Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

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July 8, 2014
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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 6-30-14

Gentle readers, I wasn’t quite ready to hear those Mourning Doves just outside my window at 4:30 this morning. Nope, I wasn’t. They were cooing their mourning sounds in the pine trees and it took me back to long ago and far away.

Yep, in my early 30s I was asked to haul one of my horses from Amarillo down to Del Rio, Texas, and plan on working on a border ranch for a few weeks. As it was, a feller that I had worked for before had leased 88,000 acres, the old Burr Ranch, along the Texas, Mexico border and was going to purchase the existing cows that were present there. His old banker wanted all those cows gathered out of the brush so he could personally count them and know that his collateral was indeed there. I have to tell you that to call these old mossy cows wild would be an understatement. Five of those old cows could scatter in seven different directions!

Back to the birds. There were about a dozen Mexican cowboys, two anglo college kids, a white ranch manager and his 13-year-old son. The college boys occupied a single wide trailer which they shared the bath room with me. I slept out in the back of my pickup because the bunkhouse was full of young Mexican cowboys who talked and listened to loud music too late in the night for me to get any sleep. The white college kids did the same. I remember those song birds every morning around 3:30 to 4:00 making their early morning conversations. I was so tired from being in the saddle all day the day before that I just wanted those stupid birds to shut up and let me get at least one more hour of sleep.

We usually ate at about 5:30 to 6:00 in the morning and then hit the saddle for another hot day in the Brasada (thick brush). The Mesquite trees were a lot bigger there than up at Amarillo. It was hard to get around and the pastures were huge. You could easily get lost and I did a time or two when separated from the other cowboys. The brush was full of Javalena hogs, five to seven foot Diamond Back rattlers and wild, wild cattle and on occasion, Border Patrol looking for these Mexican cowboys. It was three weeks of “poppin’ brush, ropin wild cows and hopin’ you didn’t get yer pony gored or a Mesquite thorn rammed through your boot. Or even worse, wind up waging war with a 6-foot rattler or have a wild pig run under your horse and maybe get you bucked off. Some of all of that happened to this guy or that guy, but never me. Talk about luck. Three weeks of wild memories that I’ll never forget and I was reminded of it all at 4:30 this morning.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion. Have a freedom filled Fourth of July and I’ll c y’all, all y’all. ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Jun 26, 2014 02:29PM Published Jul 11, 2014 03:01PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.