Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

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February 11, 2013
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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 2-11-13


Gentle readers, last night I watched an old movie called “Monte Walsh” and it was starring one of my favorite actors, Lee Marvin.

The movie was based on a couple of cowboys who were buddies and where one went so went the other. They knew how to do one thing well and that was cowboyin’. The time period was the turn of the century or the late 1880s. Many of the bigger ranches were being bought by folks from back east with deep pockets and knew next to nothing about cattle ranching in the west.

Back then cowboys were necessary and the more skills they brought with them to the ranch the more secure were their jobs. Cowboys were not married men as a general rule and they all lived together in the bunkhouse. I never was a bunkhouse cowboy as I was married when we lived and worked on the bigger ranches. I am inclined to think that bunkhouse living would be a lot like my living in the barracks when I was in basic training. Early to bed, early to rise, eat what the cook comes up with for that particular day and your shirt tail is not likely to hit your back during a normal day of ranch activity. There are still some of the larger ranches that have bunkhouse accommodations for the single cowboys that work there. It may be for seasonal work or full time work.

I adjusted to the barracks living because I was a young man and had no other choice unless I wanted to go to the stockade for some time. You do what ya gotta’ do.

Back to the movie.

These two cowboys seemed well adjusted to their situation. They had a roof over their head, two, maybe three meals a day and a place to roll out their bed and have a small space of their own. As they got older they began to realize that cowboyin’ was a young man’s game and unless they wanted to be relegated to cooking for the cowboy crew at some point and time they just might have to find another occupation. Lee’s buddy decided to marry a widow in town who owned a hardware store and give up the bunkhouse style living. That left our hero to just do the only thing he knew how to do and that was to be a cowboy for as long as his body could endure the aches and pains of everyday ranch living.

It has been said that there is not a piece of machinery that will take the abuse that a cowboy will. I find some truth in that. To all of you young cowboys out there that throw a saddle on a pony most every morning. You have my admiration but I will tell you that there will come a point and time where those little incidences of getting run over by some irritated cow, or getting bucked off too many times and wrestling calves at the branding fire will pay you a return visit. I have to say that I would not take one day of city living for one day a’horseback tending cows ... unless it was that cold winter day in the Texas panhandle that I got severe diarrhea some five miles from the house on that ol’ rough trotting grey ... yeah, I might consider makin’ a trade there.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c y’all, all y’all. ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Oct 16, 2013 03:30PM Published Feb 11, 2013 09:43AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.