Loving Hands - Home Is Where the Herd Is
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. While K-State has become my home away from home, I appreciate time with my family back at the ranch in Lyon County. There is something to be said for the renewing vibes I find there. I recently took advantage of a short weekend, absent of (too much) serious studying, by venturing down through the Flint Hills, back to that familiar place. What my mom and dad were most excited about was that they not only had me back for a bit, but also my sister and brother-in-law.
When I walked through the door to the kitchen, I was greeted by one of my dad' bear hugs. "Good to have you home," he said. He was just about to head back outside, so I followed suit. Barn cats were out and about as well, sunbathing on the back porch and enjoying the fair-weathered afternoon.
My dog, Jess, had yet to greet me, but as I figured and as Dad informed me, she was already with mom in the tractor. Either Jess thinks it's important to survey the cattle during feeding or she just likes the ride. Nevertheless, kiddie seats are just her size. Lucky for me, Mom had just fed at the pens nearest to the house, so I flagged her down. She puttered and squealed to a stop in her tractor with the feed wagon. Jess barked, letting me know she saw me. I climbed up to give her a scratch and gave the driver a hug too. My dog gave me a few loving licks in return. I let her hop down from the tractor after that, because as much as Mom would rather be the favorite, Jess has always taken a particular liking to Dad. Consequently, I did not feel bad about swiping her seat in the tractor to keep Mom company as she drove to the remaining bunk lines.
Mom and I chatted away on the drive. She told me about her week and I about mine. Simple conversation was nice. Once we had emptied the wagon, we headed back home for dinner. I sometimes point out to her after one of her many excellent home cooked meals that she not only did well preparing the meal, but also did well feeding and tending to the animals that provided us with the protein for the meal. My mom is particular about both her cattle and her kitchen. The rest of us admire her careful attention.
Speaking of mom's kitchen, one of my favorite parts of coming home besides family, free laundry, all the critters, and my own bed is being able to cook and bake. So, Mom and I made frosted sugar cookies. It was not long before a variety of heart-shaped cookies lined the counter, making the house smell sweet and homey. They were perfection, aside from a couple broken ones. Those never last long.
Aside from these aforementioned classic trademarks of home, there is always local news to hear abou or questions I pick my dad's brain with while we are together. The new seasons bring new stories and new challenges. With my sister getting married in August, it seems as though we are in the thick of wedding season. My family may function abnormally in some ways because of the type of lifestyle the ranch demands, but we are average in the way that we are quirky, have dysfunctional moments, and pick each other up when we fail.
Despite attempting to filter my bias, I think my dad and mom are pretty neat. Their loving hands have raised me and let me run on my own. They have shown me how to live honestly, work through struggles, and enjoy the precious company of family and friends. Home is comfortable, but they know I have to discover the world beyond for myself. Agriculture is one piece to my puzzle- one that I'm still putting together. Home is gracious. Home keeps me rooted. Home keeps me strong.