Silk and Satin "In the Year" AU
by Mary Ann

Chris, Vin, Buck, Ezra

In The Year AU

The wind picked up, and dust from the corral and road began to blow all around the area. It coved everything in a fine film of light brown and worked its way into the huge rock and timber barn, where two men were completing their morning chores.

Sneezing hard Vin continued to clean the last large stall while Chris lugged a huge forkful of straw into it and dumped it into a corner. Pausing a moment. Chris stretched his back then moved to the open window and pulled it closed just as Vin sneezed again, so hard it almost knocked him off his feet.

With a grin Chris began to kick the straw around in the stall as Vin pushed the filled wheelbarrow out of the stall door.

"Stop yer grinnin' Lar'bee." Vin grumbled as he pushed the contraption down the wide aisle.

Chris laughed, he couldn't see Vin's face but knew it was screwed up as he fought to keep from sneezing once more.

As the barn door swung open Vin sneezed again then cursed as he walked outside pushing the wheelbarrow. Chris kept working knowing Vin wouldn't appreciate his humor over the sneezing fit. As he worked he thought of the beautiful spring days they'd had lately, well, the days had been sunny, but the nights still brought a layer of ice on the water troughs and the small lake in the horse's pasture. This spring it seemed, was fighting with winter, winter not wanting to let go. Snow still lay in the higher elevations around the ranch and most of the horses hadn't shed their long winter coats yet. That in itself told that the cold was still hanging on.

Vin entered the barn, brushing his hands along jean clad legs, happy to get that chore done. As he passed the straw piled in its corner he grabbed an armful and carried it to the stall, tossing it inside he let Chris kick it around. He checked the stall's feeder and the water supply before waiting for Chris to finish.

**Ya goin' ta take all day?**

Chris raised his head, "You can go get her and bring her in now." He said out loud.

Vin nodded and headed for the double barn door picking up a rope as he went.

Outside he walked to one pasture gate and whistled loudly, hoping the chestnut mare heard him over the wind. He didn't have to worry; the large horned mare lifted her attractive head and looked his way, then ambled towards him through the wind. The long red and blond mane flew all around her head, horns and neck, her tail whipped between her legs and then out to a side. She just shook her head and continued to where Vin was waiting for her. Reaching the man she nuzzled his long hair as he slipped the rope around her neck.

"Come on Silk, time for you to go inta' the barn." The mare grumbled as she followed him out of the pasture and to the barn.

Inside the two men brushed and combed the big mare and checked her over. This would be her second foal and they didn't want any problems with this foaling. The last time she'd had a hard time and they'd almost lost the foal.

Silk endured their attention and hands quietly, her soft brown eyes half closed in contentment. Turned loose in the large box stall she checked it out, sniffing each of the corners before going to the feeder and began to eat some of the sweet hay in it.

"Well, in the next 48 hours we should have a new foal. First one this spring," Chris stated as they turned away from the stall and headed outside.

"She is pretty content. Looks like it will be an easy delivery for her," Vin replied. "Will check her in a couple of hours."

"Hey, look who the winds blown in," Chris said as he looked towards the ranch house.

Ahead of them, at the house two men had just pulled their horses to a halt. One man was holding onto his hat while the other one turned in their direction, a big smile crossing his face when he spotted them. Buck's voice boomed out across the open area towards them, but the wind carried away his words. It sounded like a muffled yell.

The two hurried as the visitors dismounted and tied their horses to the rail in front of the sprawling stone and timber house. Vin wondered what Buck and Ezra could want that they wouldn't radio them.

The four men stepped inside the house out of the wind, and Chris led the way to the kitchen where he made a pot of coffee.

"What's going on boys?"

"Yes, Mr. Wilmington, please enlighten Mr.'s Larabee and Tanner as to why we rode out here in this god-awful blustery weather condition." Ezra said as he tried to brush the dust off his warm maroon jacket.

Chris and Vin exchanged an amused glance before looking to Buck.

"Well, it wasn't all that important, well maybe, sort of I guess. Mrs. Potter and Travis, Ms Nettie and Inez put together a dinner for the seven of us. They're calling it 'Spring Fest' and are making all sorts of food for the occasion. And desserts too Vin, before you asked." Buck looked at Vin who had his mouth open to ask a question. He grinned when the young man snapped his mouth closed and frowned at him.

"When is this 'Spring Fest" supposed to happen?" Chris asked, taking out coffee mugs for the four of them.

"'Spring Feast' I do believe Ms Nettie called it." Ezra replied.

"Whatever it's called, when is it supposed to be?"

"Today at 6PM. We tried to get you on the radio but couldn't get through, that's why we rode out," Buck told them.

"Not surprised you couldn't get through, this wind has … aaahh- chooo.." Vin sneezed mightily.

Ezra backed away from Vin as fast as he could. "Good lord! I believe he sprayed me!"

Chris and Buck laughed.

"It's alright Ezra, it's just the dust that's got to him," Chris explained as Vin wiped his nose on a bandana.

"It's not … aaaa chooo…" Vin couldn't finish his words, as two more sneezes overcame him.

Chris grabbed a rag and wet it down then gave it to the sneezing man, who wiped his face and held it over his nose for a minute, drawing in the moisture.

Finally Vin looked at his friends and shook his head. "Never had this problem b'fore. Guess this spring is an odd one. Wonder if'n it means something?"

"Mr. Tanner, I do believe you might have hay fever, especially with this sneezing," Ezra commented as he took a chair at the table that was the farthest from his friend and sat down.

"Naw, hay doesn't bother me. Jist dust now and then, guess this is the 'then'. Now, I think we all need ta get moving so we can get back ta town for this spring feast. I am getting mighty hungry jist thinking of all that food."

"Vin, you had a large breakfast and lunch, and we've got our mare to keep an eye on." Chris said.

Vin thought a moment, then said, "Well we can check Silk before we leave and tell her not ta do anything til we get back, an' I've been working all day so I can eat again. The ladies are good cooks too, can't disappoint them by not showing up for all that food."

"Okay, we'll get cleaned up and head for town. You two want to wait or leave now?"

"We'll wait and enjoy this cup of coffee while you get ready," Buck told Chris.

"Be done shortly."

And true to their word, Chris and Vin were through within a short time and before long they had their horses saddled. After checking on Silk the four men headed off to 4C and the feast that would be ready for them when they arrived.

Part 2

Chris and Vin rode up the trail leading to the mountain ranch just as the moon dropped below the highest mountain. In the last hour the wind had turned bitter cold, and they rode their horned horses straight to the barn and dismounting led them inside.

The dinner that Mrs. Potter, Mary, Nettie and Inez put on for the seven had been - filling. They both had leftover chicken and some other goodies wrapped up and stored in their saddlebags. The chicken had been fried to perfection and they all had enjoyed it immensely.

They stabled their mounts, slung their saddlebags over their shoulders and quietly walked to the foaling stall where Silk moved restlessly around the enclosure. The pretty chestnut mare looked at the two men and shook her horned head before making another circle around the stall, grumbling her discomfort to them.

**I'll stay here if you want to take these up to the house, keep an eye on her.** Vin said as he watched the bulging, moving sides of the mare.

Chris watched the mare for a moment then took Vin's saddlebags from him and headed off. **I'll bring us some coffee, bedrolls too, might be a long night**

Vin nodded, and once Chris was gone he moved into the stall next to Silk's large box stall. He watched the mare for a moment and noticed she needed more straw for bedding and went after it. He moved confidently and quickly, tossing several armloads of straw into the mares stall and collected her empty water bucket. He then made short work of placing hay in the second stall, where they would lay their bedrolls out to be comfortable during the time they would be watching the mare. Once done he checked their foaling supplies, hoping that Silk would foal without the use of the pullers or a relaxing shot. Sticking the supplies in the corner of the stall they'd be using, he filled the water bucket. Placing it outside the stall door he moved to where Silk could see him clearly and began talking gently to her.

Silk's head swung towards Vin and her ears flickered back and forth as she listened to the soft, raspy voice. Sweat had begun to cover her flanks and she began to sway a bit sideways. Vin kept talking to her as she started to pace around once more, now and then turning her head to nose her side.

Vin finally opened the stall door and entered her stall. She stopped and watched him as he kicked the fresh straw around, fluffing it up for her. He collected the water bucket from outside the stall and offered her some water that she delicately sipped before moving off yet again.

Hearing the barn door open, Vin left Silk and saw Chris coming towards him. A smile crossed his face as he spotted what Chris carried. Besides a canteen of coffee and the bedrolls, he packed a wrapped tube shaped bundle. Vin thought it was the large stick of homemade summer sausage that they liked. In the bag on Chris's arm was probably bread and condiments.

Chris grinned, "Figured we'd get hungry if Silk drags this out too long. Thought we should eat that stick of sausage Nettie made for us too."

Vin laughed out loud, he loved Nettie's sausage. It was the best tasting meat he had ever eaten, and was happy that she gave them some to enjoy. They shared meat with her when they went deer hunting.

The two friends settled down in the stall and watched as Silk began to go into deeper labor. She was pacing faster and faster. Then with a grunt of pain she folded her long legs and dropped onto the pile of straw. She began her serious labor with a mighty roar of discomfort.

Chris and Vin watched her closely as they sipped their coffee. The birth was progressing as it should, and Silk was not having any problems as the labor continued.

A short time later, Silk clambered up and walked around several more times before she lay down again in the straw bedding. With a roar she began to push. The two men watched closely and within minutes tiny hooves came from the heaving body, then a nose appeared between the emerging legs. Several pushes later, the foal was pushed out on a gush of water. For a minute Silk lay still, breathing heavily, then with a heave she rose and turned to look at her new offspring.

Chris and Vin were ready with towels if Silk needed help, but she instantly began to lick her new baby. Soft growls came from her as she worked. They watched as she cleaned and began to dry the foal herself. Before long the new baby lifted its head and looked around at this strange new world. Within a few minutes the foal was struggling to stand, hard to do with Silk's nose still nuzzling and licking to get it totally dry. Wobbling a lot, the foal finally made it to its feet, long legs braced, splayed out and swaying a little.

The watching men could finally tell that it was a filly. Her mostly dry coat was a light creamy color, her legs were slightly feathered and her wiggling tail a combination of white and dark color. Her short mane was almost white.

The two men grinned, as they looked at each other and said almost simultaneously 'Satin,' then turned back to the miracle standing in the other stall. The filly's name would be Satin. Her sire was their stallion, a buckskin named Rambo. They hoped she would look more like him than her chestnut mother.

Once the foal was standing steadier she began to look for dinner. The little nose first shoved into her mother's side, then behind her front leg and then against her chest. With a tired sigh, Silk turned to nudge the hungry little mouth to her udder. After several misses, lips latched on and the first life sustaining milk entered Satin.

Chris and Vin made their way inside the stall and quickly cleaned it up, deposited the afterbirth then spread fresh straw. Vin began to brush Silk as she nursed. Delighting in the attention, Silk gave forth a sound like a cat's purr. They checked the little filly over and found there were no problems with her, she was healthy and her long legs were straight. Once Satin stopped eating she turned large liquid brown eyes to them and they rubbed the still damp places on her coat with the clean towels letting Silk rest.

Vin knelt in the straw beside the filly and stretched out his had to her. With a flip of her head that almost landed her in the straw, she moved a step away from him. She stopped and steadied herself by bracing her legs then Satin stretched her neck out and nibbled the tempting, wiggling fingers. Arching her neck she sucked on the strange digits as Vin ran his free hand over her neck. He scratched behind her ears, all the time keeping eye contact with the foal. Satin accepted the light scratching around her ears, it felt good to her, but after a bit she turned her head back to nuzzle the milky udder and started to nurse again. Vin and Chris moved out of the stall and leaned on the half door to watch while she ate.

Finally Satin had enough milk. Her little belly was extended with the important life giving first milk. She wobbled around the stall for a moment, sniffing at the walls, and her mother before dropping into the straw. Her eyes shut and her breathing deepened as she took her first nap. It had been an exhausting hour. Silk stood protectively over her baby and growled contentedly, her nose almost touching her sleeping foal, her breathe ruffling the hair on Satin's neck.

Chris and Vin made sure there was enough food and water for Silk and left. Gathering their things they headed for the house, shutting off the lights and firmly closing the barn door. The mare and foal would be fine.

In the house Vin carried the food to the kitchen. "Hey Chris, I'm going to cut up this stick of sausage, you want a sandwich? Or breakfast?"

"Yeah, I need something," came the reply. "Breakfast sounds good."

As the two men dug into their egg and sausage omelet and drank coffee they watched the sunrise over the mountains surrounding the ranch. They had been oblivious to the passage of time, as they watched their new filly come into this world.

It was a good start of the day.


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