Friday, December 5, 2008

Andi Carter . . . Me!

I guess I should start off by telling you about myself. My real name is Andrea Rose Carter, but please don't call me that! Only my mother and my teacher call me "Andrea." When I hear that name, I figure I'm in trouble. And it sounds like such a ladylike name. I'm much more suited to "Andi." My brothers and sisters, all the ranch hands, and my friends call me "Andi." I know, I know, it sounds like a boy's name (Andy), but that doesn't bother me, even though sometimes I get teased about it.

OK, let's see. I was born on May 28, 1868, a few weeks early, so I was awfully tiny. My mother and father worried that I might not make it, but my brother Justin told me I cried so loudly that he had no doubts I'd kick and scream my way into a long life. I have long, wavy dark hair and blue eyes. When I was little, I got tired of my hair getting in my way, so I cut it off. I'll never do that again (I got my backside tanned good and proper when my mother found out what I'd done). Along with a California tan (since I have a hard time remembering to keep my hat on), a few pesky freckles sprinkle my nose. My sister Melinda says it's my own fault--I could avoid the freckles and the sunburns if I wore my hat. I don't listen to her much.

Besides riding and racing my horse, Taffy, I like to fish. I try really hard to do the right thing, but I'm always plunging into some kind of problem because I don't think things through before I act. I get caught up in the excitement of life or with helping someone, and before I know it I'm in a fix. My brother Chad is always pulling me out of some kind of trouble, and it riles him. He and I don't get along very well. He thinks he's my boss.

My father was thrown from his horse and killed during roundup the spring when I turned five years old. I'll never forget it. I was so sad. But my mother and my brothers (especially Justin) stepped in, and I eventually got on with life. Chad gave me Taffy for my sixth birthday, and that really helped, too.

I don't like doing chores (who does?), but the ranch can't run itself. Sometimes I wonder why I have to clean my room and muck out Taffy's stall when we have dozens of hired hands, but I guess my mother has her reasons. I think she wants me to learn to be responsible. I used to wish I were free, instead. If you've read about my first adventure in Long Ride Home, you'll understand when I say that freedom isn't much fun when you don't have anybody to love. Now I think I'd rather be responsible.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Brother Justin

Justin is my oldest brother. He's strong and smart, and he can do anything. Mostly he's real good at helping me get out of fixes. While Chad delights in running the ranch, Justin would rather use his head than do routine ranch work, so he decided to become a lawyer. And he's the best lawyer in the state . . . well . . . in our part of the valley at least. But just because he'd rather be off helping the governor of California than branding calves doesn't mean he can't round up cattle as good as the next man. Like I said, he can do anything he sets his mind to. Some folks say he can even talk a fence post out of the ground, but I haven't seen that happen yet.

Justin has black hair and blue eyes, just like Chad and me. I sure wish he was home more often. Since our father died, Justin has stepped in and taken me sort of "under his wing," I reckon. If Chad tells me to do something, I think he's bossing me. But if Justin tells me to do the same thing, I just go do it. Like I said, he can talk anybody into doing just about anything. (Don't tell the others, but Justin is my favorite brother)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Brother Chad

My big brother Chad has one ambition: to run the Circle C ranch. He loves horses and is the best horseman in the entire Valley. He's a year younger than Justin, but he's the one who's definitely in charge of the ranch (Justin likes to do his lawyer stuff more than rope cattle). Chad was really upset when Father died, because he looked up to him. He wanted to have many more years working alongside him before having to shoulder all the responsibility. Luckily, our long-time foreman, Sid McCoy, helped Chad through the transition from a son to being in charge.

Chad has black hair and blue eyes, and he's pretty tall--about six feet. He thinks he knows everything, and tries to tell me what to do all the time. That makes him bossy, and I don't like it at all. He's got himself a temper, and I've been on the receiving end of it more than once. I sometimes feel that I can't do anything right. He's got no patience for work sloppily done or not done at all, and a cowhand caught mistreating a horse is sent packing, along with a few scorching words from the "boss."

But Chad has his secret, kind side. Behind his quick tongue, he really does have a tender heart. After all, he went out of his way to give me Taffy, and he was mighty patient when we were raising her. I've seen him carry a newborn calf just as tenderly as a mother would hold her baby. And he is funny, too. He knows how to make me laugh when I'm feeling down.

All in all, I wouldn't trade him for any other brother. I know it's partly my fault for getting him riled up on occasion. I guess we're too much alike. I think he yells at me sometimes because he's just downright worried about me getting into another fix. I love him a lot!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Brother Mitch

Mitch's real name is Mitchell, but nobody calls him that, not even my mother (which makes me
wonder why she won't call me "Andi" instead of "Andrea," but some things are not to be questioned, I reckon). Mitch is the youngest of my three older brothers, and he's just plain fun to be around. He's easygoing, and happy to let Chad boss the ranch. But he's a hard worker. Mitch gets along with everybody--even Chad--but sometimes I think he favors me. If I need somebody to do my chores for me in a pinch, I ask Mitch. He hardly ever says no, and he never bosses me.

Racing the iron horse. Bad choice, Mitch!

Mitch is tall, blond, and outgoing. His horse Chase is the fastest horse in the valley. He once even beat the train to a crossing. He really caught trouble for that little stunt!

Mitch has heaps of friends, and there are plenty of young ladies in town who'd like to be his friend, too. He's very loyal to his friends, which once got him and Chad into a knock-down, drag-out fight. Chad said something bad about someone Mitch admired, and Chad wouldn't take it back. It worked out all right in the end, and Chad and Mitch shook hands and made up, but it's something to see when an easygoing fellow gets pushed over the line!

Monday, December 1, 2008

My Sister Melinda

Melinda Jane is not as fun to be around as she used to be. Even two years ago she and I raced our horses, climbed trees, and fished together for hours on end. Then, all of a sudden it seems, Melinda grew up. Oh sure, she still likes to ride her horse Pandora (Panda for short), but it's not the same as it was before.

Melinda's turned into what folks call a "young lady." She's suddenly discovered corsets, Godey's Lady's Book, and social events in town. Her golden hair is always in place, and she never trips and falls into the horse trough or is late for meals. Melinda's never in a hurry, and she always thinks things through before she makes a decision. She enjoys learning how to run a house. It's not that I don't want to learn those things, it's just that going on a cattle drive sounds like a heap more fun right now than sewing a new dress. In spite of all this, I really do look up to my sister, and we get along pretty well.

Recently, it appears that the young men of Fresno have figured out Melinda's grown up. They think she's charming. I've seen a few of them make fools of themselves when they come calling, trying to win her attention. It doesn't help that my brothers mill about whenever Melinda has a gentleman caller. It seems to make the fellas mighty uncomfortable, but it makes me laugh.