I remember when
Tale from the ONO Ranch, Wellington, Colo.
Somewhere this morning a truck pulled away from the house loaded with cotton seed cake to not only feed the cows but to get a good look at them for health reasons or any reason. Most likely there is a young or middle-aged man at the wheel with a Border Collie or a couple of Blue Heelers up in the cab with him. They may or may not be his cows but it doesn’t really matter as he is doing what he feels is his calling. He may or may not have the wife and kids with him as there are those times when he does. A good life. A cell phone if he has service and a radio in the truck to keep up with the world if he is inclined.
Gentle readers, I remember when I had that job as a young man in my early 30s, however there was no truck for my convenience unless I was hauling cake to fill the little cake houses that were present in each of the eight pastures. Nope, my employer was an older cowboy who now raised pretty handy Quarter horses and lived some 40 miles away on the horse ranch and he leased this eight section ranch to run cows and yearlings on. Every time I went to feed or check on the cows, I was on one of the four good horses he furnished for me. Every other day I rode a 10 mile circle to each pasture and put out cake from the little cake house there for the cows. They always were looking for me.
Of course, back then, there were no cell phones, just the quiet of the prairie with a breeze or maybe a strong wind out of the north.
This was through the winter months and yes, there were those times when I got really cold on the back of that hoss especially if I was headed North into a little snow storm or blue norther as we called’um back then. I was happy. It was peaceful, just me and my pony. I knew when I got back to the house that would be pretty much it for the day unless I needed to make repairs on any of my tack or work on something in the shop. The house would be warm and there would be my little girl there with her mom as her older brother was in first grade some 10 miles away in that little village of maybe 1,200 folks or less. Another cup of hot coffee and maybe a “power nap” would get me up and going again. Once again, I had a ranch truck but was not allowed to use it unless I was pulling rods on a windmill or had to go to town for parts or whatever.
It was tough at times but I was a fairly tough hombre like most men are who face those types of challenges each and every day.
I pulled my share of calves, fixed lots of fence and made general repairs there at the ranch and expected no more or less than what I was told I would get. I helped the neighbors when asked and they helped me when I needed help.
I remember on some cold winter nights Martha and the kids and I would jump in our truck and cut across the pasture to the neighboring ranch and play cards and visit with our younger, newly married friends. They need conversation and community as well. Good times, some really good times. I learned how to work by myself depending on the skills I had picked up along the way.
One time I remember when I rode off to feed the cows without realizing there was one dog, one goat and two kittens that were right behind me in the sage brush. I suppose they needed a little community also, but they gave it up and went back to the house in short manner. I would love to be able to be that young man again at times and take hold of the “good times” that were right there in front of me. That job led to the manager’s job I was offered on a bigger ranch with all the perks that I had for the next 10 years while watching my kids become young adults on the back of a good hoss. I remember when and I bet you do as well.
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, hang and rattle if ya find yerself in a bind, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
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