In a Sow’s Ear |

In a Sow’s Ear

The Family Reunion was held at the Mabel and Phineas Patriarch Ranch and included relatives on both his and her sides. Talk about a multitude ” they were so numerous, they could have formed their own country. Mabel and Phineas had produced four children, now grown and married with offspring of their own.

In her own immediate family Mabel had six siblings while Phineas grew up with seven brothers and sisters. All these individuals had married and spawned progeny in abundance which meant the reunion included hordes of cousins plus swarms of grandkids from cradle size to toddler-in-diaper size to just-lost-a-front-tooth size and on up.

A Family Reunion requires top organizational skills. Not to worry. Mabel has had years of cooking mountains of food for haying and branding crews, coordinating children’s various school activities, keeping track of ear-tag numbers and which bovine goes with which number and whether said critter is of the steer, heifer or cow persuasion ” to mention a few of her skills.

But Mabel wasn’t into becoming a martyr or a saint or everybody’s perfect grandma. She hired a caterer. To seat the throng for dining, Mabel set up tables and chairs in the kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, front porch, side porch and arranged picnic tables in the yard.

For the flocks of tots, she took down the bed in the downstairs spare room and installed a bunch of small tables, benches, chairs and boxes of kid toys. The kidlets would be free to be rowdy, the room had its own a bathroom, there were two cots for any child who needed to zonk out in a nap, and an exit door opened into a fenced-in grassy yard.

The moms and dads relaxed knowing their small darlings were contained but having a good time. The kidlets had no trouble having fun. Some made Crayola drawings, some dressed up in costumes, some tossed balls, some played board games. A couple of third-graders had sword fights using rubber swords ” well, most of the boys and two of the girls did. Others decided they were cowboys and cowgirls and rode stick horses lickety split around the yard.

Sadie the Sheepdog was in heaven. She loves kids. Her black and white body went into warp speed trying to keep up with every child who might throw a ball or a stick for her to chase.  As the afternoon wore on and energies flagged, fewer and fewer balls or sticks were tossed for Sadie’s entertainment. She tail-wagged from group to group, to little person to little person. She was ignored.

About then some moms rounded up a dozen or so wee ones and toted them inside for cleanups, diaper checking and general maintenance care. Sadie followed and laid down just inside the door. When all 12 younguns had been shined up, the moms parked each one in a little chair, then left to gather up food to bring back. They put Wendy, the 5-year-old, in charge.

“You’re the big girl here, Wendy,” said one mom. “We’ll be back in two shakes with food. Try to keep everybody calm.”

Wendy, a ranch child, was used to sorting critters. She nodded. The moms left. The dozen freshly cleaned toddlers grew restless. Wendy was firm. “Stay,” she told little Stanley when he started to slide off his chair.

Near the door, Sadie the Sheepdog’s head came up, ears pricked.

Wendy’s charges started to rebel. They giggled, they debarked from their chairs and began a toddler footrace. That’s when Sadie took charge. She drove them to a corner where they bunched. Little Lucy, a 2-year-old, made a move to the left. Sadie jumped at her and licked her in the face. Little Larry, 3 years old, dodged right. Sadie gave him the same slobber-in-the-face treatment. She had the wee ones pinned and pinned they remained.

“Good dog,” said Wendy as the moms returned bearing sustenance.


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