Old horse tales continue swishing


“I had to go right back to school again just as soon as we were done threshing, so I didn’t get much chance to see Father break the new horse. He knew how disappointed I was, and told me I could be the one to name him. It seemed only right, since he was taking old Bill’s place, that he should have his name, too, but he was so young I didn’t want to call him ‘Bill.’ So I named him ‘Billy.'”

– from Little Britches by Ralph Moody

Some of my favorite stories from my childhood revolved around the horses in the old family tree.

It is said that Uncle Earl Young had such a way with horses, he was almost considered magical.

At the end of a hard day of plowing with the team of work horses, he was known to ride the pair across the open fields, through the orchards, back to the barn, standing with his foot on the back of one horse, his other foot on the back of the other horse – a circus performer putting on a great show.

Many times I heard that Great-grandpa Charlie Myers loved to dress his horses up with the fanciest tack, shined to perfection, just to go visiting on a Sunday afternoon. There was work tack, and their was “go to meetin’ tack,” and his fine horses deserved the very best.

Long after tractors had begun taking over the work of area farms, Grandpa Charlie loyally held on to his work horses. They really were his right-hand men!

A step back. With the events of recent days, who among us wouldn’t love to go back to a simpler time?

Over the course of the coming winter, Farm and Dairy readers who have not yet had the pleasure of reading a bit of Ralph Moody’s great writings simply must do so.

You will thank me for this advice. Honest.

Little Britches is the first of many in Moody’s collection, and with the subtitle Father and I Were Ranchers, I had a feeling the first time I laid eyes on this book I was going to enjoy it. I had no idea just how much.

The wonderful true story opens in 1906. Right after Ralph turned 8, the young Moody family decided to move from East Rochester, N.H., to the wonderful, wild place in the world called Colorado.

They were urged to make the move by a cousin, who insisted that a man hardly has to even work at farming in Colorado.

“Why, there just isn’t any work at all to ranching in Colorado. We have 365 sunshiny days a year, and all a man has to do is toss out seed in the spring and harvest his crop in the fall,” Cousin Phil assured Ralph’s hesitant mother.

I don’t think I would be giving too much away to say that ranching in Colorado didn’t turn out to be quite that easy…

As the story unfolds, there are horses to be broke, land to be settled and hungry bellies to be fed. Just putting food on the table in the wild and woolly Colorado land in the early 1900s is an adventure all its own.

The story is one of adventure, incredible challenges and the wonderful warmth of family that made every step of the journey so worthwhile.

Personal aside. Note to readers: Thank you all so very much for making Cort’s 16th birthday a very special and memorable one. Every card, every note, every gift is so greatly appreciated.

Your good wishes mean so much!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.