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Heather Gates, Ep. HG 9, Heather Found She Was Truly Part Of The Team

Updated on May 8, 2018
Homeplace Series profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Heather learned the foal would be her horse

A Palomino Mare and Colt
A Palomino Mare and Colt

Heather learned more about her FFA Project

On Saturday, August 24, 1996, after the morning chores were done, Jennifer and Heather sat down to take a first look at the horse breeding plan that Heather had begun to develop after their earlier discussion with Diane. Jennifer confirmed with Heather that her examination of Sunshine was positive and she would be ready to breed, at the appropriate time. Heather was now tracking Sunshine’s cycle as part of her daily routine and would keep Jennifer alerted as to her status. Together they had checked their semen sources and would be ready to move ahead when the time was right.


When Diane joined them, they brought her up to date on their activities and she gave her approval, then added one more bit of important information. Diane said that to make the FFA Project even more meaningful, Heather needed to have a personal stake in the project. After having talked to both Bart and Paul, they had agreed that the foal of Sunshine should become Heather’s foal to raise as her own horse. “Would you like that?” Diane asked Heather.


“Really? Is that possible? It would be wonderful? But, how can it be possible? I don’t have any money to buy it?”


Diane went on to explain that they would need to work up a formal arrangement which would not be difficult. They agreed that Heather had displayed a dedication to the horse operation and a work ethic that qualified her for a specific arrangement. She went on to suggest that Heather would raise the horse to be boarded at the stable and used as a trail horse, much like they were using Shadow, Christopher’s horse. The credit system would apply. This would all be part of her FFA project and the learning process, as well. Diane and Jennifer agreed it was a good plan.


Jennifer added, “Welcome to full membership in the team here.”


“Wow! Thanks!” Heather exclaimed. “I’ve got work to do.”

They considered the use of solar panels

An array of solar cells
An array of solar cells

Paul and Sheila talked about energy efficiency techniques

Sheila and Peter had recently extensively researched energy efficiency techniques as they were completing the construction of their geodesic dome home which was built off-the-grid and now being supplied with all energy needs via solar and wind power. Now that Sheila was spending more time working at the Mill, they were beginning to get serious about the feasibility of adapting some of these techniques to the operation of the Mill, the Mill Market, and associated operations, perhaps even the Carsten Cottage nearby. The more Paul had learned about some of these techniques, and seen them at work on their property, the more interested he became in getting serious about these considerations. He had also learned that, being on-the-grid, he might be able to sell back credits to the grid, when and if excess energy was generated.


Paul also realized there was an added benefit to these discussions. It gave him an opportunity to spend more quality time with Sheila, and Peter, now that their lives had stabilized. It had been nine or ten years of turbulence that Paul was very happy to apparently have in the rear view mirror. Any opportunity to build the father-daughter relationship to anywhere near what it had been earlier in life was most welcome to him. Sheila seemed anxious at this point to do that as well.


This Saturday afternoon discussion was about energy efficiency techniques, but it became much more than that. As they talked, and then walked around the property, Paul could feel a new closeness build between himself and his oldest daughter that had been missing for a very long time. It made him very happy. He knew they were on their way to spending a lot more time like this even if the cost savings were only of the smallest kind. Likely, however, the financial benefits would be as great as the psychological ones developing.


After a couple of hours of discussion and consideration, Paul suggested their next step might be to involve Peter in doing some actual physical measurements since he had been most intimately involved in that aspect as they had put their plans together and implemented them. Sheila agreed that would be the next step. She was anxious to share with Peter their discussion of the afternoon.

They each enjoyed the movie

Movie Poster
Movie Poster

Heather and her friends attended another Saturday night movie at the Lyric

The movie at the Lyric this week was the science fiction action film “Independence Day” starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Randy Quaid among many others. Kari, Karla and Heather decided this was a “great action flick.” They thought the Will Smith and the Randy Quaid characters were especially interesting. As they talked about the film at the Ice Cream Parlor afterward, they also got into discussion of the impact of the story on the other more “normal” people in the movie. There really was quite a story there, they agreed. How would we feel if this actually happened to us? This was where their discussion led.


Before long, however, and as they saw and talked to friends nearby, the topics of discussion moved to the first short week of school just passed. Most were complaining about the school year starting in August rather than early September. Kari and Karla talked about their new clothes and what other girls had been wearing that they didn’t get. Some were positive comments, some seemed to Heather as tinged with jealousy, and a few were even snarky. Soon, of course, they came back around to their FFA projects. They had only had two FFA classes this week, but their projects were at the top of their minds. The instructor had handed out the guidelines for this year, and they were mostly as expected.


Heather was very pleased, of course, to be able to talk about her project and the news she had received from Diane earlier in the day. Kari and Karla were surprised, as well, and very happy for Heather. They agreed it really made the project more exciting and certainly worth putting in a lot of effort. Kari and Karla talked about their projects too, but Heather detected just a hint of jealousy that Heather had pulled a bit of a coup with her project.

[Continued in Episode HG 10]

Author’s Note

This series of stories in the life of Heather Gates, a fictional character in The Homeplace Saga series of family saga, historical fiction stories (home blog found at thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com), is being created as a way to use a minor character in the early writings to expand those stories and share details omitted in those earlier writings within the original overarching themes. These newly included details may have been left out of the earlier stories through editing or they may have seemed unrelated to central themes at the time. With the expansion of the entire Saga, over the years, it has become obvious that filling in some of the gaps in the story for overall better understanding of the individuals, their families, and their interactions would be useful to The Homeplace Saga body of work in total. These episodes parallel the timeline of “The Homeplace Revisited” novel in this series.

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      14 months ago from Hollister, MO

      FFA/4H projects can be very exciting and usually are, with the proper incentives, support and dedication. It will be fun to watch it play out.

      Thank you for your visit and comments, Dora, as always! Much appreciated!! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      14 months ago from The Caribbean

      Never been close to a horse but am excited as Heather about raising the foal. Progress in energy efficiency is also something to shout about.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      14 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thanks, Larry!! ;-)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      14 months ago from Oklahoma

      Always interesting.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      14 months ago from Hollister, MO

      You are too kind, but thank you. I wish I knew how to reach a larger base of readers... ;-(

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      14 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are going to rival James Michener in your body of work....and that is a high compliment, my friend.

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