In a Day’s Time (Part Five)

They’re entering the gates . . . Getting positioned for their start . . . And the gates are open. Firefly has the lead; Moondance, keeping second place. Yellowstone is staying in the back, halfway down the track, he seems comfortable staying in the back. Moondance is lining up beside Firefly. Moondance is now taking the lead. Alexander is making his way through the crowd—Yellowstone is making is way to the front. This horse is saving it all for the last round. He’s still gaining, now Firefly and Yellowstone side by side. Moondance still taking the lead. Yellowstone is making his move; he’s making is way to the front and—


Skyler jerked her head up, then faced Ty.

“Yes?” she asked.
“What were you thinking about? I was calling your name for half a minute already.”

“I . . . Ah . . .” A bridle in one hand and a sponge covered with leather soap in the other hand, Skyler scratched her cheek.

“You were daydreaming.” Ty picked up a bridle, that Skyler had already slathered with soap, and hung it on the wall. “It does no good to dream about something that hasn’t happened yet.”

“Then why dream at all?” Skyler looked up at Ty.

“Never mind that, I want you to meet our new jockey.” Ty began walking toward the truck that was parked in the yard.

Skyler stood up and followed Ty. “New jockey? What about me?”

“You were our “training jockey.” Now we have to think serious, so I hired the best around; also, the only one available.”

Skyler nodded. “I see.”

Suddenly Ty stopped in the middle of the yard, faced Skyler and said, “It’s not that you’re not good, it’s just that we need someone who’s raced at a race like this before. Someone with more experience.”

“Yeah no, I understand. But you will still train me, right?”

“Yeah, we’ll train just like always.”

The new jockey climbed out of her truck and began walking toward them; Ty and Skyler met her halfway.

“Hi, I’m Bree.” Bree shuck Ty’s hand, then Skyler’s. “May I see the horse I’ll be riding?”

“Certainly.” Ty led the way to the stall, Skyler trailing behind them.

“So, this is Yellowstone? I understand you’ve been riding him?” Bree turned her attention toward Skyler.

“Yes. Ty’s been training Yellowstone and me.”

Bree turned her head toward Yellowstone and Skyler and Ty glanced at each other.

“How is his time on the track?”

“Good.” Ty stood straight, perhaps a bit intimidated by the woman standing in front of him.

Bree turned sharply, shifting her attention from Yellowstone to Ty. “Is he ready for a race like the Shadwell Stakes?”

“We were able to enter him without a problem.” When Bree only stared at Ty, Ty cleared his throat and said, “Why don’t you see for yourself.” Ty stepped in front of Yellowstone’s stall, took the lead rope off the hook, and latched it onto Yellowstone’s halter. Then he unlatched the stall lock and led Yellowstone down the hallway. “You can run him around the track and tell me what you think.”

“Okay, I’ll meet you at the track.” With that, Bree began walking toward her truck.

When Bree was out of sight, Ty lowered his head to Skyler’s ear level and asked, “Sis, is it to late to have you race Yellowstone?”

Skyler laughed. “Come on. Let’s see how she does.” Skyler began walking down the hallway, Ty following her.
“I can’t guarantee a win, but I know he’ll try his best. He wants to run. Have you tried him with other horses?” Bree asked, still sitting on Yellowstone.

“Yes, we have,” answered Ty.

“And how did he do?”

Ty leaned forward, folded his arms and said, “Very well. He’s a natural.” Then he leaned back and stood straight.

“I hope he’ll show this much effort on race day.” Without any help, Bree unmounted the horse flawlessly. Skyler nearly let her chin drop. She would fall if she tried that. Her foot would most likely be stuck in the stirrup, while she’d be lying on ground.

Aunt Cathy, who stayed quiet until now, looked Bree in the eye and said, “He’ll race his best race. Just make sure you’re ready.”

“I will.” Surprisingly, Bree smiled at Aunt Cathy. Aunt Cathy deserved smiles, most people found her instructive words offensive, but Aunt Cathy was a sweet and funny person. She deserved way more smiles than most people gave her. Perhaps Bree was not so bad.

Five days later they drove to the Keeneland Racecourse. Skyler felt like she carried a backpack of bricks everywhere she went. Everything they worked for led up to this day. If Yellowstone won, they could save their farm. But if he lost . . . well she didn’t want to think that far. Yellowstone’s trainer, Ty; his jockey, Bree; his owner, Skyler; and his cheerleader, Aunt Cathy, all stood in Yellowstone’s stall before the race. Ty told Bree the same instructions five times, before Bree finally told him to calm down. Aunt Cathy chewed her nails, while Skyler paced around in the stall.

At the sound of her voice, everyone faced Aunt Cathy. “Guys, let’s pray.”

They nodded, bowed their heads and folded their hands. Aunt Cathy prayed for her nephew and niece, the jockeys and the horses they rode, and the horse’s owners. Then she prayed for the safety of their jockey, and their horse, Yellowstone. But above all, she prayed for guidance and understanding. If things did not go the way they had hope, that they would know the Lord holds their future and that He knows what’s best for them.

After they said amen, Ty looked up and said, “All right, let’s race.”

Yellowstone and Bree followed the other horses to the gates, entering beside Moondance and Firefly. Toes on the stirrups, reins in hand, Bree leaned forward and breathed in the crisp air, watching the fog roll off her lips as she let out her breath. The gates opened, Yellowstone launched off, joining the other horses. The roots from the grass dug out of the ground with every stride they made. They rounded the corner, with Yellowstone still in the back. Bree whipped Yellowstone once, loosening the reins slightly. Yellowstone received the hint and picked up his speed.

Bree held Yellowstone back, until the last turn. Then she whipped Yellowstone twice and loosened the reins further. Yellowstone’s hooves pounded onto the ground, as he rounded the corner. Yellowstone reached Moondance’s side. He glanced at Moondance for two seconds, then Bree let him go. Yellowstone passed Moondance; twenty feet before the finished line, he leaped pass Firefly. Bree looked back as Yellowstone’s hooves flew over the finish line.

Yellowstone held his head high as he passed the crowds on his way to the stables, while Bree waved at Skyler and Ty. Above the crowd they could hear the man announce their victory, saying, “Yellowstone receives an automatic entrance into the Breeder’s Cup Mile Race!” When Bree reached Yellowstone’s stall, Skyler held the reins, while Bree jumped off Yellowstone.

“You’re going to the Breeder’s Cup World Races!” Bree yelled.

Everyone stared at Bree.

“The Breeder’s Cup!” Bree yelled again.

Skyler smiled and glanced at Ty. Aunt Cathy continued staring at Bree, obviously wondering where Bree’s newfound excitement came from.


Aunt Cathy finally turned away from Bree and faced Ty. “Yes Ty, don’t you remember? We’re going to California. Haven’t you been listening to your sister?”

“They’re in California?”

Aunt Cathy tilted her head toward Ty and said, “Yes, that’s usually where the race is.”

Three men walked toward them, one held a recorder and the other two each held a camera. The lead man pointed his recorder in their direction, “Sir, sir,” he said. When the three men stood in front of Ty, the reporter asked, “Will we see you at the Breeder’s Cup?”

Before Ty had a chance to say something, Skyler said, “We’ll be there.”

“Yes.” Aunt Cathy faced the reporter. “You’ll see us in the newspapers—on the front page.”

“Excuse me. It’s time to take your picture.” One of the camera men stepped forward while the Johnson family gathered around Yellowstone. Yellowstone lifted his head high, facing the camera as the photographer took the picture.
Bree glanced at the ground, then up at the rider racing beside her. The finish line ten feet away, Yellowstone’s hooves moved inches ahead of Oklahoma. Bree pushed Yellowstone harder; Yellowstone pounded his hooves to the ground, giving it all he had. Again, Bree glanced at the ground; Yellowstone kept pushing harder, yet it didn’t seem make a difference. Oklahoma and Yellowstone were head to head, inches before the finish line. When Yellowstone and Oklahoma crossed the finish line, instead of cheering, the crowd fell silent.

“Who won?” Aunt Cathy turned her head toward Skyler and Ty.

Across the stands people mumbled the same question. Then the replay of the race appeared on the screen. The crowd waited; their eyes locked on the screen. When the replay ended hands clapped and voices cheered. Bree lifted her arm in the air and cheered at the top of her lungs. The she clapped Yellowstone’s mane, and trotted toward the stables, holding her arm in the air. Yellowstone shone with victory. Ty cheered with the crowd, while Skyler and Aunt Cathy wiped tears of laughter and joy off their cheeks. Yellowstone stretched out his neck, lifted his head, and whinnied.

Weeks later that same picture of Yellowstone appeared on the front page of every horse racing newspaper across the state. Skyler brought their copy to her room and grabbed her treasure box from underneath her bed. She looked at the photo, a tear running down her face and placed the newspaper in the box. She locked the box and slid it underneath her bed. A smile on her face as she left the room.

Yellowstone continued racing for four years. After that, whenever Skyler got the chance, she would lean against a dogwood tree, and watch Yellowstone run across the pasture, his tail and head lifted high.

The End.

In a Day’s Time (Part Four)

Skyler opened the front door, and headed to the kitchen cabinets. She grabbed a glass, then filled it half way with orange juice. Taking a sip of orange juice, she leaned against the counter, and stared at the wooden floor.

“What’s going through your head?” Ty asked, walking toward the kitchen.

Skyler watched Ty open the refrigerator and grab a bottle of water. “Are you still going to sell the other horses?”

“The buyer I had in mind backed out.”

“Is there another buyer interested?” Skyler stared at her glass, swirling the orange juice around.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.” Ty glanced at his bottle, then focused his attention on Skyler. “I already agreed to race Yellowstone. Isn’t that enough?”

“Yellowstone is only one horse. What about the other nineteen? They’re still headed to the slaughter house.”

Skyler wanted Ty to interrupt her; tell her none of those horses would end up in a slaughter house. But instead he said, “So are a hundred other horses. You can’t stop every horse from ending up in super markets.”

“Hundreds of people are going to lie and cheat, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Isn’t it the same here?”

“Skyler,” Ty inhaled deeply, as if trying to keep from saying something he shouldn’t. “I’m doing what I think will save this farm. And if you really wanted to be part in running this farm, then you’d be realistic.”

Skyler sat her empty glass on the counter and said, “We should go. Bob’s probably loaded Yellowstone by now. It’ll rain soon; the turf’s no good when it’s wet.” Skyler grabbed a pair of gloves from the coat closet and walked out the door.
One, two, jump. With Bob’s help Skyler mounted Yellowstone, and held on to the reins as Bob led them to the gate. Today was Yellowstone’s first time exiting out of a gate since they’d begun their training. Yellowstone moved his ears sideways, and held his head high. Slowly he entered the gate. The gate flew open. This was usually the part where the action begun. But instead of starting off, Yellowstone trotted out the gate and turned his head toward the bleachers. Skyler clicked her tong and kicked Yellowstone slightly. But instead of running, he stared at the bleachers; after two minutes, he lost interest and walked to the railing.

“The horse has gotten lazy.” Aunt Cathy shook her head, while clicking her tongue.

“It doesn’t make any sense; he was doing great yesterday.” Ty scratched his head and shifted his feet.

“Do you think there’s something wrong with him?” asked Skyler.

“No, he seems fine.” Ty examined the horse from a distance. “He looks almost . . . careless.”

“Should we try again?”

“No, it wouldn’t be any different. I’ll ask some other trainers and see if they know what’s going on.”

Skyler nodded and dismounted the gelding.

Later that evening Skyler stood in the stables, leaning against Yellowstone’s stall, studying his face. Three weeks ago, Skyler would never have thought they would’ve come this far. It had been a long shot: convincing Ty to race Yellowstone. But three weeks later and Yellowstone was nearly ready for his first race. Somehow it seemed like Yellowstone knew he would race again, or at least be promised to race again. So far, they hadn’t entered in a race, but as soon as Ty thought he was ready, Yellowstone would race. And the horse seemed to know, because he worked harder than any of them did. Surviving in the mountains for four years, then fighting to gain his strength again. Skyler almost wanted to win a race simply to give Yellowstone the reward.

“Why won’t you run?”

“He’s gone lazy.” Aunt Cathy shook her head and folded her hands behind her back.

“I don’t know if that’s it.” Skyler watched Yellowstone eat his hay, while Aunt Cathy walked toward her.

Once Aunt Cathy stood beside Skyler, she slipped her hands in her pockets. “See he runs great when he’s not exiting a gate, but when he is it’s like he doesn’t care.”

Skyler looked at Aunt Cathy, but Aunt Cathy didn’t seem to notice. Sometimes Skyler didn’t understand her aunt, why would she point out the obvious? They already knew how Yellowstone reacted, what they didn’t know is why.

“I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings.” Aunt Cathy smiled at Skyler.

“Ty won’t want to try again until he has an idea of what’s going on.”

“We’ll see, tomorrow’s another day.” Aunt Cathy gave Skyler a side hug, then headed toward the house.

Her aunt might be a high-spirited woman, but deep down, she was still the loving, caring aunt that raised them.
Skyler swept the broom across the front porch, shoving the dirt onto the grass. Red and orange colored leaves covered the ground. The leaves rustling as the cat walked across the grass and laid down under the dogwood tree. Skyler cupped her hands together, lifted them to her mouth, and breathed on them to warm her fingers. Eastern Kentucky never disappointed, fall was always cool and crisp. But soon they’d escape the cold for a while and soak in the California sun. Of course, she hadn’t told anyone about that yet. Her timing had to be perfect—everything had to be perfect. And right now, it wasn’t. Nineteen horses might still be slaughtered due to her brother, and her horse wasn’t performing the way he should. Right now, nothing but the weather seemed perfect.

Unless, unless she found a buyer who was willing to pay more for those horses than Ty’s old buyer had been willing to pay. But where would she find someone who was willing to buy nineteen abandoned horses that were barely back on their feet. Their parent’s farm had once bred only the best thoroughbreds in the state. Now they were trying to make a living off of selling abandoned horses. Ty would know who to call, but then she’d have to convince him to find a different buyer, and lately it felt like that was all she was doing, convincing Ty.

Skyler spotted Ty walking across the yard and figured she’d give it a shot. “Hey Ty!”

Ty stopped when he heard Skyler’s voice and waited for her to catch up.

Once she stood in front of her brother, she asked, “Aren’t there any other buyers interested in those horses? Buyers that won’t use them for . . . you know.”

Ty looked at his little sister and smiled. “I called a potential buyer this morning. I think he might be interested in the thoroughbreds, and we’ll see if we can’t sell the Appaloosas and Paints as trail horses or show horses.”

Skyler’s smile grew bigger with every second that passed.

Ty let out a light chuckle and said, “Hey now, don’t smile so hard, you’ll get wrinkles before I do.”

“You’re not cold hearted after all,” Skyler teased.

Ty began walking toward the stables; Skyler walking beside him.

“Why would you think I was?”

Skyler lifted her eyebrows, and gave Ty a side glance.

Ty nodded, realizing what Skyler meant, and said, “Let’s not talk about it. Stress will get a person to do some things he usually wouldn’t. But from now on it’ll be you and me making the decisions, so I can share the stress with you.”

Skyler lifted her head toward her brother. “Sounds fair to me.”

“Okay, I’ll load Yellowstone, then we’ll head to the track. I got something I think will help him.”
Skyler sat on Yellowstone, listening to Ty, when Aunt Cathy came jogging toward them, a radio in her hands. “Wait! I’m sorry Ty, honey, but I think I got something even better.”

When Aunt Cathy reached the railing, she sat the radio on the ground and stood beside it. She waited for her breathing to slow down, before she explained her plan. “Now when Yellowstone is in the gate, I’m going to hit the play button and the crowd is going to get wild.” When everyone stared at her she said, “By that I mean we’re going to clap and cheer Yellowstone on, making him believe there’s a crowd.” Still, everyone only stared at Aunt Cathy, so she clapped her hands and raised her voice, “Well let’s give it a try at least. Now get in the gate.”

Skyler entered the gate and Aunt Cathy pressed the play button. Yellowstone’s ears shot forward with the sound of the recording. The gate flew opened and Skyler pushed Yellowstone forward. The horse took off at a steady speed; the more excited the man on the recording became, the more Yellowstone’s speed increased. The louder the cheers on the recording, the harder Yellowstone tried. Skyler countered the turn of the track and rode the horse to the finish line.

When she finally slowed Yellowstone to a trot, she turned him around and trotted toward the railing. “It worked!” Skyler said, breathing deeply.

“I thought it might.” Aunt Cathy looked at Ty, who only smiled at his aunt.

Skyler laughed, still petting the horse’s mane. After a while, she sat up straight and looked her brother in the eye. Not a hint of a smile appeared on Skyler’s face when she said, “The Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes are in two weeks.”

Ty stared at Skyler. “It’s a mile race.”

“I know the risk; I think Yellowstone’s willing to take it.” Skyler allowed herself to show a slight smile, while she waited for her brother’s response.

Ty looked at Yellowstone, as though he was reading his mind. Finally, he answered, “Let’s win the Shadwell Stakes.”

“And then the Breeders’ Cup?”

“Hey, I say, all in or nothing at all.” Aunt Cathy slapped the railing, smiling at her niece and nephew.


Will Yellowstone win the Shadwell Stakes, or will the family lose their farm after all? Find out Tuesday, November 5th, on The Farmer’s Daughter.

In a Day’s Time (Part Three)

“How is that going to help us?” Aunt Cathy sat down in the lazy boy and focused all her attention on Skyler. “That horse is nearly skin and bones.”

“He’s not as bad as the other horses. We could nurture him back to health.” Skyler held the laptop on her lap, still sitting on the couch.

“The vet bills and the time and training that would go into it. I don’t know sis, it’s a long shot.” Ty slid his hands in his pockets and shifted his feet.

“But we could do it. Four years ago, he was the best at his game. He won every race, except for one: his last one.”

Someone honked a horn outside and all three of them looked out the window. A red dodge diesel drove onto the yard; obviously in a big hurry. Ty stood up straight and said, “I have to go. We’ll talk about this later.”

“He says, “We’ll talk about this later” but when is that,” Skyler said after Ty walked out the door. She placed the laptop on the coffee table and leaned back against the couch. She lifted her head to the ceiling, while twiddling her thumbs.

“Find out why this owner would want to abandon a prize race horse. Get all your research, then talk to your brother again.” Aunt Cathy sat up in the lazy boy and placed her hand on Skyler’s knee. “Always have all the information before a presentation.” Aunt Cathy winked at Skyler and walked into the kitchen.

Skyler smiled to herself, then stood up, ready to do her chores. After that, she would find out everything she could about this mysterious race horse.
Skyler knocked twice, then stepped back, waiting for the door to open. Three trash bags sat beside the door, and from what Skyler could see, they were half filled with beer boxes. The man loves Budweiser. Every football season people gathered around their TV and supported their team, while drinking their favorite beer. She suspected that’s where all the alcohol came from. She was not a fan of football or beer—of course, she wasn’t legally allowed to like beer. But even if she was legally allowed, she knew she wouldn’t like it.

Still no one opened the door, so Skyler knocked again. An old sofa stood in front of the window by the door. The thought of sitting on the sofa disgusted Skyler. Mice were most likely living in it and kittens had most likely been born on it. Out of curiosity, Skyler leaned sideways to smell the couch, but quickly drew back. Judging by the smell, a skunk had sprayed on it, or a dozen mice had died in it.

Skyler folded her arms across her stomach, hugging herself. Five crushed pickups were parked around the run-down garage; cats napped on the side walk, while a gentle breeze rustled through the leaves. Skyler stepped forward and pounded on the door. When no one answered, she peaked inside the storm door. She placed her hand on the nob and felt it turn. She glanced down at her hand, removing her hand from the nap, still the nob turned. Skyler backed up, thinking about running. Then the door swung open and a middle-aged man stepped outside. From the looks of it, he’d been sleeping.

“What do you want?” The man stood underneath the doorway, holding the storm door open.

Skyler slid her hands in her sweater pockets and asked, “Are you Joe Wilson?”

“Yeah. So?” Even from a distance Skyler could smell the awful scent coming from his breath.

“Were you the owner of a horse named Yellowstone?”

“That horse meant more to me than those other horses ever did.” The man let go of the storm door and waved in the air, nearly losing his balance.

“Okay, did you race it?”

“We could have won. But that horse couldn’t have beat a swamp rabbit. I’m glad I left him. Glad! He wasn’t good for anything.” The man eyed Skyler, then he closed his eyes and nearly fell again, but the doorway held him up.

“Okay. Thank you. Bye.” Skyler turned around and jogged to her car. Once in the car, she slammed the transmission in reverse and backed onto the dirt road. Then she put it in drive and headed toward town. It would take three laundry cycles to wash the stink out of her clothes and ten mints to get rid of the terrible taste in her mouth. Just being around that man made everything disgusting.
“Joe Wilson. He’s the youngest and worst drunk around. That man wouldn’t know a good thing if it slapped in the face,” one of the women said as she washed the wall.

Skyler drove to the church after her visit with Joe, knowing the ladies were deep cleaning it this week. And no one knew more about their town than these women did. It was wrong to gossip and a sin to spread lies about someone else, but nonetheless, these ladies knew everything about their town from the newest shoe sales, to the youngest drunk in town. It was the curious female mind; some would say that’s why they’re so smart, others would say that’s why they get in trouble. Even so, the pastor always reminded them—and everyone in church—to do their absolute best to follow the Lord’s way. And Skyler knew his reminders were necessary, otherwise who knew how far these women would go; Aunt Cathy included.

“You should have never gone down there yourself. You could have gotten in serious trouble,” Mrs. Thomas said, while wringing out a wash cloth.

“I know. What can you tell me about him? Why did he abandon his horse?”

Mrs. Thomas sat aside her rag and leaned against the wall. Then she began telling Skyler the story: “About four years ago he started drinking. No one knows why, but it took control of him.” Mrs. Thomas paused from the story to say, “And that’s why you never start drinking sweetheart.” She pointed a finger toward Skyler, then continued her story. “Anyways, he became the town’s newest drunk. When he promised to quit over and over but never did, his wife grew tired and left him. She moved to Kansas—we think—we haven’t heard from her since. They never had any children and with his wife gone, he only had his racing business. Well you know money will fail you, and that’s what it did to him. He lost the most important race of the year due to improper feeding. Some think he poisoned his horse; others think that someone else poisoned it; a few people think he hired someone to do it. But he lost the race and he grew so angry no one wanted to be around him. Money will do that to you, you know. A few days after the race, he got drunk, loaded his horses and drove them to the mountains. How he didn’t crash that night was a miracle. Anyways, he unloaded all his horses in the mountains, where everyone else unloads their horses. And later that night, driving home, he got pulled over for drinking and driving—but that’s beside the story. After he dumped all his horses, he had no income, so he lost his business. The bank took everything. And he was left living at an old farm house that the town gave him.”

“I know we’re supposed to do the kind thing, but that man didn’t even deserve that house,” one lady said, shaking her head, and clicking her tongue.

Skyler smiled and asked, “And no one ever went looking for those horses?”

“Well sweetheart, once those horses move to the mountains, they’re nearly impossible to track down.”

Skyler nodded. “I know.” She folder her hands, waiting for more ladies to speak. When no one did, Skyler slapped her hands against her hips and said, “Oh, well, thank you. Aunt Cathy and I would be happy to help clean the church, if you need the help?”

At this the ladies smiled, obviously proud of her for offering. “Well it’s nice of you to offer, but I think we’ll be done in the next two days.

“Okay, well, you all have a nice day.”
“He’s a six-year-old gelding, his registered name is Yellowstone, his first year racing he raced in every race possible and won nearly all of them.”

Ty looked up from the record books and asked, “Okay what about his second year?”

“That was his only year. That year his owner got drunk and dumped all his horses in the mountains, including his best race horse, Yellowstone.”

“So, you’re asking me to risk everything I have on a race horse who hasn’t raced in four years?” Ty leaned back in his chair and rolled his pen between his teeth.

“I know you could train him. I know we could get him back on his feet.”

“And what do we do for money until he can race—or if he can race?”

“We can figure that out together.” Skyler stared at Ty, reading his every move.

“Together huh? Tell me what you would do for an income—if we don’t sell those horses to the meat market.”

Skyler stared at Ty. Then she looked at the desk, and twiddled her thumbs.

“You didn’t have your full presentation ready. You have to be prepared for anything.”
Skyler looked up at Ty.

“Sis, this is what we’ll do. With the horses I sold last week, we have a few open stalls. We’ll rent out the stalls to boarders. I know people need stables to board their horses at; with the money we’ll make from that and the money we have saved, we’ll manage.”

I could have thought of that. But I didn’t. Skyler swallowed her embarrassment and stood up straight. “So, we’re in the racing business?”

Ty nodded. “We’re in the racing business.”



To be continued . . .
In a Day’s Time (Part Four) will be available nest Tuesday,
we’ll see you then.


In a Day’s Time (Part Two)

“How could you not tell me? Both of you—how could you keep something like this from me?” Skyler stood in the hallway, between the stalls, with Aunt Cathy and Ty standing in front of her.

“We didn’t want you to worry,” Aunt Cathy finally said.

“It’s like you guys pretend not to know that I’m part of this farm. The minute I turned eighteen this farm became mine as much as it is Ty’s.”

“We should have told you and we’re sorry.” Ty glanced out the stable doors and said, “Look, I have to go. We’ll talk about this some more later.”

And with that, Ty strode onto the yard to meet a customer. Skyler didn’t know how much there was left to talk about. She could argue as much as she wanted; no one would take her serious until they saw that she could be trusted. And right now, she had no idea how to make them see that.

“Hon—” Skyler turned her head toward Aunt Cathy, who still stood in front of her. Skyler stared at Aunt Cathy, waiting for her to finish. After ten seconds of listening to Aunt Cathy stutter, trying to find an excuse, Skyler turned around and headed toward the house. It was time to prepare lunch; unfortunately, Aunt Cathy would be helping her.
Three horses stood in the pasture with their heads over the wooden fence. One horse lowered its head and started grazing, while the other horses stared into the distance. The smell of smoke interrupted Skyler’s thoughts, and when she turned her head away from the window, two black slices of bread jumped out of the toaster. Skyler heard Aunt Cathy walking toward the kitchen and quickly threw the two slices of bread out the door and popped another two slices in the toaster. Then she placed a hand full of chips in everyone’s plates, so it would look like she’d been working all along. Once again, Skyler was glad that Aunt Cathy couldn’t smell. Aunt Cathy did not need to know how many times Skyler had burned something. If no one else knew that she messed up on occasion, it didn’t bother her. She didn’t know if she could cook again, if they ever found out.

“Aunt Cathy?” Skyler spread mayonnaise on a slice of bread, and asked, “Isn’t there any other way to make money?”

“Honey, I don’t approve of this any more than you do. But your brother won’t listen to me.”

Skyler nodded. She licked the mayonnaise off her finger and placed the finished sandwich on a disposable plate. After she finished all three sandwiches, she carried the plates onto the table and got three cokes from the refrigerator.

“I hate to see those horses be shipped off to Canada for dog food—or even worse, sold in grocery stores.” Skyler sat down in front of her sandwich. “I know other people do it, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it.”

“I know it seems wrong. But do you have any other ideas?” Aunt Cathy sat down beside Skyler.

No, I don’t.

The door swung open and Ty walked through the door. He left his boots on the floor and hung his cap on a hook, then he sat down next to them. They bowed their heads and begun eating their food.
That afternoon Skyler walked to the pen behind the old horse shed, that should have been torn down years ago. Skyler climbed over the wooden fences and walked through the pastures, the damp grass soaking through her jeans. Soon Skyler’s speedy walk, turned into a single step every three seconds. A lump formed in her throat, not believing what she saw. She closed her eyes, hoping the horses weren’t as bad as they appeared, but when she opened her eyes, they seemed almost worse than they had before. Who would do such a thing? Who would abandon their horses?

Skyler climbed over the fence and walked around the horses. In total, she counted nineteen horses. They remained where they were, eating every inch of grass they could. What were now starved horses, were once loved pets or maybe even show horses. Her brother would be cold hearted to agree with what these people had done to their horses—he must be cold hearted. Skyler walked across the pen, lifting her chin as a flock of geese flew over her head. When she lowered her head, she saw a brown thoroughbred standing in the corner. It held its head high, staring at the thoroughbreds in the pasture.
Slowly, Skyler walked toward the horse, when she reached hearing distance, she softly spoke. “You want to be out there with them, don’t you?” Still the horse stared into the distance. He wasn’t as skinny as the rest, but not in top condition either.

She stepped to the front of the gelding, making sure he could see her. Then she stepped to the side and ran her hand down his mane. At this the gelding whinnied and Skyler stepped back. Skyler stepped in front of the horse to read its face. The gelding threw his head up and down, then stopped midway and gave her a smile.

After a long laugh, Skyler said, “You can smile too?” With this the horse shook its head. Again, Skyler laughed, stepping closer to scratch behind his ear. “Who would ever want to abandon you?”
“Skyler you had no business going back there.” Ty stood in the corral trying to count the horses before they loaded them onto the trailer.

Skyler leaned against the corral panels, eyeing her brother, when she said, “Why did you bring those horses here? Most people load them up in the mountains and head north; couldn’t you get caught easier this way?”

Ty pointed his figures in the air, double checking the head count, then he motioned for the men to load the horses.

“You couldn’t leave them out there, could you? You care about those horses. Why else would you bring them here where everyone could find out what you’re doing?”

“Skyler,” Ty faced his sister, “This is what has to be done.” Then he jumped over the corral panels and strode toward the office.
Skyler pulled the blanket up to her neck and curled up under it, then she threw the blanket off her body and stretched her legs out. She tossed side to side, images becoming vivid in her head. Hundreds of horses staring at her . . . horses running full speed toward her . . . horses rearing . . . next the gelding galloped through the herd. All the other horses vanished like ghost and the gelding halted two feet in front of Skyler. He lifted his head and smiled at her. His smile repeated in her dream—the same smile she’d seen earlier that day—over and over. Black ink marks became more vivid every time the gelding smiled. Black ink marks on his upper lip—black ink marks, black ink marks . . .

Skyler woke up, turned onto her back and stared at the ceiling, saying, “Black ink marks. Black ink marks,” then it all become clear. She jerked up and yelled, “Black ink marks!”

Skyler picked up her robe from the floor and slipped on her fuzzy slippers. Careful not to wake Aunt Cathy, she tiptoed across the house to Ty’s room. She turned the nob and opened the door. Skyler closed her eyes and took two steps into the room, whispering his name, until she heard his voice. Then she asked him a question; when he answered her, she knew he was up.

“Okay.” Once he was fully awake, she opened her eyes and walked to his bedside. “I found a tattoo on the gelding’s upper lip this afternoon.”

“So? Go back to bed.” Ty pulled the blanket over his head.

“No, don’t you know what this means?” Skyler clapped Ty’s shoulder, until he moved the blanket away from his face. “Think about it.”

“You found a tattoo on a horse. The owner liked tattoos so he tattooed his horse on the . . .” At this Ty fell quiet, but only for two seconds then he mumbled, “Upper lip. He tattooed his horse on the upper lip!”

Skyler slowly nodded, then said, “Yes exactly! The gelding is a race horse.”

“Yeah.” Ty nodded for five seconds then he said, “Now go back to bed.” Ty pulled the blanket over his head and dosed off.

That morning Skyler ran to the old horse pen. With every intention to make her brother see the potential in owning a race horse. But first she had to know what kind of race horse they were dealing with. Once she reached the gelding, she slowed her pace to a gentle walk, careful not to startle the horse. Not wanting to open the horse’s mouth, afraid it might spook him, Skyler smiled at him. The gelding stared at her. Skyler smiled again . . . and again.

“Fine, let’s try it the hard way.” Skyler placed her right hand underneath the horse’s mouth. Then she slipped her left-hand thumb between the horse’s lips and lifted his upper lip. The horse stood still, while Skyler read the five-digit registration number. She said it over in her head until she had it memorized.

Once she had what she needed she ran to the house, under the doorway, and into the living room. She opened her laptop and typed the registration number. Skyler stared at the screen, eyeing the circle in the middle. She tapped her fingers on the keyboard, then she tapped her feet on the floor. There! All the information she needed was in front of her eyes.

Her eyes followed the black letters on the screen. She wanted to make sure what she read was correct, so she read it three times. Then she shouted, “Guys! Aunt Cathy! Ty! Come here.”

Once the two of them stood in the living room Skyler looked at them and said, “We’re the owners of a champion race horse.”

To be Continued . . .

Could this newly discovered race horse make a difference in their farm’s financial status? If this horse is capable of racing again, will Ty be willing to take the risk?
Find out next Tuesday, right here, on The Farmer’s Daughter.

In a Day’s Time (Part One)

Skyler jogged to catch up with her older brother, Ty, and asked, “Why can’t I see him?”


“Why not?” Skyler’s legs kept a steady speed in order to keep up with Ty. “Would you slow down and answer my question.”

Ty halted and turned his head toward Skyler. “That horse doesn’t concern you. I’m begging you, do not go in there.”

Skyler took a step back and folded her arms across her waist. After taking a deep breath, she said, “Okay, I won’t.”

Ty waited five seconds before he nodded, turned his head and headed down the hall. Skyler sighed, and turned the opposite direction to the stall she had been cleaning, when her brother showed up with a horse trailer behind his pickup. Why would her brother bring a horse to the stables that no one was supposed to see? If something wasn’t supposed to be seen, you kept it out of sight. Only her brother would bring a secret horse to an active horse farm. One day she would show her brother that she knew how to run a horse farm. One day he would let her call the shots and work alongside him. But she had to wait for the right moment to prove to him that she could do it, otherwise she’d look like an eager child. And that was exactly the opposite of what she had in mind.

Skyler loaded the last pile of manure into the wheelbarrow and drove it down the hall, on her way to the manure pile. Halfway down the hall she heard something—or someone, fall in what sounded like the office. Skyler left her wheelbarrow in the middle of the hall and ran to the office.

“Aunt Cathy?” Skyler stood underneath the doorway, wondering why her aunt laid beside the office desk and why all the record books laid on the floor. “What are you doing on the floor?”

“Well I thought I might take a nap.” Aunt Cathy rolled her eyes, then used her hand to push herself off her belly.

“Here let me help you.” Skyler rushed over to her aunt’s side and took her arm, wanting to steady her wait.

“No, I got it.” Aunt Cathy placed her hand on the desk and pushed herself up. “I was reaching for the record book on the top shelf; when I couldn’t get it, I stepped on the bottom shelf, but I guess”—Aunt Cathy paused to catch her breath— “It didn’t support my weight.” A small chuckle left Aunt Cathy’s lips, as she bent down to pick up the journals.

“Why didn’t you just use the stepstool?” Skyler pointed to the stepstool that sat pushed against the wall.

“Oh.” Aunt Cathy turned her head toward the wall, leaving her lips open. She licked her upper lip, then closed her mouth and focused her attention on Skyler. “We have one of those?”

Skyler nodded, her lips forming a slight smile.

“Well, now I know for next time.” With a smile on her face, Aunt Cathy gathered the books off the floor, while Skyler lifted the bookshelf. “A nap would be nice though,” Aunt Cathy mumbled under her breath.
Skyler watched Ty pour orange juice in a glass and grab one granola bar from the pantry. Then he picked up his phone from the buffet table and walked to the breakfast table. He let out a deep sigh as he sat down. He sat his orange juice and his phone on the table, then he leaned back against his seat and unwrapped his granola bar. After that he picked up his phone—probably scrolling through Facebook— and ate the granola bar.

“Why not?” The sound of Skyler’s voice startled Ty, causing him to drop his phone.

After Ty picked up his phone Skyler asked again, “Why not? Why can’t I see the horse?”

Ty stared at Skyler from the corner of his eye, while further unwrapping his granola bar. After a few seconds, he said, “Because.”

“That’s what you said last time and you know that’s not an answer.” Skyler looked around the house. “And where’s Aunt Cathy?”

“She had an early appointment at the chiropractor. And I know it’s not the answer you want, but I really can’t tell you any more.” Ty took a drank from his orange juice.

“What’s wrong with her? Is this because she fell off the bookshelf? I asked her why she didn’t use the stepstool.”

“Yeah, she hurt her back. She’s getting older and older every day. I don’t know how long she’ll be able to help out.” Ty drank the rest of his orange juice, and walked to the counter.

“She’s only forty-four.” Skyler picked up her cereal bowl and brought it to the sink. While Ty leaned against the fridge, finishing his granola bar. “She’s just clumsy and spirited. She’s always been like that.”

“Well those two words should never go together when explaining someone’s personality.”

“Yeah well . . . wait!” Skyler leaned over the sink to get a better look out the kitchen window. “Why is Bob walking that dreadful horse. Is that our horse? It looks like it’s never been fed.” Skyler started walking toward the door. “Oh, Ty. The poor thing.”

By this time Skyler was out the door, sliding her boots on. Ty stood under the doorway, trying to explain. “Skyler, wait. Skyler . . .” But Skyler wouldn’t listen, instead she marched toward Bob.

“Bob, let me take him.” Skyler took the lead rope from Bob and took a good look at the horse.

When Ty reached Skyler, she asked him, “Why is this horse so skinny. Where did you get him from?”

Ty reached out to pet the horse, as if wondering how to answer her question.

“The truth would be nice.”

“Fine. I bought him, and nineteen more, from an old man, who lives about an hour from here.”

“What do you plan to do with them?” It was a simple question, but one she feared the answer for.

“I was thinking I might sell them.” Ty stared into the distance, while still petting the horse.


“A guy who buys these types of horses.”

“A guy who buys them, then sells them in super markets?” Skyler waited ten seconds. “Answer me!” she yelled.

Ty turned his head and glared at Skyler. “Yes!”

Now Skyler waited longer. All the employees remained where they were; none of them working. Instead they stared at Ty and Skyler. Obviously, they had heard everything. Skyler didn’t care what they thought though, she cared about the horses and the cruel people—like her brother—who did this to them.

“Why?” Skyler’s eyes filled with tears.

“It’s what has to be done.” Ty grabbed the lead rope out of Skyler’s hands and led the horse to its hidden pen. Skyler stood in the middle of the yard, watching her brother walk away. After everyone went back to work, she walked into the house and finished the breakfast dishes.
“2014, 2015, 2016 . . .” Skyler whispered to herself as she scanned the record books. “2017 . . . Uh-huh!” She grabbed the record book off the shelf and wrapped her sweater tighter around her waist, as she sat down in the office chair. She flipped through the journal, but had no idea what she was looking for. She should have paid better attention in math class. There! The farm’s income from the last five months. Three pages in, her fingers went numb, her heart raced and her head hurt. She wanted to stop reading but she couldn’t.

“What are you looking for?” Aunt Cathy stood underneath the doorway, studying Skyler.

Skyler looked up, fog rolling off her lips when she said, “We’re about to lose the ranch.”

Aunt Cathy straightened her body and nodded.



To be continued on October 8th, 2019