Friday morning, May 20th at the Ranch;
At seven o’clock in the morning it was cloudy, cool and dry in Bella Vista. The weather forecast was for intermittent rain. However, not a drop hit my truck windshield until I reached Palo Cedro. About now is when I started wishing I had remembered my rain slicker. It was a steady rain when I unlocked the Ranch gate and started for the barn. As I’m driving through the puddles I’m thinking it’s an hour and a half until Mrs. Hall’s kids from Redding Christian School are due to arrive. Surely it’s going to clear up. “Hope springs eternal.”
This would be the third year that Redding Christian School has brought their primary age kids to the Ranch to celebrate Redding Rodeo Week. Everyone at Trailhead was excited about working with these delightful five and six year old kids. They’re always dressed up in their colorful cowboy outfits. The little girls have on bright colored dresses, boots and hats. The boys are wearing their cowboy vests, chaps and bandanna’s. They brighten up the whole Ranch and everyone present. As it turned out, if it hadn’t been for the kids and their enthusiasm it would have been a really cold, wet and miserable morning.
Needless to say, it didn’t clear up. In fact, it got colder, windier and wetter. (You may have noticed that the weather on the Millville Plains is always a notch above the surrounding countryside.) This was starting to look like it was going to be a very unpleasant and long two hours, in spite of the kids. To make matters worse, I wasn’t the only one that came unprepared. There were a bunch of parents in light sweaters and shirts fast reaching the same conclusion.
Of course, the kids were oblivious to it all. When you’re five or six years old, in a big rustic ranch barn and the rain is beating down on the tin roof you’re not going to let a little physical discomfort slow you down.
Except for the covered wagon, outside activities were not going to work. We started out with Erik sharing about the Ranch and about cowboys. Then Arlynn lead everyone in praising God through song. Next, Alfred brought his miniature horses into the barn. And last but not least, Courtney got Mighty Bucky saddled and into action. Now things were starting to warm up. The smart phones started flashing as parents began taking pictures and videos of kids riding Bucky, sitting on Alfred’s miniature horse and petting his small colt. Now things were really starting to warm up.
The star of the show was Alfred’s one-month-old miniature horse, Patches. He’s a beautiful little pinto, about 15 inches high. Danika had her hands full keeping the crowd of mesmerized kids surrounding him under control. All Patches wanted to do was nurse his mother; he never gave the kids petting and caressing him a second thought. I’ll bet there were a couple of dozens parents that couldn’t wait to show their friends and relatives the pictures and videos they took of their kids with Patches.
After a snack we hooked up the covered wagon and off we went. This is the first time in eight years we’ve hauled kids around the Ranch in a rainstorm. Only twenty or so energetic and excited preschool kids huddled in a cold, wet and soggy covered wagon could make that trip and morning a memory that will last a lifetime.
Oh Yea! I’m knocking on the door of 75, my fake left knee locks up when I’m cold and wet. And, I get cranky. Thank you God for that “Hope that springs eternal,” that bright warm day in eternity He promise all believers. It sure makes days like Friday a blessing.
Tom is one of the founders of Trailhead Youth Ranch. He has been involved in Christian ranch and horse ministries since the early 1980s. Trailhead Youth Ranch is the culmination of 35 years of experience at various related Christian ministries.