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Rated: E · Chapter · Other · #1145691
The story continues as the reader is introduced to the ranch

         I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest;
         Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My
         breast.” I came to Jesus as I was, Weary, and worn, and sad;
         I found in Him a resting place, And He has made me glade.

         I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give The living
         water; thirsty one, Stoop down, and drink, and live.” I
         came to Jesus and I drank Of that life giving stream: My
         thirst was quenched, my soul revived, And now I live in Him.

         I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s light:
         Look unto Me: thy morn shall rise, And all thy day be bright.”
         I looked to Jesus and I found In Him my star, my sun: And
         in that light of life I’ll walk Till traveling days are done.

         This song became as familiar as breathing and before the month was
out I knew it by heart. Each morning, at the crack of dawn, it’s promises
greeted me, lifting my spirits and brightening my day. On that first
morning, the morning after the rain, I found additional solace in it’s words.

         I was soon to find out that Matthew often sang as he worked, but
every morning was started with this song. It became my way of knowing
that our work day was about to begin, soon after it ended he would appear
around the corner of the building. Each morning I was greeted with a
brilliant smile, even when he was so weary it was evident in his step.

         After feeding the horses and other livestock, we filled the water barrels and
cleaning out the different stalls. When the morning chores were complete, we walked to the common kitchen for breakfast and a rundown on the day’s agenda. On that first day I walked to breakfast wondering how my presence would be taken by the rest of the crew. Absorbed in my thoughts, I slowed down as we approached the kitchen and was startled when I found Matthew holding the door, waiting on me. At my surprised look he gave me a sheepish grin and mumbled
something about old habits dying hard. Laughing, I thanked him and
assured him that I liked that old habit as I stepped past him into the

         The murmur of voices stopped at my appearance and so did I, looking
frantically for some quiet corner away from all those questioning eyes.
Feeling panic overcoming me at the thought of being the center of attention
I started to turn around and leave.

         I probably would have if Matthew hadn’t been blocking the doorway,
but he was so close behind me that when I turned, not only did I step on
him, I collided with him as well. When I stumbled as I tried to regain my footing, I
felt him take hold of my elbow.

         Matthew gave me a worried look and asked if I was OK. Feeling the
stares of everyone in the room on me, I tried to smile but failed miserably.
Finally I gave a laugh, that sounded weak even to my ears, and told him that
I’d be fine as soon as I had my coffee. With a understanding smile, he
steered me to the end of one of the long tables and sat me down, then introduced
me to Anna.

         Later I learned that Anna was the owner’s daughter, but that morning
all I knew was that I saw compassion in her eyes. Feeling self-conscious I
sat and listened as, one by one, the crew resumed their conversations. After
watching me for a few minutes, probably to make sure I wasn’t going to get
up and run, Matthew went to get his breakfast.

         After he left Anna smiled and wanted to know what I thought of
Montana and “her” Matthew. I told her that what I had seen of Montana
was beautiful and that “her” Matthew had a beautiful voice; then Matthew
was back. Sitting down he handed me a cup of coffee, looking first at me,
then at Anna, he asked if she had been telling tales on him again.

         Sticking her tongue out at him, she went back to eating her breakfast
all the while grinning like she knew something he didn’t. Shaking his head
he gave her a big fatherly grin and good-naturedly said “god children”, then
he bowed his head, said a quick blessing and started on his cup of coffee.

         Anna was a petite little thing, barely five feet tall with fiery red hair,
bright green, mischievous eyes and a sun kissed peach complexion, the
perfect contrast to Matthew’s black hair, near black eyes and tanned skin.
Watching the interaction between the two of them I wondered if the baby I
had lost would have been dark headed like it’s father or if it would have had
my Great Grandfathers coppery red hair.

         Realizing that I was seeing in them what I had hoped to see in my
child and husband and knowing that after that last miscarriage I would
never be able to have a child, I stood up. I picked up Matthew’s empty cup
and Anna’s empty glass and walked to the kitchen. Fixing me a plate of
food and pouring Matthew and me a cup of coffee, then refilling
Anna’s juice glass gave me a flash of what my life might have been like.
On the way back to the table I noticed that they were having a earnest
conversation that stopped as soon I as drew near.

         I smiled and asked them if they were talking about me, then laughed
at the sheepish look they gave me. As I sat down I handed Matthew his
coffee and Anna her juice, enjoying their bewildered looks, then I asked a
blessing on my meal and gave thanks for the both of them.

         One by one the rest of the crew stopped by the table as they went out.
After picking up their orders for the day, they introduced themselves. On
that day I was too overwhelmed to remember anyone’s name but Anna’s,
but later, as I got to know them, their names began to sink in.

         Anna stood up, took her plate to the sink, then came back to the table
to get her schedule for the day. Matthew, eyes twinkling, handed her the
horse training schedule, telling her about the eight colts and fillies that she
would be working. I didn’t realize that I was sitting there with big eyes and
a slack jaw until they looked at me and began to laugh.

         After she stopped laughing, Anna looked at me, “ You thought that I
was about twelve didn’t you?” I just nodded as my voice wasn’t working
yet. With a childish giggle, she turned to Matthew, rolled her eyes and said

         As Matthew tried to cover the discomfit he felt; I gave him a wink
and told Anna that if she wasn’t twelve that she must be thirteen. She gave
me a look that made me laugh till tears came. With a chuckle she finally
admitted that she deserved that, but she was actually twenty two and with
that admission she headed out to the training area.

         I stood, went to the kitchen, and added my dishes to the sink. Out of
habit I filled the sink with sudsy water and began to wash them After a few
minutes I became aware that I was being watched. When I turned, Matthew
was standing in the doorway with a odd look on his face. He asked me what
I thought I was doing.

         Glancing down at my soapy hands, I told him that I thought I was
washing dishes and asked what it looked like I was doing, then went back to
washing them. I felt his eyes on my back for a few minutes, before I heard
the beginnings of a rumble, within minutes his laughter roared forth and he
joined me at the sink.

         “What I meant,” he said, “Is that we have a cooking crew that does
the dishes." Then he picked up a towel and started to dry them before
putting them away.

         After a few minutes of silence he asked me why I tried to leave the
dining hall when we came in, noting that I was as white as a sheet when I
ran into him. Sighing, I admitted to being better around animals than people.
I told him that when I stepped inside and saw everyone I panicked and
forgot everything but trying to get away.

         During the silence that followed I wondered if my admission was a
wise one, part of me wished I had held my tongue. As I reached for the last
of the dirty dishes, which shook in my hands, I felt a surge of panic. I had
bared my soul to this man who was a stranger.

         I closed my eyes and I took a deep breath. Next to me Matthew spoke
“It is GOD who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.”**

         I wondered at the gentleness in his voice. Looking at his callused
hands, I realized how different he was from what I expected.

         Without warning, he turned and gave me a earnest look. Don’t worry
about the crew,” he told me, “But the next time you feel the urge to hide
PLEASE let me know so I can get out of the way.”

         Startled, I stood for a moment until I saw the twinkle in his eyes and,
realized he was teasing. I met those bright eyes, and apologized for
running into him.

         Going back to the table we stopped to pick up our work schedule.
Matthew went down the list, item by item, pausing at the end until I looked at
him. With a playful smile he pointed out that washing dishes wasn’t there.
I thanked him and asked if I had put us behind on our work for the day. He
assured me that we weren’t behind. He explained that we would check on the
pregnant stock and then he would show me the ranch while we checked the
fence lines.

         After a brief stop to pick up our jackets, we headed to the barn that
housed the pregnant cattle. Pointing out each of the individual cows,
Matthew told me a little about them, what bull they had been exposed to,
and approximately when their calves were due. These were the first time
mothers, meaning that we would keep a closer check on them until we knew
if any of them might have delivery problems, or lack sufficient mothering

         Our next stop was the goat shed, the building across from the
my room. We checked to make sure that no new kids were on the ground.
We also checked to see which does were beginning to show signs of letting
down their milk. At each stop we checked water levels, cleaned and refilled
mineral boxes and topped off the hay racks.

         As we left the goat shed a lone barn cat came out to rub around our
legs. I reached down and picked him up. He had to be the biggest, blackest
cat I’d ever seen and he meowed a loud indignant protest at being lifted up.
Then, half closing his eyes, he proceeded to purr as I started to rub his chin.
I almost dropped the poor thing when Matthew asked me what I thought of

         CUPCAKE?! Surely he was joking! Midnight or Panther or even
Ebony, but Cupcake!!! Amused by my reaction, Matthew proceeded to tell
me how after Anna got her driver’s license, she got a job working in the
bakery at the a grocery store. She was excited to get her first paycheck and
decided to treat the family and crew. After buying 3 dozen cupcakes and
stashing them in the pickup and she ran back inside to get her coat. When
she got home Matthew said that she woke the ranch with a piercing scream.

         Rushing out to find out what was wrong, Matthew said she was found
standing by the truck with a big wooden crate in her hand. She told them
when she reached into the floorboard for the bag the cupcakes she heard a
high pitched hiss and a growl, then felt something furry pass by her hand.
When a light was shined into the truck all that could be seen was two bright
yellow eyes. After dropping the heavy wooden crate over the body of
whatever those eyes belonged to and getting the bag out, Anna discovered
that a dozen of the cupcakes had been eaten. The next morning when
everyone went out to see just what had eaten a dozen cupcakes they
discovered a tiny black kitten curled up asleep under the crate. Grinning at
me he said “So what else could she have named the little imp?” I gave
Cupcake a final pat, before setting him down, then we headed to the horse
barn to saddle our mounts for the day.

         As we walked Matthew asked me how much riding I’d done. I
admitted to not riding much recently, but assured him that I would be OK as
long as the horse was a seasoned one. Once we were in the barn he brought
out a gorgeous buckskin and a loud colored paint. The buckskin’s name
was Sunrise and the paint was Gypsy.

         Showing me to the tack room, Matthew told me which tack was
Gypsy’s and then went to saddle Sunrise, stopping mid-stride to warn me
that Gypsy liked to blow up while being saddled.

         Sure enough, when I walked him forward a couple of steps the girth
loosened up and Gypsy turned to give me a mischievous look. I had to
laugh at that look, it was so little boy like. Matthew looked over and asked
what was so funny; I pointed at Gypsy and said that I’d never seen a horse
grin like a kid before; then I admitted to already liking him.

         After mounting, we headed away from the barn then turned to ride
along the North fence line. As we rode Matthew pointed out some of the
things I needed to be looking for, such as trees leaning towards the fence,
broken wires in the fence itself, high spots that curious calves and goats
might squeeze under and low spots that they might jump over. Luckily on
that first ride we didn’t find any repairs.

         I was able to reflect upon the beauty of the landscape during the
silence of the ride. Occasionally I would catch Matthew looking back at
me, usually after one of Gypsy’s silly antics. I found that I enjoyed the
quirky geldings pranks. Coming to a wide creek, we dismounted and let the
horses drink. Gypsy began to paw and splash water on us.

         I smiled at the mess he was making, and asked if he was prone to roll
in the water. Matthew shook his head and assured me that he just enjoyed
splashing. With a laugh, he told me that most of the crew thought Gypsy
should have been a seahorse. Well that made two of us. I reached down
and pulled off my shoes and socks and waded over to him.

         The water was icy cold and made my bones ached until the nerves
numbed. As I waded to where Gypsy stood, I saw several fish swim away in
the crystal clear water. Gypsy stood watching me, his neck arched and his mismatched ears flicking back and forth. I ran my hand down his neck noting
the unruly mane that went left, then right, then left again.

         When I turned to ask Matthew Gypsy’s age, I was treated to a look of
shock that only comes when someone truly believes they’ve seen something
that can’t possibly be true. Looking first at my bare feet and wet pant legs
and then at my face I watched as he struggled to find something to say.
Unable to help myself I started to laugh.

         I laughed until Gypsy put his muzzle between my shoulder blades and
gave me a gentle push that all but unbalanced me. Grabbing his mane to
keep from toppling head long into the icy water, I had no choice but to follow
as he headed for the shore. The air felt deliciously warm against my wet
skin. I reached for my jacket I proceeded to dry my feet and legs before
putting my socks and shoes back on. I smiled to myself, then stood up to
ask Matthew what was wrong.

         Chuckling, he reseated his hat and mounted Sunrise without saying a
word. Reaching for Gypsy, I followed suit and fell onto the trail behind

         As the sun began to set, Matthew began to sing

         God, who touchest earth with beauty, Make me lovely too;
         With Thy Spirit recreate me, Make my heart anew.

         Like Thy springs and running waters, Make me crystal pure;
         Like Thy rocks of towering grandeur, Make me strong and sure.

         Like Thy shining waves in sunlight, Make me glad and free;
         Like the straightness of the pine trees, Let me upright be.

         Like the arching of the heavens, Lift my thoughts above;
         Turn my dreams to noble action, Ministries of love.

         God, who touchest earth with beauty, Make me lovely too;
         Keep me ever, by Thy Spirit, Pure and strong and true.

         With a sigh of contentment I settled into Gypsy’s gait and relaxed as
we headed back to the ranch. Topping the last rise, we stopped to watch
as the sun slowly sank from sight, then proceeded on to the barn. We
unsaddled our mounts and rubbed them down.

         After putting Gypsy in his stall, where his supper was waiting, I slid
in next to him and stood inhaling the wonderful aroma of horse and hay and
grain. I closed my eyes and whispered my thanks for such a wonderful day,
for this comical gelding and for the company I’d spent the day with.

         As I leaned against Gypsy’s warm side, I remembered the mare I’d
grown up with and all the pre-teen secrets I’d shared with her. Turning to
wrap my arms around his neck I whispered a thank you in his ear, then
patting him on the shoulder, I turned and stepped back outside the stall.

         I walked to the tack room where I cleaned his tack before putting it
away. When I left the tack room I realized that Matthew was waiting on
me. Giving me a teasing look, he asked if he should put on shin guards
before going to dinner. Resisting the urge to punch him, I started towards
the kitchen then laughed when he fell in beside me.

         Suddenly it occurred me how comfortable he was to be around, and
with that realization I came to a dead stop. It wasn’t until Matthew turned
to give me a worried look that I realized that he probably thought there
would be a repeat performance of the morning’s fiasco. I shook my head
and smiled, then I told him I was fine.

         When he continued to look unconvinced I admitted that I had just realized how comfortable he was to be around and that it had startled me. Giving me a half smile, Matthew wanted to know why that startled me. In another moment of honesty I told him that I wasn’t use to being comfortable around people, especially those that I had just met. He looked concerned, then wanted to know how I could be so uncomfortable about so many things and yet still have had the strength
to have traveled, on my own, to get there.

         I had to think about that for a moment. Finally I told him that I had felt drawn to Montana for a long time, but it wasn’t until the last year that I had the courage to take the steps needed to follow that dream and now that I was in Montana I felt more at home than I had in a very long time. With that admission I walked towards the dining area, after a moment Matthew followed me. This time I waited at the door. When I saw the pensive look on his face as he approached, I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have been so honest.

         When he realized that I was waiting, Matthew grinned and wanted to
know if I was going to need a cup of coffee to steady my nerves. Smiling
back at him I shook my head and told him no, not unless I needed to sit with
the goats that night. After we got our plates, sat down and gave thanks for
the meal I asked him how soon the nannies across from my quarters were
due. I told him that I had spent more than one night in with my own ewes and
does during the lambing and kidding season and that I would be more than
happy to stay with them when the time came.

         Looking pleased, Matthew told me that the earliest of the nannies
were due towards the end of the week, but that he had been checking on
them a couple of times a night for the last week and would be happy to have
some help. It wasn’t until later that I found out that he had been sleeping in the cow barn for two weeks.

         After finishing our meal we went back to the goat shed. Matthew
showed me where the OB supplies were at and where the cots were stashed.
He asked if I would need a sleeping bag and smiled when I told him that I
brought mine with me. Walking to the first of the kidding pens I watched as
a red headed goat calmly chewed her cud in contentment.

         Mesmerised by the sound of her chewing and the goaty smell of the
building, I thought about how tiring kidding time was. I remembered the
nightly trips I made to check the girls every couple of hours during the
last few of weeks before they kidded. I even slept in the pen with some of
them during the last week before their kids were due. I wondered just how
much sleep Matthew was getting watching both the cattle and the goats. After a minute I realized that Matthew was still there watching me.

         When I looked at him in the dim light of the barn I saw how tired he
looked. I reached down to scratch the goat that was nibbling on my hand,
and watched as she half closed her eyes and leaned into the scratching.
With a contented sigh I turned and told him that, with his permission, I
would watch them that night.

         Looking up to see that he was still there I told him to go sleep while
he could. I assured him that if there was a problem I would find him.
Stretching and giving a sigh of exhaustion he finally left for his quarters and
I refilled all the water buckets and told everyone goodnight before heading
to my room.

*Heard the Voice of Jesus Say - Louis Spohr
**Psalms 18:32
***God Who Touchest Earth with Beauty - Geneva
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