Loss and Recovery
Peggy Sue Judd-Thomson patted her two favourite horses contentedly enjoying the smell of them as they tucked into food carefully laid out for them. She touched red on the forehead gently and his ear flicked in response. She did the same for rebel and he gave a snort of appreciation. She’d had quite a workout around the property checking on fencing and inspecting to see no noxious growths were present her horses could mistakenly nibble on while they grazed. Her vet training made this an almost automatic thing. The rest of the horses had dined already out there at the feeding and watering troughs and were standing around but these two she’d raised from foals and they still gravitated to her at the same time each day for food and a pat.
She had a personal relationship with all her horses, and they responded to her calls or actions. Peggy Sue had been gifted the horses as a wedding present by her then husband. Her husband Tim was the son of the rural vet who’d once been one of her instructors at school and he inherited his father’s practice when Wayne Thomson died. He’d been ten years older than Peggy Sue at the time of their marriage five years ago and it had been a satisfactory one. It was just after she’d delivered twins Jan and Alice she received that awful news Tim had been gored and stomped to death by a prize bull he’d sedated and treated. Apparently the sedation had not worked well enough and while the bull knew him and had been peaceful on previous occasions something had spooked the animal in its half stupor and caused it to go wild. The farmer had put this animal down immediately not wanting to be privy to another person’s death.
Tim’s mother passed on to join her husband at the graveyard soon after in her grief at the loss of her two beloved men. Peggy Sue’s parents Adam and Margaret and her sheriff brother Joel had been a tower of strength during the two years of fog. The grief had impacted her milk supply for the two young babies and so her mother took them under her wing and made sure Peggy Sue continued bonding with the girls during this ordeal. Her parents had come through rough years and knew how to fight against adversity and they anxiously watched to see how their daughter would weather the storm.
Adam Judd was the roving mechanic who ranged around ranches fixing anything mechanical. Vehicles, farm machinery even light airplanes used in crop dusting responded to his magic touch. When the ranchers gave up in puzzlement after spending hours on the job they’d phone Adam in their embarrassment and he’d have the unresponsive equipment going again in no time. Ranchers prided themselves in being able to self-manage all their equipment, so it took a lot of pride out of them to make that phone call, but he was more than a tradesman he was their friend. Now Adam took on management of his daughter’s horses as well as his wide-ranging travel until Peggy Sue was well enough to commence her riding school and breeding program by herself again. It had been a two-year slog for this grieving mother but recently she’d got out of bed in the morning and said her grieving had to take a back seat now and she’d get on with her life. She’d not go back to the Vet practice she’d co-owned with her husband and sold to the assistant vet. Too many memories. She phoned her father and told him she was taking over management of her life again could he and Mom come and talk it over.
So, the proud parents dropped everything and went over to their daughter’s ranch immediately. After a brief discussion Margaret departed with the twins for the day with Adam, and Peggy Sue with a purposeful stride went out on the ranch to resume her daily chores. The animals sensed the change and responded joyfully. Peggy Sue contacted the local newspaper and inserted an ad. The riding school was open for business once again and she’d resume the breeding program. She’d still need her Mom to baby sit and help during the day, but in the evenings she’d be there for her girls and pour her love into them as they grew. It would be hard for them without a father but that was life and there were many others in the same situation, so she’d give it her best shot and not complain.
Bart Mahoney had been the one in her neighbouring ranch to pick up a copy of the Country News newspaper on a trip to their nearby roadside post box by motorbike. Their ranch homestead was a mile by dirt track from the main road and it was Bart’s job to pick up the mail each day for as long as he could remember back to his childhood. He stood by the post box and scanned the mail before opening the newspaper. He scanned headlines then flipped through pages quickly. Bart saw something that made him smile. He stuffed mail into the bag at the side of his bike and gunned the motor speeding back to the ranch house leaving a trail of dust to settle behind him. He was a free spirit and enjoyed the wind in his face as he sped around the ranch checking out cattle fattening for the beef market. He skidded to a halt spraying dust and his brother Patrick whooped in mock admiration as his brother alighted. Bart brushed past him and sped into the parlour where his Mom and Pa were enjoying a coffee break. Patrick came in close behind. Mick and Marion Mahoney looked up in surprise.
“How come you have this much energy son?”
Bart dropped the mail on the table then opened the newspaper to the advertisement section. “Our stuck-up neighbour has opened her riding school again.” He turned to his brother Patrick. “I think you and I need some riding lessons little brother, what do you say?”
Patrick pursed his lips. “I’m treading carefully with that gal, she’s the sheriff’s sister Bart.”
Old Mick Mahoney gave a loud laugh. “No Mahoney worth his salt is troubled by a sheriff son. Now that she seems to have stopped grieving for that wimpy vet we may stand a chance to own a horse ranch. Why don’t you romance the woman son, I’m sure she’ll succumb to the charms of my good-looking son!”
Patrick shook his head and marched out of the room. He turned before finally exiting. “I remember when we were teens and attending a square dance at the local dance hall you tried pushing her around when she refused to join you on the floor and Jack Turner came over and asked you to leave her alone. The Turners and Judd’s were neighbours. You hit him and he got up calmly and laid you out cold then dragged you to the door and threw you outside. Better be careful who you tackle this time Bro.”
Burt turned red and rushed out to deal with his brother who ran away and taunted him from a distance.
Bart yelled at his brother positioned at a safe distance.
“They were neighbours and she was always over there helping him fix cars but they’re not neighbours now and she needs a man in the home seeing she has two kids to look after. I’ve not forgotten that humiliation and will get my own back in due time.” Bart pounded the door with his fist as a warning to his brother not to take the teasing too far. Now it was a challenge. He’d show his family what he was made of and he’d take that stuck-up girls ranch off her in the process.
To be continued.
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