Old Joe - Chapter 1
 By mosquito   •   15th Jul 2012   •   4,213 views   •   6 comments
Old Joe Horse StoryI heard the rooster crow, and shifted in my stall to try and stretch as much as I could. First he crows, then Farmer Ben comes along, Bess and I have breakfast, and we get to work. Sunday was yesterday, when we got brushed up nice, Amy put a ribbon in our forelocks, and we took the wagon to church. If yesterday was Sunday, that meant today we had a week of work ahead. It was springtime too, so it would be hot by the afternoon, and there was a lot of plowing to do. We’d barely made a start on it; usually by this time of year we had twenty acres plowed and seeded. This year we’d barely done anything.

Today something sure was different. Farmer Ben came in, same time as always, but his hat was lower over his eyes, and he moved about the barn without whistling, without singing, without saying a word. He went about his usual chores, eventually dropping an armload of hay in our manger. Normally I’d stick my nose right in and get to my breakfast, but not today. Today I just didn’t feel hungry. I sighed deeply, and gave him a nudge with my muzzle as he brushed some stray wisps of hay into the manger.

He put one hand under my jaw, and with the other rubbed the bridge of my nose, but he wouldn’t look me in the eyes. With a firm pat, he said “Better eat up, Old Joe. Today is a big day and we have a long road ahead.” His reassuring smile was enough to put my mind at ease, and the words “long road” suddenly made me hungry. It was time to get to breakfast, so I buried my nose in the manger and started to munch away.

There was certainly a lot going on outside, and we could hear a lot of voices shouting and squealing. Young Luke came along to give me and Bess a quick brush, and get our harnesses on. Luke may think he’s almost a man, but he still can’t reach to get our straps on. I lowered my head for him as he slipped the heavy collar over my ears, and tried to ignore how he bumped my poll and caught my mane in the buckles. He was positively shining with excitement, and his hands were trembling so bad he could barely get the buckles done.

“Oh boy, Joe, this is it!” he said, and I could hear his voice just start to crack a little. “This is really it! Oregon!” he stopped, standing between me and Bess and looking off into the distance, his hand gently tapping my withers. I couldn’t see what he was looking at, but that’s boys for you.

“Imagine, Joe! Acres and acres of a big ranch, and all ours. Steer, wheat, maybe even gold. It’s all there, and plenty of it. We’ll never have to scrape by again!”

Oregon! So that was it. When Farmer Ben said a long road, he didn’t say the half of it. I’d heard about Oregon, and families setting off. Sure, it made sense. Since the war, it had been hard to get the farm going again. The family had lost everything to first one army, then the other, taking food, grain, chickens, you name it. Bess and I were only here because Luke had run off with us into the woods to hide more than once, with little Amy on Bess’s back, crying and hanging on for dear life.

We’d hide in the scrub, barely taking a breath in case we’d be heard. We’d listen to the fights, the shouts, even the gunshots as the soldiers took what they needed – and what they wanted - and wait for some sign that it was safe to go back. Sometimes we’d wait all night, Amy curled up in the moss under Bess’s feet. Bless her, dear Bess would stand there all night over that little girl, not moving a muscle. Luke would stay awake, watching and listening for any sign of trouble, then fall asleep leaning against my leg, until he’d slide down and rest his face on my feathers and sleep. Those were tough times, frightening times. I could understand why the family wanted to start over, somewhere a long way from here.

Luke led me and Bess out into the sunshine. The air had the bite of a spring morning after a cold night, and the dew was still glistening on the grass. The wagon had the cover on, but I could see it was piled high because Amy’s face peered out of the back as if she were six feet tall. She must have been sitting on everything they owned. Everyone from town was there, crying and hugging Mary until she pulled away to climb up onto the seat with Ben. Luke was riding Snowy, the little white pony that Ben had won for him in a poker game – although that wasn’t what he’d told Mary. At least that was one less person on the wagon.

I shook a few flies from my face and tipped my head to see Bess around the blinkers. “Are you ready?” I said, trying to sound brave. She didn’t even try to look back at me.

“I sure hope so,” she said quietly. “It does sound nice, though, doesn’t it? Oregon I mean.”

“Yep. It sure does.” I replied, as reassuringly as I could. I just wish it wasn’t so far away, I thought to myself. A lot can happen on a journey that far, and I’m a little old for an adventure.

Ben gave the reins a toss, slapping them gently on my haunches. I took one last look around, took a deep breath and leaned into the collar. The wheels stuck for just a moment, then began to creak and roll. We were on our way, on our way to Oregon.
Horse News More In This Category:  Horse Fiction      Horse News More From This Author:  mosquito
Twisted Rose  
You already have me hooked, this is just brilliant!
  Jul 15, 2012  •  4,018 views
I'm loving it so far! Can't wait for the next chapter :D
  Jul 16, 2012  •  4,033 views
I love this story!!!
  Jul 16, 2012  •  4,002 views
Double Spur Ranch  
This is great! Hopefully i'll be able to get your books!
  Jul 16, 2012  •  4,014 views
Painted Destiny  
I'm hooked! It's amazing so far! I can't wait to see the next chapter.
  Jul 16, 2012  •  4,088 views
Yet another promising story ! Looking forward to the following chapters to come !! =)
  Jul 21, 2012  •  4,422 views
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