Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From the O-NO Ranch 4-9-12
Gentle readers, you know exactly how far it is to the next windmill if you are a cowboy prowlin’ the pastures on a large ranch in the panhandle of Texas.
We are talkin’ summertime now and not the dead of winter. It gets hot down in Texas and that windmill may be the only available source for drinking water. There seems to always be a breeze in that part of the country and you can expect that windmill fan to be at least slowly turning and making that familiar creaking sound.
There is always that tin cup made from a can of beans or whatever with a bailing wire handle twisted around it for comfort and to give it a place to be hung from the tower usually on a cedar post that is bracing one leg of the windmill.
When it’s really, really hot and you arrive at that sweet oasis the first thing you do is allow your ol’ pony to drop his head in the large metal tank that the water first drains into before running out the discharge pipe into an earthen tank or pond as some would call it. That ol’ tin cup may be “rattlin” just a little in the breeze … just makes it all the better.
Most windmills in that country have good sweet water. However, some have water that has so much gyp and alkali that it’s hardly worth the trip. Water is water and if you are dried out enough and thirsty enough that ol’ alkali water is good enough for the moment. In the summer you have to check all the windmills because that’s where the cattle usually are shaded up under the mesquites chewin’ their cuds and slappin’ at flies with their tails at certain times of the day. That’s most likely where any sick cattle are going to be, close to water.
Little Miss Martha always had a “thing” for windmills as she loved to hear that “creaking” sound late on a summer’s eve just before the sun went down. There are paintings of windmills in my house as I write.
As a lad of 10 or 12 I remember one distinct Sunday morning in the little First Baptist Church in Sundown, Texas, on a hot summer morning. The pastor asked one of the local cowboys to give the closing prayer. I was into anything that had to do with horses or cowboys as we lived on the historic Mallett Ranch just west of town. I paid close attention to what this ol’ cowboy had to say. I didn’t close my eyes and watched him closely. I remember him in Levis and a khaki shirt. Boy did he ever have a red neck? His words were simple as you might expect and this is the way I remember most of the prayer, “Dear Lord, thank you for the blessings of this day and all it has brought forth. Make us mindful of your presence daily. If it’s in yer will, we could sure use a little rain, it would be as welcome as (this is the part that I remember well) as a cool drink of windmill water from a tin cup.” And with that he closed his prayer. I never forgot the part about the windmill water.
There is just something about the way a cowboy lets simple words of wisdom slip eloquently from his lips.
Stay tuned my friends, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c y’all, all y’all.