A Socratic Rancher 11-1-10 | TheFencePost.com

A Socratic Rancher 11-1-10

When we think of residential hotels, we tend to think of cities. Most typically, large cities. So the Hereford Inn being a residential hotel in the middle of what many people would call “nowhere” surprised me enough to return several times in the 1970s.

Though many of the Inn’s residents were a bit heavy on hard luck stories, there was one woman who carried an air of being relentlessly amused. It seemed a smile never quite left her face, and her blue eyes sparkled like late afternoon sun on still water. I don’t think I can correctly recall her name, but think it was Dottie.

One morning she told me about the unexpected challenges of carrying two gallons of milk on a jackass.

“We shared a bonny young Jersey cow with our neighbors,” she said, smiling. “Thataway we didn’t have to milk all year ’round, don’t cha know. So it was one of the times I had to go over their homestead to get our milk for the next few days, and I had two gallon jars. Glass jars, nice tight white lids. I rode over to their barn on Honk, a jenny who’d wandered in to our yard one day, the makings of another story, I’ll tell ya. Never mind all that. I arrived at the neighbors as easy as could be, got the two gallons of milk, but then I looked to heaven for help. Ever tried to carry two gallons of milk on a jenny?”

I had to admit I hadn’t.

“First thing I did,” Dottie went on, “I tucked a gallon under each arm. Fine for the milk carryin’, but then I couldn’t hardly rein over the jenny and reconcile my mount, now could I? Anybody who’s been around long ears knows that those ears do more than gander at air waves. This jenny knew she had me, which made it fine in her mind to go from bein’ a tame and lovely beast to actin like she’d just got herself a bullheaded booster shot. Woulda taken a firecracker to make her move.”

“So what did you do?” I asked.

Dottie looked at me like I already knew the answer. “I didn’t stand on the milk jars, if that’s what you’re thinkin’. No, Laddy, I rolled a stump near to her while I mumbled gibberish at her. With an in-twing of an in-thing of an i-doe … and all that sort of thing. While she was considerin’, or sortin’ it all out, I slide a leg over her spine and put a couple of gentle heels to her withers. Off we went, and that’s when my problems really started.”

“How’s that?”

Her eyes widened. “Laddy, I’m on a jenny, goin’ over the speed limit with a gallon of milk under this arm and that. Does that sound like somethin’ from the world of easy-does-it?”


“Your brains are growin’ by the minute, Laddy. So, here I come, ridin’ into our fine homestead on a jenny, a gallon of milk under each arm, and me father comes out, sees what he sees, and he can’t stop laughin’. Out piles me brothers, me sisters, and me labstone is beatin’ as furious as ever while they’re all slappin’ their thighs. I musta rode that jenny round the yard for a hour before me father finally contented her. May this be a lesson to you.” She grinned.

“I’ll make note of it.”

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