Word count 1,700
Disclaimer: I don’t own any part of it, but I do like to ask them to come and play sometime.
Notes: This is in answer to feedback I received from Sue Farley about my first story – Birthday Wishes Granted — She asked about the first New Year together.
It wasn’t betaed so all mistakes are mine. Please send feedback – I appreciate all comments. Thanks to all who sent comments on my previous writing
When he heard the knock on his bedroom door, Murdoch took a quick glance at the clock on his bedside table.
‘Only 5:15, it must be Scott, Johnny rarely starts a day this early,’ Murdoch thought. “Come in,” he called softly.
It was a surprise when he saw his dark-haired son enter his room.
“Murdoch, I wanted tah talk tah you ‘bout the brahmas. I know it’s gonna be a stretch for us tah start a project like that, but I was thinkin’ ‘bout the information that professor wired to Scott. Them Brahmas, they seem like a good investment. It might work out and since Johnson is gonna be involved with us, the costs won’t all be on us. I just wanted a chance to talk to you and hope that you would want to try with them Brahmas. Maybe we could convince Scott to go along with it, too.”
“Well, I haven’t made up my mind yet. I had planned to talk with Jim Talbot and Nick Barkley tonight at the New Year’s Eve party. We can discuss this with Scott at breakfast. I’d like to see how he feels after having time to read all the information he was able to get in the last two days. He may have read something that could prove this to be a foolish plan. If we do start this program, we need to isolate them from the regular herd for a while. So that means part of our pasture-land will to the north will need to be prepared as soon as we make a decision.”
“All right, Murdoch,” Johnny answered. He turned toward the door, “See you in a few minutes.”
Murdoch watched his son leave the room and wondered if things were getting better between them. It seemed as though a conversation like this would not have happened just a few weeks ago. Anytime he and Johnny had tried to talk before, the attempt always seemed to end in anger. Murdoch’s thoughts were interrupted by another knock on his door.
“May I come in, sir?” Scott asked.
“Of course, Scott,” Murdoch replied.
“Sir, I thought we should talk about the Brahmas. I told Johnny some of the information I found, but I think he may not agree with me. I was wondering how you felt bout the breeding program that Mr. Johnson wants to start. If we’re like-minded, perhaps we may convince Johnny.”
“Well, Scott, why don’t we all discuss this at breakfast? I’ll be down in just a minute.”
Scott nodded and turned to the door.
“I’ll go see about waking Johnny now.”
Murdoch shook his head after his son left. He wondered how the talk with his sons would go. He hoped he was able to keep a straight face when they were assuming that the other had not talked to him. He was not sure about making the investment, but Johnny was sure that having the cost divided between Lancer and the Johnson ranch would help in case of failure. He wondered how it would affect the ranchers’ friendship if a failure did occur. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to risk gaining that knowledge.
He took only another five minutes to contemplate the program and it’s possible consequences before heading to breakfast. He didn’t come up with any answers to questions he’d already had, but he did resolve to hear all his sons had to say.
Johnny and Scott were seated at the table in the kitchen drinking coffee when Murdoch made his way down the back staircase. Maria and Teresa had begun to set dishes of food on the table for the morning meal.
“Good morning,” the women greeted him.
“Good morning, ladies.”
After everyone had been seated and started eating, Scott brought up the subject of Brahmas. He touched on some of the negative, as well as the positive points. Johnny pointed out that the project was to be a joint venture and mentioned the positive sides of that point. Murdoch heard both sons out before pointing out that he wanted to discuss the matter with his friends, Nick Barkley and Jim Talbot.
“I want to hear what someone who would not be involved thinks about the project. We can let Raymond know if we are going to go along with him next week.”
Both sons nodded their agreement.
“Now that you three have gotten that out of the way, we can talk about the party tonight,” Teresa said. “Murdoch, can Scott and Johnny stay and lend me a hand with the preparations for tonight?”
“Of course, sweetheart.”
Both men groaned. Teresa could be quite a taskmaster when it came to preparing for a party.
Victoria Barkley and three of her children, Audra, Nick, and Heath, arrived that afternoon at Lancer. They would be staying the night after the party. Murdoch hoped they could be convinced to stay more than one night. The opinion of the Barkley matriarch and her son, Nick, was valued by the scot and he hoped they would stay so he could have a lengthy discussion about the Brahmas with them.
Other guests began to arrive at dusk. Doctor Sam Jenkins and Val Crawford arrived from Green River with plans to stay the night as well. Many neighbors and friends from the area and nearby towns came for the festivities and to welcome the New Year with the rancher and his family.
Murdoch managed to corner Nick and Jim Talbot at some point and discuss the prospect of breeding Brahmas with the two men. He told them of the information that Scott had received from a professor in animal husbandry at Harvard and the Montana rancher.
“I think it could be a good investment. I may even consider joining the venture,” Jim stated.
“Well, I’ll leave that kind of thing to you. Maybe it’s a good thing to look into, but we already have a few irons in the fire. With Jared working as a lawyer so often, we just haven’t got the time to deal with much more between Heath and me.”
Murdoch was slightly disappointed in Nick’s answer, but understood. Taking on new projects was not an easy decision for ranchers.
Scott called for the guests’ attention; “My family and I would like to thank all of you for coming and sharing the festivities. I think we would like to start a new tradition tonight. Each of us will state something he or she would like to accomplish or a resolution you have for the New Year.”
“I would like to have a few less trips to a certain ranch and a certain patient this year,” Sam said with a smile and a wink to Johnny. “But seriously, I would like to get a chance to read more information about new medical procedures and find new ways to help my patients prevent illnesses.”
“Well, this year I resolve to clean up my image slightly,” Val said.
“He needs tah learn tah make coffee, that oughta be his resolution,” Johnny whispered to Scott.
“My resolution is to keep in touch with friends that I feel I may have neglected in recent years,” Victoria stated.
“I will try to be more involved with community and charitable events,” Audra said.
“My resolution is to try and keep from losing my temper too quickly,” Heath said.
“I’ll make an attempt to please Mother and remember to keep my voice down and not yell so much. Although I don’t think I yell so much as she claims,” was Nick’s contribution to the resolutions.
“This year I resolve to learn more about ranching and to find some ways to make hard jobs on the ranch easier,” Scott said.
Johnny ducked his head when it was his turn. “I ain’t sure what my resolution should be, there’s so much I want tah do and change. I guess I want tah stay out of trouble as much as possible and not give Sam so much business this year.”
Teresa put a hand on each of her “brothers’” arms. “I resolve to take care of these two and to help with the families on the ranch as much as possible.”
It was now Murdoch’s turn. “This year I resolve to listen to the opinions of my sons more carefully. I also resolve to keep an open mind about new options.”
As the old grandfather clock began to chime the hour of midnight, the guests and Murdoch and his family raised their drinks in preparation of toasting the arrival of the New Year. At the stroke of midnight they all cheered, wished all present Happy New Year, and began to sing “Auld Lang Syne.”
The party was over and those who were not staying the night had left for their own homes. The Barkleys, Val, and Sam had all made their way to their rooms. Murdoch, Johnny and Scott were in the great room enjoying a few moments together.
“Scott, Johnny, I have other resolutions I want to make, but they’re only for the two of you to hear. I resolve, Johnny, to try to keep from losing my temper with you and to give more credence to your opinions. Scott, I resolve that I will respect your relationship with Johnny and myself and not depend on you to mediate when your brother and I disagree.”
“I also have a resolution to share with you and Johnny, Murdoch. I resolve to help bring about situations that will allow you and Johnny to work on strengthening your relationship. Johnny, I resolve to learn to help you leave your past behind and build your future as Johnny Lancer.”
With his head bowed, Johnny made his private resolutions known to his family, “I want tah show you that I ain’t gonna run off, Murdoch. I ain’t gonna hurt you like my Mama did. Scott, I’m gonna learn tah trust like you say I need tah do and open up more tah you and Murdoch.”
“Well, now that we know each other’s resolutions, maybe we can help each other keep them,” Murdoch told his sons. “Happy New Year, boys.”
“Happy New Year, Murdoch,” Scott and Johnny chorused.
Happy New Year to all in Lancerland. Hope you all have a prosperous one. Good luck with all your resolutions.
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