September 2010
Through the Fence

Father Knows Best

In our modern world of feminism and political correctness, a show like "Father Knows Best" would have never made it off the drawing boards. Back in those days, Mom was home-baking cookies and dusting the furniture in a dress and pearls, and Dad was home by six. It was a safe, predictable and certainly less hectic world if we are to believe those old black-and-white television shows.

My mom was a strong-willed woman and, according to her, she tried to be submissive to my dad. When she told him that once in my presence, he threw his head back and guffawed so hard I thought he would have a stroke. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck in that department myself, and my husband would probably doubt that I even try.

I was reminded the other night why I should heed my husband’s advice. We had been feeding the horses coastal hay for several months because what little grass we had in the horse pasture had long since given way to ragweed and nightshade. However, we had plenty of grass in the backyard and along the edges of the lane behind the house.

"No sense mowing that," I reasoned to myself. "Might as well let the horse enjoy a little green forage for a change," I thought, even though my husband had told me more than once not to let the horses into the yard because they tear up stuff. They had recently ripped the vinyl upholstery off of a buggy seat — a fact I had forgotten to remember.

When he came home and saw the horses in the backyard, he didn’t blow a fuse, but merely commented I ought to put them up before bedtime. I thought about it briefly and then figured, with all that green grass, surely they wouldn’t get right outside our bedroom window and start stomping. But that’s exactly what they did — about four o’clock that morning.

I didn’t hear them. But hardly any night noises wake me up. I might rouse slightly right before an F5 tornado ripped the roof off the house. My husband wakes up if the dog’s collar jingles when she scratches or if a cricket in the other end of the house even thinks about chirping. He had awoken at that unpleasant hour to the sound of equine snorting and stomping. Then he woke me and asked me why I had left the horses out. There was no good answer to that question. Even in my semi-conscious state, I knew there was nothing to do but go put them up.

I staggered out the back door barefoot in my pjs. The full moon was obscured by clouds and I had been too asleep to grab a flashlight. I tried to shoo the horses away from the house quietly, but they kept circling around me. They needed some incentive to move. The only thing I could find was an old bamboo rake leaning against the house out by the trash cans. That was fairly motivating and I got them to go through the gate after they had romped through the backyard in the darkness several times. Relieved, I limped quietly through the door on tender feet — dreading the confrontation that would take place at dawn.

Right before I went back into the bedroom, I looked out and saw all three of them in the yard, munching away, as if nothing had happened. I put on some shoes, grabbed my trusty rake, herded them into the pasture and made sure the gate was fastened.

I went back to sleep just minutes before the alarm clock buzzed. My husband never did. When daylight came, I had to take the scolding I deserved. He reminded me of what had happed last time the horses were let into the yard. They got into the well house and broke a PVC water pipe when we had a houseful of company. He had to break through the foundation with a sledge hammer to repair it. Another incident I had forgotten to remember, probably since I wasn’t the one doing the sledge hammering.

Hopefully that less than gentle reminder will have a long-term effect and I will reluctantly concede, in our family, Father really does know best.

Lisa Hamblen Hood lives near Priddy, Texas, where she teaches English, Art and Spanish. E-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..