Jen Jeffrey: Pulling Cows Out Of The Mud

Sunday, June 23, 2013 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

For the past few weeks, I have stayed home to be here for Mama while recuperating from her recent shoulder surgery. Brian has been over nearly every day.

You know what it’s like when you experience new love … you make eyes at each other, you smile so big that you look like you slept with a coat hanger in your mouth, and, of course, the kisses. Lots of kisses.

I think I became a teenager again while being here for Mama and trying to be with my boyfriend. She got used to the silliness, but I am sure there were times when we got on her nerves with all the smooching noises in the next room. Whenever I prepared a meal in the kitchen, Brian snuck by to gives me sweet, tender kisses.

One night while watching Little House on the Prairie with Mama, there was a kissing scene when Mary Ingalls and Adam got married. Mama blurted out one of her “Mama Said’s” that had me rolling. On my Facebook writer’s page, I have an album of posters with sayings that Mama says that just crack me up.

The latest one while watching the kissing scene on television was, “I guess now we get to listen to them pull cows out of the mud – sounds just like you and Brian!” and she made kissy noises. I think I laughed for five minutes straight before I could add that “Mama Said” to my album.

With Mama starting to have a little more mobility lately, Brian and I decided to go to the gym to work out. It had been a while since I have been able to get out of the house much. I would normally work out in the mornings but I had an interview to do that day and planned to go afterward. After my interview, I came back to check on Mama before heading to the gym.

It was such a lovely day I threw my boots in the car in case we had time afterward to see Smokey. When we got to the gym, the ARC trainers were both free. I planned to do a 200 calorie burn. As Brian got used to the ARC, he felt it right away – he could tell it was a challenging workout! After he finished what he wanted to do, he went to the machines while I met my calorie-burn quota. I had burned 310 calories before stopping.

When I went to the machines, the gym got busier with members I knew well. It was good to see them, but as I introduced them to Brian and chatted with them a while, I was not getting much of a workout in. I had hoped to run on the treadmill before leaving, but we were running out of time. My best friend Susan came and I was delighted to introduce her to Brian and chat a while with her. Susan has a boyfriend too and our girl time that we used to have has been limited.

I wished I could have talked with her longer and I also wished I had longer to work out. I wanted to get to Smokey before the sun went down, so after Susan and I visited for a while, Brian and I headed out that way.

The last time I was out at the ranch, it was cooler weather. I don’t like when I let too much time pass before getting out there. I had some peppermint treats for Smokey and I put on my boots. Brian still had his tennis shoes on so I asked him if he wanted me to get Smokey from the pasture or if he wanted to come along. The pastures are way out and Smokey is usually off to himself away from the other horses (he is a people-horse).

Brian said that he would go with me, so I took Smokey’s lead rope and we headed out to find him. Hidden Hills used to have a board that told what pasture the herds were in, but I hadn’t seen that the last few times I had been. I wanted to see him so bad that I didn’t care how many pastures I had to walk through! Since I didn’t get to run on the treadmill, this would be more exercise.

When Brian and I came to the first field, I saw three dark horses in the herd. Surely one of them would be Smokey. We traipsed through the pasture that still held water from the rain we had been having. Dodging mud holes was easy at first until we got to the middle of the field. It was pretty muddy and our feet were sinking up to our ankles. I felt bad for Brian in his tennis shoes and I told him, he could go back and I would keep going.

Brian’s attitude did not surprise me. We are so much alike, both having that playful – seize-the-moment mentality and he just laughed and said that he was fine. The mud was sloshing, squishing and thud-dunking each step we took. Brian did not seem worried about his shoes at all - instead he took the opportunity to make me laugh. “Now we are really pulling cows out of the mud!”

Though there were not cows in this field it was so funny, as I listened to our steps and realized it really did sound a lot like our kissing moments. I was laughing so much that I could not find the drier patches of grass, I just tried to keep high-stepping it across the pasture as my legs went limp from laughing so hard.

The first two dark horses were not Smokey. The other dark horse was far across the pasture past more muddy holes so I suggested we try to find him in the other pasture. We did our best to cross back across on the dryer sections, but our ankles were already forming a hardened, beauty mud pack that salons would charge for.

The next pasture didn’t look like Smokey’s herd. A few horses came up to us and we petted them but I knew that Smokey was probably the one stubborn horse in the other field that was far out across the mud, so we headed back to that one. I wasn’t going to give up now that we had worked up a sweat. Smokey had moved closer in the pasture so the second time it was easier to get to him.

As soon as I got up close enough, I started singing to him. When he came to me and my hand touched him, I knew it was Smokey. He looks darker in the winter and now he was getting his ‘suntan’ with a little henna in his coat. When I don’t go out often, it is hard to tell which one he is until I get right up on him. He didn’t forget me though. He knew me! He nuzzled me and loved me. I introduced him to Brian, and Brian gave him a few treats. Smokey had already taken to him though. He bowed his head, relaxed his feet and I could tell he was comfortable with Brian.

It was important that my sons liked Brian when they had met him, but it was also important that Smokey approved! Smokey usually has a grazing muzzle on in the summer to keep him from getting too fat and it has a loop where I would hook the lead rope and take him back to the barn to groom him. He didn’t have it on this time and I had not brought his bridal so I wouldn’t get to treat him to a massage and grooming back at the barn, so this day would just be a ‘pasture visit’.

I scratched his back and his belly and rubbed him and hugged him. I had missed him so much! I checked his feet and they looked healthy, but I really wanted to un-cake all the mud from his hooves. It was getting late in the day and Brian and I needed to head back anyway, so we said goodbye to Smokey and Smokey began to follow us. I had to tell him bye with a big wave and gave him a nod to go back to the pasture. Leaving a beautiful horse like Smokey feels just like leaving a child when you take him to school - you just don’t want to be apart!

With life’s unexpected financial turns, I knew buying Smokey was not something I could hope for anymore. Besides, his owner was really enjoying him again. She had dealt with a lot of health problems when I was able to take care of Smokey before, but now she was better. I am just fortunate that she still lets me visit with him and love him. She has always been great about sharing him with me. Smokey came into my life years ago when I really needed him and I will never forget this horse as long as I live.

The love he has shown me could never be matched …until now. But it’s a different love. Smokey has been like a guardian angel to me during some of the most painful times in my life. Those days are long gone and now I have the love of my life with me. I will always love Smokey, but Brian is the one man I have been able to trust to love me – truly love me. I didn’t have to lose my “Eat Pray Love” weight first that I put on in New York. I didn’t have to have a job where I made a lot of money. I didn’t have to drive a fancy car or be in my twenties. I just had to be me.

Brian and I petted a few of the horses in the barn and I petted Ruger, the horse I ride during the horseback riding outings that Melissa leads. Brian went to the bathing area for the horses and hosed down all the ankle-deep mud from his shoes and legs. I kicked off my boots and walked barefoot back to the car.

As Brian and I anticipate the future, we know to enjoy ‘the right now’ part of our relationship. We are making memories. When we got in the car, Brian leaned over to kiss me and once again …we were pulling cows out of the mud.


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