Tales from the O-NO Ranch
So, you want to be rich and famous, do you? Are ya sure? I have worked for some rich folks in my cowboy career but they weren’t the kind you would call famous, only in certain circles. Most rich folks can be truly unhappy souls that can never seem to satisfy their every little want and need. What they need most, in my opinion, is just to be accepted as being worthwhile as a human being.
I sat there at the True Grit cafe that summer afternoon and watched as the big red dually truck pulled in across the street where there was some shade from the trees in the little park. He got out and took off his duster, folded it and layed it back in the truck seat and started across the dirt street to the cafe. I knew who it was right off the bat. He looked like a cowboy with faded jeans, beat up hat, dusty boots and big spurs. He looked like a cowboy then as he did on the TV commercials when he was peddling his cologne while wearing his blue denim shirt and soiled cowboy hat. He stepped up on the wooden boardwalk and came in through the swinging doors, chink, chink, chink as his spurs slightly played tag with the hardwood floor. He looked around only to discover I was the only patron in the place and looked my direction.
“Jack, can I join you for a cup of coffee?”
“Sure, Ralph, come on over,” I responded.
I had met Ralph on a couple of occasions and knew him to be a nice man. He had one of the nicest ranches on the Western Slope just out of Ridgway, Colo., and you can see photos of it on almost every calendar that features Colorado or beautiful mountain vistas anywhere.
Ralph and I made small talk as you might expect any ranch hand to do with someone so rich and famous. That’s all I was at the time was a ranch hand, as I had been fired as a ranch manager on another rich man’s ranch a few months earlier. I had realized over the years of managing ranches for big moneyed folks that they are just folks. They may or may not have a high opinion of themselves and they may or may not elevate themselves to a higher plain than you feel comfortable with. I always just treated them as if they were my equal, take it or leave it. Ralph was one of those guys that just wanted to (in my opinion) be one of the guys and I had a great amount of respect for him, as he didn’t turn his beautiful ranch into some kind of zoo. Nope, he ran a traditional cow/calf operation and treated his people with respect and let them operate his investment pretty much as any good cowman would.
I was not able to get along with the folks that fired me from their outfit. I was just too common, I think. I treated them as my equal and I think I must have insulted them. Truth was, I didn’t care for them, they didn’t care for me. It didn’t mean they were bad folks. They just weren’t the type of folks I wanted to spend my time around and it showed.
Next time you buy that lottery ticket and dream about what you will do with all those millions, I know of a cowboy cartoonist that is in need of a little more financial security, and I will pass along his name and address if you will call BR-549 Rich!
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, and I’ll c. ya.
And Ralph, if by any chance you read this, I do think that you are a neat guy. My hat’s off to ya.
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Hudspeth County, Texas — In the fall of 2019, ranch hands were gathering a bull when they noticed something out of place. One of their employer’s cows was freshly branded, with someone else’s brand.