Well, that’s what our travels are all about! Here’s the story…
During a motel break in Helena, Montana, as we rested from all the tent camping of our travels, the time came for me to dye the gray roots of my hair. After numerous calls, I found Daisy of “Hair Affair,” who would be happy to pick up the special product I needed and do the job.
Her shop was located outside of town, down a long, flat stretch of road that included other, more industrial types of businesses.
While my hair marinated in dye, we chatted, first about Helena, and then Montana. Daisy laughed and said, “Can you believe this is our capital? It’s so small!” She dispensed many tips on where to go and what to see in Montana.
On her wall were photos of her kids, mostly at rodeo, riding horses and roping calfs. The boys were seven and nine, and the girl was four. I was really impressed and had to remind myself again that Montana is mostly about hunting, fishing, and ranching. The people here are outdoorsy and tough. And also very friendly.
“Oh, they’re all in 4H and have been doing rodeos since they were little,” Daisy said.
I point to the photo of her four-year-old on a horse.
“Even your daughter rides?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah. She’s got her own horse, too. Star.”
I told her about how my almost four-year-old, Lily, fell in love with horses when she visited some stables in Switzerland. That in fact she loves animals, all kinds.
“Well, if you’re interested, you can bring her and your son over to my house one evening to see our animals,” Daisy said. Turns out, Daisy has six horses, two cows and some pigs.
The next day, I took Daisy up on her offer and drove the family to her house. When we arrived, Daisy wasn’t home yet, but her husband was there shoving hay bales into the cows’ pen. Two young boys, her sons, were sitting atop their horses along with a girl, Brianna, also on a horse. Brianna’s parents were sitting on a hay bale, chatting. Very sweetly, the boys invited us to pet their horses before they went to Grandma’s house, which wasn’t far; you could see it across Daisy’s open property.
After the horses, we checked out the cows and let the pigs smell our hands. The pigs were covered in mud, and we learned from Daisy later that mud is good sunscreen for them, but she puts sunscreen on them anyway, as one of the pigs was competing in an upcoming show.
“Don’t get too close to them,” Daisy’s husband warned. “One of them’s going to become bacon soon. …Hey, someone in the family has to remain detached.”
Daisy arrived to help show us around, and then her daughter Lydia emerged from her nap, dressed all in purple and wearing cowboy boots. Her hair was bright blond and cut short. “She took the scissors to it,” Daisy explained, “So we had to cut.”
Daisy brought out Lydia’s horse, Star, and let both Lily and Julien ride her, with Lydia leading them around the house by the reins. We learned that Star is a gentle, old horse they sometimes call the babysitter.
“Once Lydia fell down, and Star came over and stood by protecting her until someone came to help. Star adores Lydia.”
Lydia rode in circles around the house for a bit, and I was impressed with how her little legs thumped against the sides of Star to make her go. Such a confident rider and she was only four years old!
Then Daisy’s husband had the idea to let Julien ride by himself. He gave Julien the reins and a quick lesson, and off Julien went, slowly, carefully, down a stretch.
We left with both kids in a dream state, wanting us to pause our travels, get a ranch, and buy some horses for them. We stopped at the Grub Stake restaurant near Daisy’s house for a fabulous dinner among the local crowd, then drove back to the motel.
I can’t think of a better way for the kids to learn about a place and its people than through experiences like these.
Thank you, Daisy and family, for opening your home to us!