The Old Sleigh

Of all days for the truck to break down, Liam grumbled to himself. The coldest day of the season so far, and the only way to get the feed out was Gramps old wooden sleigh. Good thing he hadn’t sold Trix and Mule like he’d planned. The fat things were about to earn their keep again, at least for today.

Sakes! Those buckles were a job and a half! Trix danced sideways as the cold metal dangled against her coat, almost yanking Liam off his feet as he fumbled to connect the the stupid things. He shook his fist at her after he recovered his balance, and moved around to hitch Mule beside her. Even in his work gloves his fingers ached with cold, and his boots felt like ice blocks chained to his legs.

Why on earth did Gramps insist on using this old relic every year? The first thing Liam had done when Gramps died last year was buy a new truck; he’d been bucking for it for years but Gramps wasn’t having it. Liam managed to hook the last of the buckles to the sleigh and hung onto the reins as he clambered awkwardly into the front seat.

“Now to load up the bales,” he said aloud, as if it mattered. Mule, as usual refused to respond to the reins, and he ground his teeth. Stubborn animal. Gramps had always laughed and hollered affectionately at the dappled gelding, but Mule wouldn’t start without a feedbag of oats strapped on his face. It was Gram’s fault; Gramps had always said she spoiled that horse. Liam really didn’t have time for this, but he clambered back down and went for the oats.Oats.

It was Gram he thought of as he drove the team through the trees to the upper pasture. And it was Gram’s memory that stopped him at the crest of the hill, looking down at the little house and barn. Gone for ten years, she was the soul of the place, and even Mule knew it. Guess there was something to be said for Gramps’ hard head after all.

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