I have a tendency to forget things. Birthdays, anniversaries, milk at the grocery store, my kid at the babysitter. (Although, in my defense, it wasn’t usually my job to pick him up, and I was as shocked as my husband when I got home from work and the boy wasn’t there.) My husband cannot use this particular failing of mine as a basis for divorce. He got to experience it first hand long before we went on our first date.
I moved to Aberdeen, South Dakota in the fall, and rented an apartment in town. When spring rolled around, I hauled my horses out from Montana and found a place in the country to board them. Just down the road there was a dandy twenty acre pasture, complete with a two stall, lean to barn, an old moving van for a tack room, and a nineteen-sixties single wide mobile home in powder blue.
And it was unoccupied.
I immediately tracked down the owner and persuaded him to rent me the whole works for a hundred dollars a month. I thought I was getting a heck of a bargain. Then I went in the house. Suffice to say, I thought long and hard about moving into the barn.
But I was determined to have my very own country estate, so I persevered. I managed to make the old blue trailer house almost habitable. At least the mice seemed to think so. And my horses loved the pasture, even if they did have to share it with a dozen replacement heifers the owner had hauled in. We were set.
I’d been there all of a week when I came home from work one night and took the horses out for a ride. My acreage was one corner of a hundred and sixty acre quarter section that was mostly planted to corn. As were most of the fields on every side. I’d never lived in corn country, and I thought the rows and rows of six foot tall stalks were pretty cool. So I went out the back gate of my pasture to ride along the edge.
Except I couldn’t get the gate shut. The owner, being a male, had the tension on the wire gate cranked up a few notches too high for my puny girl muscles. What to do? I could go back to the barn, scrounge up a piece of rope and tie the gate. But the sun was sinking fast, and I was barely going to get a decent ride in before dark as it was. And the heifers were all clear down at the opposite end of the field.
No problem. I’d ride first, then tie up the gate when I got back.
The next morning at work, I got a phone call from the neighbors down the road, where I’d previously boarded my horses.
“Your mares just walked in our yard.”
Uh-oh. I’d gotten a little distracted during my ride, thinking about this and planning that, and circled around and went back to the barn via the front gate. And sort of forgot all about that back gate that I didn’t get shut.
It’s not easy to find a small herd of cattle in hundreds of acres of six foot tall corn. Especially when it’s hot, and the middle of the cornfield provides cool shade and really good chow, all rolled into one. Luckily, it had rained recently, and my landlord was a good tracker. He probably would have been pretty upset if he’d had to pay his cousin to fly him around looking for them like the last time some of his cows got out. As it was, not only did he not evict me immediately, he didn’t even yell at me. And he fixed the gate so it was easier to shut.
I may be forgetful, but I’m not dumb. You find a guy like that, you’d better marry him.