden, I'd love to see them myself," Paul said. "We could leave early Friday morning, stop in Saint Louis, then fly on to North Dakota."
"What do you think, Rita?" Darrell asked.
"I think we should take Paul up on his kind offer," Rita said. "I was dreading that long drive."
"Alright," Darrell agreed. "It would give us an extra day to rest up."
"And I'll have time to catch up on the laundry," Rita pointed out.
"Mom, Heidi will be here tomorrow to do the laundry and clean," Amy said.
"I forgot about that," Rita said, I've lost the track of time. Darrell, I've been thinking, maybe it's time we gave Heidi a raise."
"I hadn't thought about it, but you're probably right," Darrell agreed. "What do you think, maybe $25.00 more a week?"
"I was thinking $10.00 more a week, but $25.00 would probably be better," Rita approved. "She's wonderful, and I'd hate to lose her."
The boys were excited about another flight in Paul's jet. Rita and Darrell decided to surprise them with the Saint Louis stop off. "We'll have time to see the Clydesdales and have lunch in Saint Louis," Paul had said.
Haden volunteered to watch Jared and Wade while Kyle was at football practice. He had two-a-day, twice a week; and one-a-day the other two with Mondays off. Wade had two more days with Jared, and both boys were excited, since Haden promised they could go swimming.
"Kyle, would you and Haden take us horseback riding?" Jared asked, when he, Kyle, and Wade came to have breakfast with Haden, Amy, and Tony.
"We'd better ask Uncle Carl and Aunt Julie if Wade can ride with us first," Haden mentioned.
"They won't care," Wade proclaimed.
"Good, then it shouldn't be a problem when I call," Haden said.
"You don't need to call," Wade said. "I know they won't care."
"We still need permission," Haden said. "Amy, do you know Aunt Julie's office number?"
"She won't be on campus until next week since her summer classes are over," Amy said. "Call her at home."
"She'll call anytime now," Kyle said. "She calls every morning to check on Wade."
"What horse could Wade ride?" Jared asked, after Julie gave permission for Wade to go riding.
"Adam wouldn't mind if he rode Dusty," Haden said. "Do you know how to ride?"
"I rode Grandpa's mule," Wade said. "Does that count?"
"That counts," Haden said with a laugh, as he ruffled Wade's hair.
"Adam said you do that to him all the time," Wade proudly said.
"What're you doing?" Jared asked when Haden began making sandwiches and placing them in a lunch bag with an ice pack.
"I thought we could have a little picnic on our ride," Haden said.
"Maybe we could take some apples and peanut butter too," Kyle suggested.
"What do we drink?" Wade asked.
"We always have juice boxes," Haden said.
After adjusting the stirrups on Adam's saddle to fit Wade, the guys began their ride. Wade immediately rode like a pro. Haden wanted to show Wade the camp area and enjoy their picnic lunch there.
"This is where we rode the horses to camp out," Haden explained.
"Man, that would be fun," Wade said.
"Yeah, I want to do that too," Jared agreed.
"Maybe we should plan something before school starts," Kyle said.
"Maybe we could borrow a horse and saddle from Jeff for Wade," Haden suggested. "We probably should invite Ethan too. I'm sure there'll be a horse available for him."
"We could come Labor Day Weekend," Kyle suggested.
"I thought that was the first football game."
"It is, but it's an away game, and I'm not on the travel squad."
"Then let's plan on it."
"Is that Ray's truck?" Kyle asked when they arrived at the camp area.
"Yeah, it looks like he's putting up a portable corral," Haden observed.
"Hey, what're you cowboys up to?" Ray asked, when the riders arrived.
"We're just out for a ride," Haden said. "I'm glad we saw you. We were talking about riding out here and camping out Labor Day Weekend, and we wanted to know if it's okay."
"Now, Haden, you know you don't need permission, as long as you pick up after yourselves," Ray said.
"What's that?" Wade asked, as he pointed toward the corral.
"That's a corral," Ray explained. "I'm going round up the cattle and separate the cows from the calves."
"Why are you doing that?" Jared asked.
"When the calves get big enough to be on their own, we wean them from the cows," Ray patiently explained. "You see, the cows will be mothers again early next year."
"Do you need help?" Haden asked.
"I could use some help driving them into the corral," Ray admitted. "I bet that's something Adam would enjoy."
"Yeah, he would. It's a shame he's with Mom and Dad on vacation," Haden said.
"We could get Paul and his boys to help," Kyle mentioned. "And I'm sure Dad will help too."
"I'll help too," Jared said.
"Me too," Wade said.
"Remember, you're going home Wednesday," Kyle pointed out.
"Well, shit," Wade said.
"You'd better watch using that word," Haden said, while suppressing a smile. "You know you're not supposed to use that word."
"I know, but I like to say shit," Wade said.
"Who is this boy?" Ray asked, while no longer suppressing a belly laugh.
"He's my cousin, Aunt Julie's boy," Haden explained.
"Little Julie has a boy?" Ray asked. "She was just a little girl when the family lived in the area."
"Yeah, she's a professor at the university," Haden explained.
"Maybe Carl would come and help with the round up, and then Wade could come," Kyle suggested.
"Yeah, he could help," Wade offered. "But he doesn't own a horse."
"He can ride Dad's horse," Haden said. "We'll ask him."
"I'd love to see Julie," Ray said. "And what about Scott, where's he now?"
"He owns an insurance agency in Covington," Haden said. "Maybe he could come too and ride Mom's horse."
"And now that Monday's weaned, Perry might be willing to help," Kyle said.
"Whoa, I'm not sure I could pay that many people," Ray said.
"We weren't going to let you pay us," Haden said.
"Yeah, you let us ride on your property, and even let us camp out here," Kyle said.
"Alright, let's plan on next Saturday," Ray agreed. "My wife will bring food out to feed everyone."
"I'm sure Amy would be willing to help with the food," Haden said.
"I'll ask Mom, I'm sure she would too," Kyle said.
"Let's help Ray finish the corral, then we'll eat," Haden said.
"Oh, I can do it," Ray said.
"We can help, and that way, it won't take so long," Kyle said.
In less than 30 minutes, the corral was up and ready for the round up. "I'm hungry," Wade said, as soon as the job was finished.
"Alright, let's eat," Haden said. "Ray, I'll be happy to share my sandwich with you."
"Thank you, but the wife sent a lunch with me," Ray said. "But I will join you, if you don't mind."
"Where do we sit?" Jared asked, after Haden handed him his sandwich and juice.
"On the ground," Kyle said.
After enjoying the sandwiches and Ray's company, Haden passed the apple slices and peanut butter around. Even Ray seemed to enjoy them.
"We need to head on back home, if you guys still want to swim," Haden said.
"Why can't we just swim over there?" Wade asked.
"I don't know the water like our swimming hole," Haden explained.
"That water isn't as clean as your swimming hole either," Ray said.
After taking the horses to let them drink, the group headed back to the swimming hole. After the horses were unsaddled and brushed, the guys changed into swimwear ready to swim. Do you guys want some lemonade before we swim?" Haden asked.
"Yeah, I'm thirsty," Wade said. "Jared, let's drink fast, so we can go swim."
"Take your time," Kyle said. "You can't go swimming until Haden and I go with you."
"Shit," Wade said.
"Wade ...," Haden cautioned.
"I told you I like to say shit," Wade said with a giggle.
"It won't be so funny, if Aunt Julie hears you," Haden cautioned.
"I don't say it when she can hear me."
"Oh, but you may forget and say it. Why don't you say dooky. It means the same thing, and maybe you won't get into trouble."
"Yeah, we can say dooky," Jared said.
"Alright, but I still like to say shit," Wade said.
"Well, dooky won't get you into as much trouble," Haden said with a smile.
"Are you ever going to finish that drink?" Jared impatiently asked.
"Alright, we'll go as soon as you boys put your glasses in the dishwasher," Kyle said. "Hey, Haden, did you see this note from Amy?"
"What does it say?"
"It has your name on it. Here, you read it."
"She and Tony went to the store for a few things for dinner. Kyle, your family will be eating with us."
"Good, I didn't want to cook."
"You're cooking now?"
"Of course, I cook when I'm not in school, or at football practice."
"Are we ever going swimming?" Wade asked.
"Alright, let's go," Haden said.
After swimming for a while with the boys, Kyle and Haden sat and watched the two young boys enjoying themselves. "I'm sorry that Dad's cousin is dead, but I'm happy that Jared is now part of our family. He's really a good kid."
"I love that he and Wade have become good friends."
"Yeah, it's too bad that Carl and Julie don't live closer. Oh, Julie will be picking Wade up around four or five tomorrow. I told Julie that he'd be here, since I have football practice."
"I'll call her to come for dinner. I'll grill some steaks down here and let the boys swim. And I'll invite Steve and Linda to join us."
"That's your phone," Kyle later said.
"Amy said that dinner's almost ready," Haden said. "Boys, time to get out of the water and go eat."
"Just a little while longer, please," Wade begged.
"You can swim tomorrow," Haden said. "Come on now."
"Dooky," Wade said.
"Yeah, dooky," "Jared said, and both boys giggled.
"Come on, you two brats," Haden said, as he chuckled.
"Yeah, you guys need to shower," Kyle said. "I brought clean clothes for you to change into."
"Get washed up, dinner's almost ready," Amy said, when the group arrived at the house.
"Kyle said we had to shower first," Wade said.
"Kyle's correct," Amy agreed. "One of you can use the shower next to the den, and the other one can use the shower in my room."
"What's on the menu?" Haden asked, when he and Kyle returned from their shower.
"It's my favorite, chicken fried steaks," Wade said.
"There's also mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and corn on the cob," Amy said.
"I'm inviting Aunt Julie and Uncle Carl to dinner tomorrow, as well as Steve and Linda," Haden said. "We'll eat down at the swimming hole. I'm grilling steaks."
"This is really good," Linda said, when she tasted the chicken fried steak.
"Grandma taught me how to make them," Amy said. "I put Tony to work helping me today."
"Thank you for the invitation," Kyle said. "I didn't have to cook."
"There's always tomorrow," Linda pointed out.
"Haden invited us to eat at the swimming hole; and besides, I have football practice."
"Have you heard from the vacationers?" Steve asked.
"Not today," Haden said. "Adam was calling every day to remind me to feed the dogs, but I guess he finally trusts me to feed them, since he hasn't called today."
"Oh, he called while you were swimming, and said that he'd tried to call you." Amy said.
"He must have called while I was in the water. If he calls back ... I fed them already," Haden said. "Where were they when he called?"
"They were close to Billings, Montana," Amy said. "They'll spend the night there, and go to the Little Big Horn Battlefield in the morning. They'll spend another night in Billings, then drive on to Yellowstone National Park. After Yellowstone, they're going to Mount Rushmore."
"In a year or two, we'll take Jared on a tour like that," Steve said.
"I'm big now," Jared proclaimed. "I get to help with the roundup."
"What roundup?" Linda asked with concern.
"Ray's separating the calves from the cows, and we offered to help," Kyle explained. "Dad, I mentioned that you might be willing to help too."
"Sure, when is this big roundup?" Steve asked.
"Saturday," Kyle said.
"Amy, I kind of mentioned that you might be willing to help Lois serve lunch," Haden said.
"Sure, it'll be fun to watch you cowboys make fools of yourselves," Amy said.
"I'll help too," Linda said. "I'll feel better about letting Jared go, if I'm there."
"I'm going too," Wade announced.
"Remember, you still need permission from Aunt Julie and Uncle Carl," Haden pointed out. "We'll ask tomorrow. Tony, we're going to ask Paul and your brothers if they wanted to go. You're welcome too."
"You know, it sounds like fun," Tony admitted. "But I don't own a horse."
"I think Jeff would let you use one of his," Haden said. "I'm going to be asking him if he wants to come out too."
"I don't think a roundup is the right time for me to start riding," Tony said. "I'll help the ladies get all the food out."
"Why don't you get everyone together tomorrow to make plans," Amy suggested.
"I was planning on cooking steaks, but with that many, all I can afford is burgers," Haden said.
"Mom and Dad left a debit card for food," Amy said.
"Dad will have a stroke when he sees that amount on his statement," Haden said.
"I haven't used it yet, so there's no charges on it," Amy said.
"I'll pitch in to purchase the steaks," Steve offered.
"And I'll ask Dad to contribute," Tony said.
"I need to call Jeff, and ask him and Nicole out too," Haden said. "Maybe I should invite Ray and Lois too."
"Well, yeah," Amy said with a laugh.
"I'll call him while you call Aunt Julie," Haden said.
"I need to call Mom," Tony said. "What about Betty and Grant?"
"I'll call Betty while you make your calls," Linda volunteered.
"Ray insisted that he provide the steaks," Haden said, after all of the phone calls were made.
"Does he realize how many steaks that'll be?" Steve asked.
"I mentioned that, but he insisted," Haden said. "He said that it's his own beef."
"I'll tell Perry tomorrow at football practice," Kyle said.
"No, they'll need to know before that," Amy pointed out. "Lacey may have started dinner by then."
It was a large gathering by the time all had arrived for the cookout. Haden and Kyle were busy grilling steaks; Amy and Tony had baked a large number of potatoes; Linda made a large salad; Betty brought a large tray of deviled eggs; Debbie brought a cake; Perry brought his grill and corn for grilling; and Lois brought a peach cobbler with homemade ice cream.
"Hey, what are you guys doing Monday?" Perry asked, as everyone ate.
"No particular plans, why do you ask?" Haden asked.
"Lacey and I are getting a house a couple of miles from her school," Perry explained.
"Wow, congratulations," Amy said. "Lacey, I'll come and help you pack."
"I've already started," Lacey said. "I still have some more packing to do though. It happened so fast, I didn't have time to even think about it."
"I'll say it did," Betty said. "This is the first I've heard about it."
"I'll be there too," Debbie offered.
"If I didn't have to work, I'd be there," Betty said. "Thank you, ladies, for helping her out."
"I'd be happy to help," Lois offered. "But I don't know where she lives, so I'd need someone to pick me up."
"We can do that," Debbie said.
"What made you decide to buy?" Paul asked.
"Lacey saw the house when she went to visit with the baby sitter," Perry said. "She insisted that I go see it. I liked it, and we've turned in the paperwork for a VA loan. The owners moved to be near their son in Florida. They offered to let us rent it until our loan's approved. But our rent's due next week, and since we're on a month-to-month rental, we decided to go ahead and move now. "
"It needs a little work, but we have friends and relatives," Lacey said. "Hint, hint."
"What work does it need?" Paul asked.
"There's old carpet throughout, every room needed painting, the kitchen needs upgraded, and I'm not sure about the heat and air unit," Perry explained. "Joe helped us, and we painted the living room and one bedroom for now. He thinks there may be hardwood floors under the carpet. But we can't do anything about that until we close on the loan."
"I'll bring my trailer over and move your furniture," Ray offered. "Don't worry, I'll make sure I wash all the cow manure out."
"Is that the same as dooky?" Wade asked. "Mom, Haden said I shouldn't be saying shit anymore, and that dooky would get me is less trouble."
"Well, I don't like dookie either, but Haden's right," Julie agreed.
This set Ray off into another big belly laugh. "He reminds me of Scott when he was younger."
"Me?" Scott questioned.
"You were quite a character," Ray said. "I suppose we need to talk about the roundup. Let me say that I really appreciate your help. It's more help than really needed, but I think the kids will have fun. Have any of you herded cattle before?"
"I have," Jeff said.
"Jeff, would you mind if I put you in charge of the drive?"
"I'd be happy to do it," Jeff said.
"Once we get the cattle and calves in the corral, we'll separate them," Ray explained. "Later, we'll separate the steers from the heifers."
"Oh, have they already been castrated?" Grant asked.
"Yes, we now castrate the babies," Ray explained.
"What's castrate?" Jared asked.
"They cut their balls off," Ethan said.
"Ethan, who told you that?" Carol asked.
"We might have known," Julie said.
"What will you do with them after they're separated?" Haden asked.
"I'll select the heifers I want to keep, and haul them to a pasture on the other side of the property away from the bulls," Ray explained. "The remainders will be put to pasture with the steers, and go to market when they go."
"That's quite a process," Paul said.
"I want to go too," Ethan said.
"Honey, you don't have a horse," Carol pointed out.
"He can ride Justin's horse," Grant said.
"Yeah, could I?" Ethan pleaded.
"Only if your dad goes too."
"Well, I don't have a horse either," Scott said.
"You can ride mine," Betty offered.
"Thanks, I'd like that," Scott said.
"Later this fall, I'll cull the old cows and send them to market too," Ray continued after the use of horses was settled.
"Lois, what do we need to do about the food?" Amy asked.
"Come by the house and we'll prepare everything, then take it out," Lois said. "If you have an extra ice chest or two ... that would be helpful."
"What food do you suggest?" Betty asked.
"Everyone will be hungry," Lois said. "I'll fry some chicken, and we can take slaw, potato salad, and corn on the cob."
"It sounds great, but wouldn't sandwiches be easier?" Betty asked.
"They would, but I'd feel guilty feeding sandwiches after everyone volunteered to help," Lois said.
The roundup began around 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. It took Jeff a while to teach the inexperienced herders how to drive the cattle. But once the guys caught on, they became competent herders, even the young guys. Some of the cattle tried hiding in the brush, but Ray's two cattle dogs were very good at flushing them out.
Once the corral was nearly full, the separation of the calves from the cows began. Only Jeff, Kyle, and Haden were in the corral with their horses. Some of the other men were helping Ray with the separations.
Once the cows were all out of the corral, Ray began separating and loading the heifers and steers that would eventually go to market. Once they were loaded, Ray drove them to a pasture away from the cows. He soon returned to load the heifers that he planned to keep as breeder cows. It was plenty loud with all the cows bawling for their calves.
"We'll round up the remainder, after we eat," Ray said. Ray had set up tables with chairs the day before.
"Where did all of these tables and chairs come from?" Jared asked.
"I didn't think you'd want to sit on the ground for a fine meal like this, so I rented them," Ray said.
The meal was delicious, and there was plenty of it. After eating, the young boys were ready to go; however, most wanted to let their food digest a little first.
With the gained experience of the first round, the second round of herding went much faster than the first. By mid-afternoon, the roundup was completed.
"I want to thank everyone for your help," Ray said. "I usually have to hire a couple of guys to help, and it usually takes two or three days."
"We're pleased to help," Jeff said. "You're kind enough to let us ride on your land and camp out."
"Oh, that's nothing," Ray said.
"Thank you, ladies, for helping with the food," Lois added.
"This was fun," Ethan said on the ride back to the barn. "Dad, could I have a horse?"
"Did you forget that we live in town?" Scott asked.
"We could leave it at Grandpa's farm," Ethan suggested.
"We'll talk about it later," Scott said.
"This is a nice place," Haden said, when they arrived to unload the furniture at Perry's and Lacey's house. "Do you have land with it?"
"There's five acres," Perry proudly pointed out. "I'll move Bonnie and Monday once we close the loan and get settled in."
"The only problem is most of the riding is done around Sparks," Haden said.
"Maybe I should start looking for a good, used horse trailer," Perry said.
"I know a fellow that has one for sale," Ray mentioned. "He only wants $750.00 for it. It's just the size you'd need. It's pretty rough, but I could fix that for you. He had a crazy horse that kicked the tailgate out."
"Once we get settled in, I'd like to look at it," Perry said.
"I'll talk to him and maybe negotiate the price down," Ray said. "It's solid, except for the tailgate; and as I mentioned, it looks rough."
"This really is ugly carpet," Amy said, when she first entered the house.
"I know, and I can't wait until we can pull it up," Lacey said. "I just hope there're hardwood floors under it."
"Hello, I'm Rachel Hendrix, we live across the road," a lady approached Haden and said. "Are you the one moving in?"
"No, my brother and his family are," Haden said. "Lacey, come over here and meet your neighbor. This is Rachel Hendrix."
"I'm pleased to meet you," Lacey said. "I'm Lacey Harrington, I see that you've met my brother-in-law Haden. The guy over there is my husband Perry. Perry's grandma is babysitting our son Dustin. Have you lived here long?"
"Just over 25 years," Rachel said.
"Would you happen to know if there're hardwood floors under that carpet?" Lacey asked.
"There are," Rachel said. "I never understood why they covered those beautiful floors with that ugly carpet."
"Well, that's good news," Lacey said. "That'll save us a lot of money."
"Will you be commuting to Covington to work?" Rachel asked.
"No, I'll be teaching at the school here," Lacey said. "My husband recently got his discharge from the army and is currently in college, so he'll be commuting."
"How nice," Rachel said. "Is there anything I can do to help with your move?"
"No, but thank you," Lacey said. "Friends and family pitched in and made short work of it."
"Well, I'll get out of your way, then," Rachel said. "This old lady was just being nosey."
"Once we get settled in, come over for a cup of coffee," Lacey said.
"I'll do that, and come over anytime," Rachel said.
"Honey, good news; Rachel said there're hardwood floors under the carpet," Lacey said.
"That'll save some money," Perry said. "I'll get a sander from Dad's rental department and do it myself."
"We can all help," Haden offered.
"Thanks, I'll sure need help moving the furniture out," Perry said.
"I'll help too," Kyle offered.
"I want to thank everyone for your help in getting us moved in so quickly," Perry said, once the move was completed.
"That's what friends and family do," Lois said.