Rural Runaways |

Rural Runaways

Today is the first day of summer and it’s 95 degrees here at Damphewmore Acres, but I want to be the first to warn you ­— from now on the days are getting shorter and that means winter is on its way!


Heard two great true stories this week, one from the recent past and one from the long-ago past.

The recent story happened within the family of my ol’ buddy Grayne N. Kowz from Lebo, Kan.

Picture this: It wuz early in the morning when Grayne’s married son awoke to a commotion in his front yard. Glancing out the window, he saw that the family’s riding horse had, once again, escaped from its pasture — thanks to an unclosed gate, compliments of his young son.

Throwing on some clothes, ol’ Dad hurried outside to gather up the pony before it caused any mischief. All he could find to immediately restrain the horse wuz some baler twine, so he tied the horse up and went back into the house.

However, the agitated pony would have none of that tied-up bizness and began twisting and turning and broke the twine around its neck and somehow the baler twine got wrapped up around a big metal Tonka toy in the yard that the “all-boy” son played with. When the pony moved the Tonka toy, it startled the pony and he broke into a trot.

The Tonka toy, of course, followed close on the pony’s heels, so the pony broke into a lope, then into a gallop, and then into a full-fledged run and the Tonka toy had no trouble keeping up the pace.

The end result wuz a “Triple Crown paced” mile right down the middle of the gravel road which ended with a winded horse winning and a battered Tonka toy finishing second, a length behind.

Grayne told me, “I’d have gotten up early myself to have personally witnessed that race.”

Heck, I’d have driven to Lebo early in the morning to have seen it myself.


The second story happened decades ago when another of my ol’ friends, C. Faren Whyde, got out of high school and headed out of Kansas for a job on a California sheep ranch owned by his uncle. The ranch wuz located on the rugged eastern slope foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Faren’s job wuz to herd the flock of hundreds of sheep during the day with his cousin.

To look like official shepherds, Faren and his “cuz” each carried a shepherd’s crook. Well, one day they actually needed the crook for something other than leaning on. 

The job that presented itself to them wuz to catch and examine an old ewe with a swollen udder and no lambs to suckle her. That can be a problem in wide open country with no fences or pens. Fortunately for the intrepid shepherds, or perhaps unfortunately for the cousin, the ewe wuz bleating for her lost lambs. So, Faren’s cousin crouched down behind a rock or bush and began bleating like a lamb and the old ewe came running for a look-see.

When she got close enuf for a try at a catch, the cousin leaped from his hiding place and stretched out as far as he could to snag the old ewe’s neck with his shepherd’s crook. By a stoke of good luck, or perhaps bad luck, cousin’s crook came to rest around the ewe’s neck — which immediately put the old gal into high gear down the mountainside.

Poor old “cuz” lost his balance and couldn’t get his feet under himself to put the “crook brakes” on the ewe. The consequence wuz the ewe’s pulled ol’ “cuz” down the hill in ever-bigger steps until he finally went off his feet and onto his belly as the ewe gained momentum going downhill through the rocks and brush. 

Faren said he watched the entire spectacle with mouth agape and wondered when his cousin would let go of his end of the shepherd’s crook — but he never did. Eventually, his dragging weight slowed the ewe and brought her to a stop. 

Faren says his cousin was scraped and skinned and a bloody mess, but the ewe ended up caught and dealt with. Faren sez it wuzn’t long after that episode that he left the Golden State permanently and came back to good ol’ Kansas to stay.


After those two stories about rural runaways, I’d best close this column for the week with these wise words about accidents by Salmon Rushdie: “The accidents of my life have given me the ability to make stories in which different parts of the world are brought together, sometimes harmoniously, sometimes in conflict, and sometimes both — usually both. The difficulty in these stories is that if you write about everywhere you can end up writing about nowhere.”

I think that pretty well describes my stories. Have a good ‘un. ❖