…Lay Across My Big Grass Bed.
My apologies to Bob Dylan, but how else could I introduce the gentle readers of this blog to Lady (or at least her remains)?
This ranch takes on it’s present form due to the labors of a family I shall call the Farmers. The Farmers built the present day house and most of the outbuildings in 1980. They lived here, working the land, raising cattle and operating a small dairy operation until 1996, when they sold the ranch to other owners.
There are three generations of the Farmer family that lived here. The Farmer parents, the Farmer children, and the Farmer grandchildren. In fact, a Farmer daughter gave birth to a Farmer grandchild right in the master bedroom of this house.
Eventually, we came to purchase this property in 2001. In the course of moving our belongings into the house, I discovered an envelope taped to the underside of a desk drawer. Naturally, curiosity took hold, and I opened the envelope to find a multi-page hand written letter within. The letter was addressed to nobody in particular, and yet was written as if intended for everybody. One of the Farmer grandchildren had penned this letter just prior to moving away from this ranch for good.
As I read this letter, I recall that tears began to well up in my eyes, as it soon became obvious how much this young woman loved both the property and the lifestyle that went along with living here. It was apparent that she leaving the property out of necessity and not choice, which made me feel very bad for this unknown young woman. Somewhere within the text of her open letter, she mentioned the names of various people that had enjoyed life on this ranch, and at one point the name Lady came up. I did not think much of the reference at the time, other than to think that Lady was an unusual name (or nickname) for a person. After sharing the letter that I had found with Retta, I filed it away in a safe place, for posterity’s sake.
Some time later, Retta and I happened to have the opportunity to meet the Farmer family. At our gathering, when we mentioned the existence of the open letter we had found, one of the Farmers inquired as to whether we had discovered letter #2, written by another of the Farmer grandchildren. When we replied that we had not yet found this second letter, they told us where it was located. Just as they had indicated, the letter lay hidden behind the back wall studs of an under-stairs storage closet in the basement. It was so well hidden that we would have never stumbled upon it, had we not been steered in the right direction by the Farmers. The second letter had the same poignient tone as the first letter, and again I found a lump in my throat as I read it’s contents. This second letter also contained a reference to someone named Lady, just as the first letter had.
So that sums up the two open letters that we discovered (with some help, I have to admit). In the meanwhile, shortly after moving here we began an intense exploration of the hills and hollers of this ranch. Along a fence line, in a very remote section of the property, we came upon the skeletal remains of a horse, which seemed to be in fairly good condition. For reasons that I still cannot explain, I felt a desire to bring the horse’s skeletal head over to the house, where we set it among our collection of “yard art.” And there it remained for quite a long time.
Fast forward a couple of years. We received a telephone call from a Farmer grandson, who asked if he could come visit the property and reminisce. We readily agreed, and soon he was hiking and exploring the property he knew so well as a child. As I began to pick his brain for tidbits of information regarding the history of this ranch, I happened to ask him who this “Lady” was, that I had read about in the letters left by his sisters. He explained that Lady was a gentle old nag that was ridden frequently by the Farmer grandchildren, and that when she died in 1994, they placed her carcass in a far corner of the property to decompose, which is where Retta and I found the remains.
Now that we knew the history behind the skeletal remains, and the attachment of the Farmer grandchildren to this nag named Lady, we felt that is was almost sacrilegious to leave her skeletal head among our yard art. So I immediately took the remains out of our yard and returned them to where we had originally found them. The picture above was taken where the bones now lay, in their former location.
What has surprised me is how the bones have been left undisturbed (except for the temporary relocation that we put them through) for such a long period of time. It is twelve years since Lady died, and yet the bones remain in the location where first placed, unchewed and unmolested by the native wildlife.
Whenever we pass by Lady’s remains, we pay our respects, now that we know of her past connection to the originators of this ranch. And I have vowed not to disturb her remains ever again!