Tales from the O-NO Ranch | TheFencePost.com

Tales from the O-NO Ranch

Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

I often wonder about the boys ” the cowboys that worked for me through the years on different ranches. I will, with your permission, recall some of them and I will change the names to protect the guilty.

Let’s see … where do I start? I’ll start with ole Mack. He was the oldest of the crew and about as cranky as any feller I ever knew. A good man he was, but he always seemed to find some issue to complain about. He decided he was gonna’ whip me one time and even though he was up in his 60s, I was glad I was able to talk him out of it. I do believe the frame of mind he was in, he might have just got it done. He retired in the early ’80s and he may have crossed over the divide by now.

Then there was Willie, who was young and ambitious and, most of all, wanted to be a bronc man. Willie was probably the best roper in our crew, but he was no bronc man. I started a young horse one time and put a dozen rides on him and Willie wanted him in his string. The horse, even though a little bronky, never bucked with me. He bucked Willie off the only two times he tried to get on him. So much for being a bronc man … Willie quit the cowboy game early in his life and went on to drive a truck or something.

Mark was a quiet kid with an infectious smile and was always my favorite of all the guys that ever worked under me. Mark had no fear and would give 100 percent every time any task was asked of him. Like me, he was no great roper, but he was a purist when it came to being a cowboy and I admired him for that. He broke his leg once and was back in the saddle two weeks later with a cast on his leg, and I promise I couldn’t talk him into taking lesser tasks until his leg healed up some more.

Jesus was steady as anyone I ever had work for me. He knew his job and always worked until it got done. He was a little hard headed, but a pleasant fellow, a few years older than myself. If Jesus didn’t retire within this last year, he has been on that same ranch for over 40 years and all of it in the saddle with a little tractor time in between. Jesus was one of my crew that I, like a few others, held in high esteem and would trust with my life.

Terry was one of those guys that had talked himself into being the “best cowboy” around. He really was a good hand around cattle and with horses, but he was dangerous to work around and always seemed to be showing off trying to get our attention. I had to fire him after a couple of years as he was just too much trouble to deal with at any given time!

Al was a self-centered know-it-all. I liked him just the same as he was mostly in good humor and was a hard worker. I gave him the responsibility of being cowboss and it didn’t take long for most of the crew to begin to resent him as he seemed to not give enough credit to their hard work and accomplishments. He stayed on the ranch for a good many years after I left, then got into trouble and was fired.

Ole Randy came to me in search of work and he was a feller that just had no time for a happy face or a good word about anybody or anything. I was hesitant about puttin’ him to work, but I was short-handed and let him come on board. He didn’t last very long as he was most difficult to work with or to even be around.

I could go on and on about many others that have worked for me. Most were good guys who used what talents they had. Some, of course, were better cowboys than others and others were better men as a whole, but not as good a cowboy as others.

We took the job title “cowboy” very seriously and most tried to improve their skills with every passing day. We spent the winters looking after thousands of wheat pasture cattle and a few hundred head of mother cows. There was a lot of roping and doctoring in the pasture and it certainly got purty “western” at times. We loved it.

It was our job. We were cowboys. I wonder about those guys and really, I hope that they all have found their “thing” in life and are doing well. It would be nice to know!

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. ya.