Deer and Mash


ohls_icon.jpg colton_icon.jpgteagan_icon.jpg


* Segenam

Summary: Colton runs into Arden at the stables. Lady Fitzgerald is introduced. Dinner follows.

Date: 5 February 1884.

Deer and Mash

Epona Stables

Colton pushes up the big door to the stables and walks in. He passes the rows of stalls, stopping to put his hand on the nose of a red roan, before moving along.

It's mostly still and quiet, back in the rear of the stables, in the few stalls left empty in this heavy winter. But at least one of the formerly vacant stalls is filled, a white head peeking out from over the top of the gate, before it withdraws, a huff and a rustle as the appaloosa settles onto what sounds and smells like fresh hay. A familiar voice speaks in unfamiliar words, breaking the stillness a second time, and there's the sound of metal on metal over by the small area set aside for coffee and short meals.

Colton smiles slightly as he spots the horse. He moves towards the stall, "Well look there…You did make it." He slows to a stop near the stall, "Maam? You in there?"

The stallion, nickers, tossing his head as the Sheriff arrives at his home, as it were, and moves over to the door, attempting to nose the man in the shoulder, snuffling curiously. Food? No, no food. Arden's voice calls out from just a short distance away, "Over here, Sheriff." She's in the cooking area, apparently doing two things at once. Heating water for Seg's mash and cooking something in a covered small pot. The smell of coffee covers most of it, but it certainly smells interesting, "Something to drink?"

Colton blinks in surprise, and moves over towards the fires, "There ye are Maam." He touches the brim of his hat, "Good to see ye again." He glances back as the door open, and he reaches for his hat again, "Lady Fitzgerald… Someone I want ye to meet Maam.. Over here."

Teagan walks into the stables, her step slow as she notes things with a critical eye, looking for any abbherations which would need to be fixed in the near future. Hearing the rustling of the hay, she looks about, her eyes training on the two in the stables, "Sheriff! A pleasure." An elegant nod is offered to the woman accompanying him.

Arden looks over towards the sound of the Sheriff's approach, a spoon stirring the coffee grounds, just enough to get them to settle, before she reaches for the pot of hot water on the sturdy little camp stove, pulling it off of the hot plate and over to a slightly warm one to set. "And you, Sheriff." She steps away from the stove, tucking the scrap of wool into a pocket of her toolbelt. Seg, impatient for his dinner, rustles his door, and for a moment, Arden switches back to Cree, repeating in her softly accented English to avoid being rude, "It's coming, lazy." The new arrival then receives her full attention, Arden offering a polite nod in her direction, and a hand, after she brushes some bits of oat from it on her leather apron, "Arden Ohls."

Colton steps back, "Lady Fitzgerald.. This is Arden Ohls.. Miss Ohls.. Lady Fitzgerald.. She's the owner of this stables. " He nods over to Teagan, "She's a smithy.. Tryin to get word on that blacksmith forge down the street.. Says she vets too.. We'll need good smith work when the herd gets here."

Teagan's gaze once more rests on the woman once her hand is briefly taken. Her eyes shift to her partner as he explains her presence in the stables, a simple "ah" is her response. "The hand accompanying the livestock from Boston indicated the storm has passed, so he believes over St. Louis and he will proceed when you give the word, Sheriff." A passing smile hovers near the smithy. "I did speak with Moses and he seemed to concur with your assessment with Miss Ohls, as well."

Colton looks back to Ohls, "You met 'ol Moses did ye?"

Arden's handshake is firm, businesslike, her hands calloused from rough work, and politely withdrawn, before she moves to finish mixing the stallion's mash. Some wheat bran, processed barley and oats, which seems to have been premeasured, into a bucket before she goes to retrieve the hot water, "Most of my work the last few years has been smithing and farrier work, so yes, I'm looking to take over the smithy, unless someone beats me too it," is her answer to the introduction, but the last, "I'm sorry, I haven't met anyone named Moses." That to the Sheriff, as she pours the water, using a clean ladle to blend the mix together.

Teagan says, "I did." Her smile is sweetly indulgent, "A kind man who is ready to make certain we are taken care of. You made a lasting impression on him, Sheriff and he did recall Miss Ohls. Is there anything that needs tending to here? She slowly looks around and stepping towards a low slung slat on moves to inspect it."

Colton nods slowly, "Moses rides for the Epona Miss Arden…" He nods over to Teagan, "I think we're doin alright. If Miss Arden here is willin once she gets her shop set up. We should sit down and work a good exchange for her to come out the ranch and do the shoein."

"Or the horses could be brought in, depends on whether you want them cold shoed or hot. Cold's cheaper and faster, hot costs more, but the shoes fit the horse better. You're less likely to have a horse lose a shoe if it's done hot. Doesn't look as if the last smith made his forge portable, but I have to get a good look in there to see." Arden finished adding the hot water, and then pours a small amount of molasses, before she adds cold water to get the temperature down, "Just Arden. Or Ohls, if you feel that's too familiar. And I look forward to meeting him."

Colton nods, "Well we can see about gettin you a fire set up out there… Give ye a hand to stoke it, and work bellows if we have to.. That make it easier?"

Arden carries the bucket over, and away from the cooking area, a tip of her head indicating for you to come with her, "You might be thinking about setting one up all the time, keep it covered over when you don't need it, and have supplies ready to get it going again when you do. If it's a big ranch, might be to your benefit. But that would make it easier for me to work. Just make sure it's outdoors, or well ventilated. Not many people take well to the smell of a hot shoe and fire's always a risk. Even some horses don't abide it well." The mash is poured into Seg's feeding tray, before she steps back and sets down the bucket.

Colton nods, "You think you'd be able to line us out.. Show us what we need? I can't get it built.. I need to know what to build though." He follows her over to the stall, and watches as she feeds her animal.

"Sure, I can give you a simple setup you can use out there. I think some of my father's old h=journals might have some layouts he used to work with for traveling." Arden reaches out a hand, stroking Seg's neck as the stallion bends down to eat, "How many heads of horses are you keeping at the ranch? The ones you have coming in included?"

Colton says, "We got just a few right now… But I expect 20 or more come spring, and we'll go after mustangs.. Buy or round up.. Try to get 100 head or more before summer.. Then breed 'em, while he start tradin.""

"Might do you well to get a bit of both. The wild one are gonna give you better hooves and stronger horses, so they can add quite a bit to any breeding stock. Depending on how they're raised, bought horses can lessen your stock. Can't always tell what you're buying. And if you get a dealer who thinks his horses are superior, the stud fees might be quite high." Arden moves to the water spigot, washing out the bucket, before she uses it to carry fresh water back to the stall. Talking, moving working, she seems to do them all at once as a matter of course.

Colton shakes his head, "We got our own studs comin.. From back east. We get 'em crossed with the mustangs.. We're gonna have some fine stock." He leans against the next stall and watches, "Might be able to buy some wild mustangs.. That'd make it faster.. Otherwise.. We'll have to go round 'em up."

"And faster is better?" It's a simple question, and simply asked. There's no hint of an argument in it. Just curiosity. After all, she doesn't know the workings of the ranch. "If there are native people's near town, you might see about finding out if they'd be willing to work with you on that. Set up a good system of trade." Which is certainly needed in any place, not just Silver Creek.

Colton shrugs, "I aim to start a horse ranch.. Faster will help.. You can't start without the stock."

"And you can't maintain a good horse ranch without good stock. if you can get that fast, that's a good thing, if it takes time, sometimes that needs to happen too." A shake of her head, as Arden finishes tending the appaloosa, and steps out of the stall, "But that seems to be your business and your Lady Fitzgerald, so I won't stick my oar in." She walks back towards the cooking area, "You had dinner yet, Sheriff?"

Colton shakes his head, "No Maam… I ain't."

"well, then pull up a chair, and I'll fix you something." She heads back to the small stove, putting aside the coffee to cool, having now steeped long enough, and she uncovers the pot. with the coffee no longer brewing, you can smell it, rich and spicy, "I'm going to assume you don't mind deer meat." She allows it to simmer while she goes to her packs, pulling out what must be a load of bread, wrapped in a simple towel. "Too bad I don't have any fresh eggs."

Colton smiles slightly, and walks over to find a spot on the floor, with his back to a stall, "Thats might kind of ye Maam.. I don't want to take food from yer mouth…." He sniffs the air, "Deer.. I ain't had deer…. In a long time."

"You're only taking what I am freely offering, Sheriff. I won't be any less for it. And I'd be glad for the company. Still getting used to eating alone." The bread is carried back to the small work area next to the stove and unwrapped, cut into manageable chunks, which she leaves in the cloth, not having brought many food utensils. She does have two sets of bowls, however, and spoons, into which she spoons two generous servings of stew, the remainder set aside to keep warm for seconds. She carries the bread over first, setting it next to you, and then the stew yours first, and then hers and she settles across from you, "Nothing fancy, I'm afraid, just an old recipe, some spices, deer I salted just before the winter set in." There do seem to be some parsnips also, onions. "Please eat."

Colton picks up his bowl, and nods once, "Much obliged Maam…" He lifts a spoonfull of his stew, and eats it. He grins, and gestures to the bowl with his empty spoon, "You did really good." He looks over to her, "I thought you had someone with ye… Did I jest imagine that?"

"Thank you for the compliment, Sheriff." Arden sets into her own meal, eating slowly, enjoying the flavour, or the warmth. It definitely fits into the comfort food category. She does take a piece of bread as well, "No, it's just me and Seg. My father passed about…well, I suppose it'll be two years now come the end of spring."

Colton nods slowly, listening as he eats, "What brung ye this far south?"

"We'd been traveling for a while, seeing new places, I suppose. After my father died, I suppose I just kept going. Didn't have any real need to head back to Quebec, and there's always places that are in need of someone with my skills."

Colton nods slowly. He falls silent for a few moments until he swallows. He looks over to her, "Must of been hard to lose 'im.. so far from home?"

Arden considers, pausing between spoonfuls, "Far from the tribe, yes, I suppose. But he was a frenchman, and I've never met his family. I don't know if he even has any back in France. He never much spoke of them. And we left Quebec almost 6 years ago now, after my mother died. So home has been wherever we were for a long time. I miss them, but I know they will be there when I finally get back."

Colton leans back against the outer side of the wall, "Sounds like a long time to be away. I reckon I can understand about the saddle bein home though."

Arden nods, setting her spoon into her bowl to sop some of the gravy with her bread, "We were always busy, and time passes. But I've enjoyed seeing this country, and meeting its people. Most of them at least. I have to admit…I am not used to the…hatred some people have here. Perhaps that's why you find so many people from all over out here in the far reaches."

Colton shrugs, and leans back a little, picking up his bread, "Not jest that.. Its wide open out here. You can start from scratch.. Folks take ye for what ye do.. Not who you were."

"But they still do occasionally judge you for what you are, don't they?" Arden takes a bite of the bread, another, before she settles in to finish the last of the stew in her bowl, "Is it impolite to ask you how you ended up becoming the sheriff in town, on top of your other employment?"

Colton shrugs, and shakes his head, "I don't reckon.. I was the only one that would take it.. Silver Springs is hard on lawmen.. They ain't had one in a long time. Some of 'em 'as been killed or worse."

"Well, from what I've seen, I think the town is better off for having you." She unfolds herself from the ground, walking over to wash up her bowl and spoon, "If you want some more, there's plenty."

Colton pushes himself up off the floor and takes his bowl to the pot. He doles out another couple of bites onto his piece of bread, and nods several times, "Thank ye Maam.." He shrugs, "I don't know if'n they're better off or not… I jest couldn't sit, and leech off of the town. Suckin money out of it like blood. Thought I'd help if'n I could.."

"I've seen good people and bad, lawman and regular folk, and you don't strike me as one of those who would hurt a town or its people. And having someone here to help uphold the law seems to me better than letting crime run wild. And the fact that you took the job knowing the reputation of the town, and that you did it to help says a lot, in my opinion." She dries and puts away bowl and spoon, before she pours out two cups of coffee, "You take sugar and cream?"

Colton shakes his head, "Naw… Jest like that is fine." He looks at her a moment, "Well.. If I live long enough to do any good.. We'll see then."

A nod, as she carries your cup over to you, setting it back down where you were sitting. As for her own, she adds a dollop of the molasses she used in Seg's mash, before she walks over to the window, pushing it open to let the cold breeze fan her face, looking out over the street and what she can see of the town outside, "Every day a good person stands up against the evil outside does good to everyone around them."

Colton shrugs, and picks up his coffee cup, "Well.. I don't know about all that.. You do what you can.. And hope its enough." He lifts his cup to drink, and glances from stall to stall at the horses.

"That is what we all try to do everyday, Sheriff. But some do for themselves, and some do for others. Clearly, you have chosen to do for others, else you wouldn't have taken the badge." A sip of her coffee, as she looks out over the snow covered ground, "The coming spring will be something to look forward to."

Colton chuckles, "Been lookin forward to it since I got here.. Makes me wonder why I pointed that hoss north."

"Perhaps you knew there was something for you here. And you've certainly found it. What sounds like a good job at the ranch, and a badge to help you watch over the town." Arden looks back at you, "Finished?" a tip of her head indicates the dinner dishes, and the remainder of the bread.

Colton blinks a bit in surprise, and looks down to where she nods. He pauses before nodding back, "Yes Maam.. It was wonderful. I sure do appreciate it."

Colton leans over to pick up the bowl to hand to her, "And good coffee too Maam."

"You are always welcome at my table, Sheriff, even if the table happens to be covered with hay." She accepts the bowl and spoon, and goes over to wash and dry them, before she puts them away again in her pack, "Chicory. That's my secret." She takes a few minutes to clean up the cooking area, putting everything away, though the last of the stew she leaves out to finish cooling. That done, she returns to the window, pushing it open, so that she can perch on the edge of the sill, not seeming to mind the cold coming in from outside, turned so that she can face you, "So what can you tell me about the town?"

Colton shrugs, "Not much Maam.. Its pretty quiet.. Till here lately. Folks seem to get along fairly well. Got some folks that take advantage of there not bein any law.. but other than that…Alot like any other town.. Jest slower."

"And what do the townspeople do for entertainment, to relieve the slowness? I've seen there's a casino, though I haven't had any desire to go in myself." The coffee is reclaimed, a careful sip, to test the temperature, before she takes a deeper one, "Lately? I feel as if I've missed something."

Colton shrugs, "Depends I reckon.. Theres a theater.. but I ain't heard of any shows.. Saloon.. Theres the Gem.. " He looks over to her for a moment, "What do ye think yer missin Maam?"

Arden sets down her cup of coffee, leaning over to gather up a handful of snow, "You said things had been quiet here until just lately. It made me think that things must have been happening in town that I missed. And you did mention that there have been problems with the law in town." A flash of a smile, "I saw a show once, in Montreal with my father. I enjoyed it very much."

Colton smiles slightly, "Well I can't say I ever sat in a theater… Plenty of saloons though.. " He rubs his chin, "There is a fella they call the Preacher that was runnin around out there…He was takin women, and …. Killlin 'em."

Laughter, at your answer, and Arden continues to pack down the snow into a hard ball, "I imagine you've seen a good show or two in those just the same, Sheriff." The humour fades though, at the continuing conversation, "I certainly hope he's been found and dealt with." Most days, and certainly in the few times you've met her, there's been no hardness in her voice, in her demeanour, but there's a flash of it now, in her words.

Colton shakes his head, "I don't reckon.. He's still out there somewhere.. He sent one girl back.. broke arm.. She's over at the Gem healin up."

"Then it seems you do have at least one extra job to do as Sheriff. If there is anything that I could do to help, of course, I would be willing." Arden looks down at the snow, well now iceball, and then tosses it out through the window, before she reaches down and gathers up another handful and starts repeating the process.

Colton nods slowly, 'I been out once… Lookin.. Injun that was guidin me is wanted by that Marshall around town now.. I couldn't tell ye what direction to go in.. let along find 'im at this point."

"And the girl he sent back doesn't remember anything that might be helpful in finding him, or at least trying to predict when he might strike again? Or whom?" Arden shakes her head, "Don't think I've met that marshall since I've been in town. Haven't met many people at all since I've arrived. I suppose the weather and the worry are keeping most people homebound."

Colton shakes his hed, "She was knocked out cold comin, and goin.. She don't remember the first thing about where she was and how she got there. " He clears his throat, "The Marshall ain't the easiest fella to get along with."

"It seems interesting that he sent her back, when he killed the others." Arden tosses out the second iceball, before she stands up from the sill, moving over to the stove to pour the last of the warm water in a basin and dip her hands, "Are you being kind when you say that, Sheriff?"

Colton nods, 'Yes Maam.. He's an ornery cuss."

"Well, I don't imagine it would look good if I avoided him if I saw him, so I will just try to handle it as best that I can. But I thank you for the forewarning." She lifts her hands back out of the water, massaging one hand with the other, working out the kinks, before she dries them and goes to retrieve her saddlebags, "Come and sit a while with Seg?" She carries the bags back towards the stall she's rented.

Colton looks over, and nods once. He brings his coffee cup, and waits till she gets settled, "You always mix him mash like that?"

"Depends on what we have available. I don't usually feed him mash during the warmer months, when he can go out and forage as much as he likes. I save it for winter. It's a comfort to him, in the cold weather, and it supplements the dry hay, but I suppose, strictly speaking, he doesn't really need it. I used cracked barley, wheat bran and oats today. Sometimes I add corn, but it's easy for a horse to put on too much weight if you overfeed them corn, so I try to hold back on that if I can." Arden sets down her pack, pulling a pick out of her toolbelt, and moving over to the appaloosa, moving to do his back feet first, standing to the left and leaning down to run a hand along his left leg. As soon as she gets to his fetlock, and applies the slightesy upward pressure, Seg lifts his foot. He knows the drill. She settles his foot into her hand, supporting it on her knee and starts to work, carefully cleaning his hoof, working from heel to toe.

Colton watches quietly, "Well I reckon it'd be hard to pack on too much weight on 'em up here.. Cold as it is.. They'll need it. Else they'll spend all their time shiverin."

Arden works smoothly, efficiently, as she moves from rear left, on to rear right, and continues with the front right. "That's what most people would think, yes. But while it might be alright for a horse to have just a few extra pounds, extra weight is actually quite dangerous for a horse. They sweat more, they have to work harder to move, and they tend to stay hotter and get stressed more. It can also cause damage to their joints. And it can tear apart their front hooves. You also have to worry about colic, especially if you're feeding them food that's too rich for them and too often."

Colton nods slowly as he listens, "Well sounds like a fine line between freezin and breakin." He glances toward the front doors to the stables, "I got some folks to look after Maam.. Is there anythen you need?"

"Horses are hardy animals. They're built to survive much tougher conditions than we are." Arden moves to the final hoof, and pauses, looking back at you, "No, I'm fine Sheriff. You go take care of your business. Thank you for the company."

Colton touches the brim of his hat, "Take care Maam.. Thank ye for feedin me, and puttin up with me…" He nods once, and turns toward the door to step outside.

"You're quite welcome, Sheriff. As I said, you're always welcome at my table." Arden watches until you disappear past the stall, and then returns to grooming.


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