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Heather Gates, Ep. HG 8, Diane and Jennifer Discussed An FFA Project For Heather

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

They talked about their breeding plans

A mare and foal

A mare and foal

Thursday afternoon, following Heather’s return from school to the stable

At the stable, Jennifer, Diane and Heather were discussing how they might improve their horse breeding plan at the Stables. Heather was pleased that Diane and Jennifer would include her in such an important discussion. They were talking about how any new plan might, or might not, fit in with their existing plans. They were sitting around the table in the break area. Diane mentioned that in the recent remodeling they had made two of the stalls larger with the thought that they might want to do more regular breeding in the future themselves. Mares giving birth typically needed stalls with more space to have their foals.

“Previously, we have bred a mare when it was convenient and not on a pre-planned basis, maybe we would, maybe we wouldn’t,” Diane said. “Perhaps a plan to have two foals each spring would be a good place to start. Then we could decide to sell one or two each year, and keep one or two each year.” Diane was thinking out loud.

Jennifer picked up the line of thought. “Yes, foaling will take more labor, all around, as well. Starting with two a year seems to be a good plan, to start. Of course, Christopher had us breed Shadow, last month, so she will be the first. We would need to pick one other.”

Heather had been listening and thinking. “I need a new FFA project this coming year. Might it be possible for me to work with each of you to develop a plan, and take responsibility to carry it out yet this fall, next spring and into next year? Jennifer, you did a project like that in high school, didn’t you?”

“I did a cow-calf project for 4-H, and, I did a horse project for FFA. It wasn’t quite this complex, but, yes, it would make a good project. Diane, what do you think?” Jennifer looked pleased with the idea.

“Frankly, it would solve one concern I had that we hadn’t discussed yet – who was going to do the follow-through work on the plan and help keep us on schedule. Who would be responsible? Jennifer and I can each do our parts, but we can’t be thinking about it all the time. We do have other responsibilities that must take first priority – and that wouldn’t work with the breeding plan very well.”

Diane looked at Heather, seriously. “Do you feel you are really up to this?”

Heather responded in kind, “I’m ready to lead the team, if we can work as a team, and you support me. I know you will.”

“We will.” Diane and Jennifer responded, in unison.

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“Then let’s get to work,” Heather replied. “The mares each have at least two more cycles yet this fall, for breeding. Jennifer, do you think Sunshine is ready?”

Sunshine was a palomino four-year old mare that traced back to Diane’s favorite saddle horse mare, Marilyn, from years past, that she still rode today. Thirteen or fourteen years old, no longer breeding. Sunshine had become Heather’s favorite in the last couple of years.

Jennifer responded, “I can certainly check her out, to be sure. What do you think, Diane? Is Sunshine a good candidate?”

“Yes, I tend to agree. She should be ready to breed this year. Can we get some palomino semen to keep the line clean?”

Jennifer looked to Heather, “I’ll work with Heather to accomplish that… it is now part of her plan and responsibility, I believe. Correct?”

“Correct. I’ll get to work on the plan. Anything else?” Heather was about to jump out of the chair she was sitting on.

“Move ahead with planning,” Diane added, “but let’s talk some more before we take any serious actions. Caution is still our watchword, and it applies here as well. You get to work on the

plan as we seek alternatives. I think it is a go, but a ‘go slowly’ not ‘a jump in with both feet without thinking,’ ok?

“Agreed. OK!” Heather replied.

“Yes, good approach.” Jennifer concurred.

This is story is a part of "The Homeplace Saga"

The iconic barn image of "The Homeplace Saga" stories

The iconic barn image of "The Homeplace Saga" stories

Paul and Heather talked more about his family

Thursday evening, Paul and Heather spent a few minutes talking about family history again. Paul said that he had written some things down including his full name along with his parents, Brock Gates and Inez Katz. He also had written down birthdays, where they were each born and what little he knew of their marriage. He said the only documents he had were birth certificates for himself and his three children, his two marriage certificates, his two divorces and a copy of an obituary for his father. He had forgotten he had that. It was not lengthy, he added, but it might be helpful. He had made copies for Heather to use and handed them to her in a folder.

“It is not much,” he said, “But at least it will get you started, if and when you decide you can spend some time on it. Do all your homework first, of course!”

“Of course, Dad, you know I will.”

They talked about their family tree

A typical family tree in graphic form

A typical family tree in graphic form

Jennifer talked with Heather about the information Paul had shared

After all the work was done at the stables late Friday afternoon, Jennifer and Heather agreed that they had some time available to talk some more about the Gates family history. Heather checked with Paul, and he agreed she could eat supper with Jennifer but reminded her to get back to the Cottage by dark. The days were still long and the weather was good, so it gave them a good amount of time to eat and work together.

Jennifer showed Heather the PAF program on her computer, and opened a new file for the Gates family, starting off with Brock, Inez, Paul, Beverly, Scott and Heather. She also printed off two family group sheets and a pedigree chart for Heather to have for reference and on which to hand write additional information as it became available. That new data would be added to the computer program later. They also entered actual birthdates and places for Paul, Beverly, Scott and Heather. Brock’s birthdate and place were on the obituary: 12 January 1910, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Paul thought Inez was the same age, so they entered 1910 for her, but left the place blank. Jennifer said there was a good chance that she could find Brock in the 1910 census that would have been taken mid-year. Perhaps she could also find Inez, since both her first and last names were fairly distinctive. If she could, that would likely give them the names, approximate ages, and places of birth of the four grandparents, with any luck at all.

With the copy of the birth certificate for Sheila, they were able to enter Paul’s first marriage, the data for his first wife, and Sheila as well. They then also printed out that Family Group Sheet for Heather. They then went carefully through each of the documents they had, making note that they had entered everything they now knew. They also began to create a To Do List of questions that arose from their document review. They agreed that though tedious, it was really fun. The To Do List already exceeded ten items by the time Heather had to head home.

[Continued in Episode HG 9]

Author’s Note

This series of stories in the life of Heather Gates, a fictional character in The Homeplace Saga series of family saga, historical fiction stories (home blog found at thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com), is being created as a way to use a minor character in the early writings to expand those stories and share details omitted in those earlier writings within the original overarching themes. These newly included details may have been left out of the earlier stories through editing or they may have seemed unrelated to central themes at the time. With the expansion of the entire Saga, over the years, it has become obvious that filling in some of the gaps in the story for overall better understanding of the individuals, their families, and their interactions would be useful to The Homeplace Saga body of work in total. These episodes parallel the timeline of “The Homeplace Revisited” novel in this series.

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer


William Leverne Smith (author) from Hollister, MO on May 07, 2018:

Dora, I suspect you have put your finger on the heart of these stories. What fun! Team work is effective, for sure! Thanks for your visit and comment! ;-)

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 07, 2018:

Family history and horses, and everyone's involved. The team work is really admirable.

William Leverne Smith (author) from Hollister, MO on May 01, 2018:

Yes, they are important programs in the development of young people in rural areas. Have been for many years. I enjoy watching them work, including county and state fairs participation, as well as state and national convention participation. Real growth there! ;-)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 01, 2018:

FFA and 4H....two programs which are staples in the Midwest. They exist here but not at that level....and I hope that changes soon. They are, in my opinion, extremely important programs.

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