Adventures with Blaze
Slowly walking toward the lot where his dad had parked, Buck begin to think about what he might do this summer, now that school was almost out. His 15th birthday was coming up, and the summer held a lot of promise. Fifteen in a month. I can hardly wait, Buck thought.
Buck pondered the fact that none of his friends called him “JJ” any longer. It was that one time when ol’ Peanuts threw me to the ground, Buck recalled, that was when the nickname stuck.
It was a couple years ago when he, Scotty and a few friends were at the corral on dad’s ranch, the Bar W. Someone in the group dared JJ to ride the old roan horse called Peanuts. Peanuts got her name because she seemed a little nutty at times, and had this skittish streak.
JJ could not let the dare go unchallenged, so, he threw a saddle and bridle on Peanuts and climbed aboard. Instantly, Peanuts went into a crow hop and dropped her head, as if to start bucking. JJ yanked back on the reins to get her head up, but he knew he was in trouble when Peanuts ears went back, and she started prancing sideways. Her moves were fast, and JJ quickly found himself hanging on, feet firmly planted in the stirrups, and hands grasping the saddle horn. At the same time this old tom turkey, while strutting around the place, jumped on the fence and gave out a loud gobble gobble. Ol' Peanuts jumped sideways and back on her hind legs, and before JJ knew what was happening, he found himself flying off and landing on his backside in a fresh pile of ol' Peanut’s poop.
Well, to JJ's friends that was great entertainment. Scotty, his best friend, said, “Hey Buck! Good job. You showed that old horse who was boss.” They were all applauding JJ, and giving him ‘high fives.’ “Hey Buck,” Scotty teased. “Our favorite cowboy who can’t stay on a horse.” So, from then on JJ's name became J.J. “Buck” Winslow. JJ really didn’t mind, in fact, he rather liked his nickname.
“Hey Buck,” JJ’s friend Scotty called out, interrupting Bucks thoughts. “What’s up for the weekend?”
“Not much Scott, but I suppose dad has a few chores for me.” Buck responded. “If I can get away from the ranch I might go and see if there’s any fish in the ol’ fishing hole.”
“How about me tagging along.” Scott replied. “If we catch anything we can tell lies about it just like all us expert fishermen do.” Scott laughed.
“Great, call me tomorrow and we'll make some plans. You always had your way around the truth.” Chuckled Buck.
While climbing into his dad's car, Buck spotted, out of the corner of his eye, the new girl in his class. Her name was Katherine, but her new friends called her Kate. She had long brown hair pulled up in a ponytail. Buck caught her eye and shyly smiled. She waved and said, “Hi.” Buck waved back, and climbed into his dad’s car.
“Who was that young girl?” Dad ask.
“She's new in school,” Buck replied. “Her parents moved here from someplace back in Missouri. Her dad trains horses, and figured his opportunities were better out here.”
They had driven for a few minutes when dad turned to Buck and said, “I have a few things for you to do this weekend. Your mom and I are going to a livestock sale down by Donley. We’re going to see what kind of livestock is available on the market, and to check the local prices. We will be back in a couple of days. Big Ed will be at the ranch looking after things, if necessary. You’re getting old enough so you can begin taking more of the responsibilities upon yourself. I want you to keep your eye on the cattle. I am reasonably sure that they should be okay.”
“There has been a wild wolf spotted in this part of the county, so I want you to keep an eye on the livestock. I'm not too concerned, but just in case check the herd occasionally.” Dad continued, “I would like for you to check the pond on the east section, too see how much water it has. If there is very little, we will need to move the herd closer to the big pond, which has plenty of water. That should keep you busy.”
“Dad, Scotty and I would like to go fishing.” Buck said. “We could do the job together. The cattle are close to the river and we could stop for a while and try our luck.”
“That’s fine, but don't neglect your responsibilities.” Dad replied.
“One other thing,” dad said, “Joe Tanner is coming over this weekend to tend to ol' Sparky. Sparky’s hooves have been sore lately, and he will probably need to re-shoe the old horse. Stay close while Joe is here, and watch him work. You might learn a few things from him.”
After supper that night, Buck went to bed early thinking of what he would do this weekend. Scotty and I could saddle up a couple of the horses and do our chores. We could take our fishing poles with us, and find a quiet place to fish. Before his eyes got too heavy, he thought of that new girl in school, Kate. He smiled and immediately fell asleep.