3.15.2013

My In Just Spring Contest Entry

Today I'm excited because I'm trying my hand at fiction for the
IJust Spring Contest at Susanna Hill's blog
Here now, my entry.
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With Thatcher By Their Side by Barbara Gruener

To the animals on his farm, Thatcher was a guardian angel.

His job was to protect their newborns from the coyotes and wolves.

After a long winter waiting inside, Thatcher’s thick coat started to shed and that was his first clue that spring was on its way.

Springtime was his favorite because he got to stand guard over the newborn lambs, goats, and chicks.

Oh how he loved keeping those young newbies safe.

Thatcher was strong and brave; he was at his best when he was on watch. 

Nothing bad would happen with Thatcher by their side.

With wildflowers starting to bloom, leaves budding out on trees, and caterpillars eating like crazy, Thatcher knew that spring wasn’t far off.

Those babies would be here soon.

Then, out of the blue, Thatcher was loaded into a trailer and taken somewhere new. 

Somewhere he didn’t recognize. 

Somewhere called The Rodeo.

That’s where Thatcher met Winn, a wagon-pulling mule.

Not strong enough to pull the Mutton Busters’ wagon alone, Winn needed Thatcher.

“Can you help me pull my wagon in the Rodeo Grand Entry Parade?” Winn wondered aloud.

“But I’m a guard donkey, not a wagon-puller,” replied Thatcher politely.

“How do you know you can’t do it if you’ve never tried it?” challenged Winn.

Well, that was a good question.

Could he learn to pull a wagon, then be back to the farm in time for the birth of the baby animals?

Thatcher asked, “How long does The Rodeo last?”

When Winn replied that The Rodeo would be in town for just two weeks, Thatcher said he’d be glad to help out.

To Winn and those Mutton Busters, Thatcher was an angel. 

The donkey duo made a terrific team. Side by side they pulled that wagon full of young Mutton Bustin’ buckaroos with grace and ease.

The crowd waved and cheered.

Thatcher was pleased to be a part of the parade pageantry and happy to help his new friend, Winn.

And when The Rodeo ended and he got back to the farm and met the new kids on the block, Thatcher knew that spring was here at last.



43 comments:

  1. Barbara, great story, I love it! You should think about writing more :) and I have to say that it truly is great to have a Thatcher by your side, I don't know what I would do with out mine.
    Shawna

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    1. Awww, thanks, Shawna! That means a lot coming from a book junkie like you!!

      Everyone ought to have a Thatcher, right?

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  2. This is so cute...a guard mule....who'd a thought it lol?

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    1. It's actually an interesting well-kept secret here in TX to get a donkey to help keep your other animals safe. Too cool to pass up!

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  3. Hee Haw!

    Thatcher sounds like a fine donkey.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the Hee Haw. Thatcher can kick up his heels with the best of 'em!

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  4. A guard donkey...how neat is that? I thought he was a guard dog at first and was happily surprised by the twist. :)

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    1. That's funny to think of it as a twist but I guess without the illustrations the reader wouldn't know he was a donkey until quite a way into the story, eh? Glad you were happily surprised; thanks for your reflections!

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  5. Do you have a real Thatcher in your life? Because this sounds like you know him well! Nice work!

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    1. Oh, Julie, what great insight. The AP at my school actually has a ranch in Bryan, TX and they got themselves a donkey like Thatcher for that very reason a few years back.

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  6. Aww, I love the name Thatcher. Sweet story Barbara!

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    1. I have a student who just got a baby brother and they named him Thatcher, so I borrowed it ... isn't it the sweetest?

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    2. Yes! I'm adding it to my list of favorites.

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    1. Thanks, Laura. I was so, so, so very nervous to make something up and hit submit ... I'm much more comfortable with personal narrative so this was a springtime stretch for me!

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  8. What a lovely story, Barbara! Very original and with a great lesson of friendship and helping others, in addition to the spring theme. :) And I love the name Thatcher!

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    1. Oh, Vivian, you have no idea how nice it is to read your words. Writing fiction is SO waaaay out of my league but it was waaaaay too hard to pass up such a fun .... then it was waaaaay challenging to stay within the word count .... but what a great feeling to have done it!

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  9. Oh, I LOVE the concept of a guard donkey! Thatcher sounds like someone you'd want to have around. What a fun story, and I love the end... "when he met the new kids on the block he knew spring was here at last". I'm looking forward to seeing some of those new kids around our block :) Thanks for a great entry, Barbara!

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    1. WoW ... thank you, Susanna! Such a great contest and SO much fun to prewrite, write, and rewrite this little tale. I could have used a few more words to develop the story, but that's part of the package, right? What a great lesson in word conservation. I appreciate that you came by and shared your thoughts with my readers and me!

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  10. This is precious! Not only did it hook me right away wondering what Thatcher was (I also thought guard dog), but it kept me curious throughout. I wondered where he was being taken and for a second I freaked out and thought Thatcher must have been a cow, like a Black Angus, maybe? But of course...Barbara wouldn't write a story like that! Then I wondered what a "guard-donkey" is? Glad for the comments section (ya learn something new every day)! I also wondered if Thatcher would get to go back to the farm since he did such a great job with Winn! Great job, Barbara!!!

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    1. Holy cow {wink, wink} - what wonderful feedback! Thank you, Lisa. Since I shared with you that I was really stepping out as I worked on this ... I really appreciate your kind words and insights. I wondered about Winn, too, but the other way .... would Winn go back to the farm with Thatch?

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  11. Love that I am learning a little about Texas here, Barbara. I am a donkey fan and am so happy you have Thatcher as your protagonist.

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    1. Thanks, Joanna. I guess I should call it realistic fiction? I grew up on a farm but we had horses, not donkeys and it was WI, not TX. I appreciate your feedback!!

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  12. What an unusual twist on your story. Love the idea of a donkey named Thatcher guarding over the newborns. Great story.

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    1. Thank you, Pat. It was a huge hurdle to write some fiction; are you struggling as much as I did? Can't wait to read your entry tomorrow.

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  13. I love that you choose to tell this story through the POV of a donkey. Very original and lovely.

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    1. Why thank you, Hannah; I appreciate your kind words.

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  14. I think you have found a second career--author of books for children! Very cute story and I can visualize all the character. Kids would love this. I also like that it makes the point that we all have had to do something for the first time and it might have been a little hard but Thatcher did it anyway.

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    1. I can't wait for my illustrator to draw Thatcher, Winn and those little Kids!! I appreciate you, as always, Jo, for stopping by and encouraging my work.

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  15. Barbara, this is a wonderful story. Living out in the Texas hill country myself, there's all sorts of 'Thatchers' who astutely guard their wards. I always thought of guardian donkeys as unsung heroes, so I appreciated your making one a MC. :0)

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    1. Ooooo, I love that .... his little wards .... my teenager was actually laughing at the thought of a donkey taking on a wolf but I'm told they're formidable when it comes to guarding their own.

      We LOVE the Hill Country!

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  16. I love how I had to readjust my image of Thatcher from a dog to a donkey. It gave the story an added surprise! Loved it!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jill, and for your kind feedback. I actually changed the title at the last minute {I was originally going with Thatcher, The Guardian Donkey} and never gave it another thought ... so fun to surprise my readers with that inadvertent twist!

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  17. I didn't realize thatcher was a donkey - quite the twist. And how helpful he was. Fun story.

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    1. It's so fun to think of it as a twist since he was a donkey all along in my mind ... I really thought that Thatcher, The Guardian Donkey was too predictable a title ... then changing it added that twist for the reader ... I'm glad you stopped by the Corner this afternoon!

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  18. Like the other commenters, I had to stop and LOL when I got to the guard donkey line. The name Thatcher was a charmer, too.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by .... I suspected that readers might like the idea of a guardian donkey!

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  19. I don't think is likely to be duplicated in a hurry - a rodeo and a guard donkey are not readily going to come to people's minds as images of spring! I would hate to be a miscreant on the wrong side of a guard donkey!

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    1. I guess the Rodeo comes to mind with spring because here in Houston it's in town from the end of February through spring break. And I'm with you about being a miscreant ... GREAT word!

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  20. What an adorable idea for your spring story. Thatcher is a great character! Nice job :-)

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  21. I've never heard of a guard donkey...what a unique story, I'm glad he wasn't taken away from the farm for good!

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  22. Love it :) donkey and love his name :) Great job!

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I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!

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