Author needs ranching-related advice - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 08-08-2019, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Author needs ranching-related advice

Hi, I'm an author and awhile back got some great advice on a question regarding horses/ranch life (I understand this is "farming" not ranching, but I believe my question will be a basic generic one that applies to any variation.) I need to know what mistake a young kid, inexperienced around horses, ranches, etc., could make, that would really tick people off and create a lot of extra work for people. The boy will only be 5 or 6 at the time.

The situation is a family dealing with a lot of emotional baggage, things are already raw and sensitive, and this boy is trying to help, but screws up badly. My idea was something along the lines of his forgetting to close a gate or something, horses/animals get out (there are horses, cattle and chickens on this ranch), causing hours of wasted time rounding them up.

Will that work? I just need something simple; it's not a major plot point, just "something that happened" that will cause his grandpa to make an irritated comment that is hurtful to the boy.

Thanks for any advice!
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post #2 of 33 Old 08-08-2019, 05:57 PM
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Almost founder the family horse? (Overfeeding it grain or feed)

Forget to lock the hens up in the hen house? (Thus allowing predators to get at the hens)

What era is this? If in an era of plumbed water sources:

Forget to fill the animal water troughs?

Forget to turn the water OFF thus wasting a lot of water and flooding out a horse pen and causing a soupy muddy mess?

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #3 of 33 Old 08-08-2019, 05:59 PM
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Kid feeds the animals, except it was too much/wrong kind/double feedings.

Waters the garden, but drowns the plants, or the runoff floods and area.

Scares a young/spooky horse someone is working with by trying to help.
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post #4 of 33 Old 08-08-2019, 06:16 PM
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Kid trying to help and do good handles horse who escapes causing expensive damages to others property...

Kid falls off horse he should not of ridden, had no permission to ride and gets hurt.
Farming family loses the use of his labor working the farm for months while he heals...

Kid is injured by animals he should not of been near and gets knocked out...
Suffers lasting brain-damage that now puts a burden on his family forever.

All said...hope this is a story with a better ending than scenarios presented.

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #5 of 33 Old 08-08-2019, 06:26 PM
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Forgetting to close a gate, as was your original idea, is a good one. The animals could get sick from getting into a garden or orchard, cause problems if they get into crops or damage a neighbor's property, etc. Milk cattle that end up down the road or chased by a dog will not give milk well for a few days and for a farm family, depending on the time period, that could be a big loss of income due to milk and cheese and butter being the source of spending money. And every kid who has grown up on a farm or ranch has neglected this task at some point and learned a hard lesson from it.

When my mom was little, she forgot to latch the door on the chicken coop one night and several chickens were killed by a fox or coon. She felt awful, but what really taught her a lesson was that her special chore, tending the chickens, was then given to her sister and she was tasked with doing the dishes after breakfast and supper instead of the far more pleasant task of caring for the hens.
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post #6 of 33 Old 08-08-2019, 07:23 PM
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I think forgetting to close the gate is a good idea, and definitely something that a little kid could mess up, with big consequences. If he forgot to close it at night, those animals could be miles down the road by the time people wake up and realize it. They could be on the highway. They could be injured. Somebody could have taken some of them.

Maybe this kid was trying to help by feeding all of the animals, and he did feed them, but on his way back he got distracted, as little kids will, and forgot to close the gate.
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post #7 of 33 Old 08-08-2019, 07:42 PM
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We once had a poster with a pigeon-killing mare. I can think of ways to modify that narrative to make it an interesting plot event.
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post #8 of 33 Old 08-08-2019, 07:47 PM
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Something not mentioned, thirsting stock.
Animals can go a while without food but no water can mean death in a short amount of time compared to no feed.

Said boy not watering stock that are unable to water themselves from an irrigation ditch/creek/spring. The stock doesn't have to die in the storyline but family gets irritated with stock not being watered because of the possibility of death.
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post #9 of 33 Old 08-08-2019, 11:30 PM
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Forgetting to close a gate is actually an excellent one and one that a young child would probably do, maybe more than once which would really cause a blow up. Just an example of what can happen, I had a mare get injured and needed to be taken to the vet for euthanasia. Evidently a gate between our yearling filly and the stallion got left open, not sure how, he should not have been part of that equation at all. We didn't notice it and went to the vet. Fast forward 11 months and said filly, who's now a 2 year old, gives birth to another filly in a raging storm. Worked out ok, filly ended up healthy and no damage to mother but it could so easily have ended up in a very sad and sorry situation.

Not watering stock. Overfeeding or feeding wrong feed. Let the pigs out in the crops........that's a real disaster.

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post #10 of 33 Old 08-09-2019, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Everyone- thanks so much for these excellent suggestions! I need it to be really simple, and I think leaving a gate open is easily understandable by any I've narrowed it down to two options: 1) he leaves a gate open and a bunch of horses get loose....the hands waste a whole afternoon rounding them up. If that's the case, which gate SPECIFICALLY would he leave open, and how many horses could reasonably get loose?

2) He leaves the hen house open, and a few get out and are eaten by coyotes (?)......I like this option because a kid would presumably feel terrible about causing the death of animals. If I use this option, what EXACTLY would the situation/wording be: For example, "Left the (such and such) open, and the $%$#! (hens?) got out, and we lost (2? 3? 6?) of them!"

Thanks so much in helping me not sound like a duffer......some kids who read the book (It's YA fiction) will be quite familiar w/ranch/farm life and I don't want them thinking "Oh ridiculous......"
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