Too old now to cowboy
Tales From the O-No Ranch
Mad Jack Hanks
Last evening I was the guest speaker, or entertainer if you wish, for the local Larimer County Stock Growers Association. I hadn’t done a banquet in a number of years but this one was close and I knew many of the folks that would be there. Oh, and to the em cee, I apologize for jumping the gun on my introduction. Let’s blame it on old age, okay? Before the meeting started I was just looking at all of the younger folks and that’s anyone under 60 for me. The crowd was large and folks were milling and visiting with neighbors and friends. I wound up with four young ladies in their early 20s sitting with me which made me feel a little better about maybe being the oldest guy or close to it in the building. It started a flood of memories of past years when I was one of these younger men with my wife at a function somewhere and how I just never considered that I would be this old guy some day.
Earlier in the day, I had watched a short video on Facebook of a feller by the name of “Boots” O’Neil who was saddling his horse to ride out with the cowboy crew. Well, after all, he was only 87 and had worked for the famous 6666 ranch there in Texas for a good part of his life. I was a little ashamed of myself for draggin’ around the yoke of “too old now to cowboy,” Truth is, I am too old to cowboy, heck I have a hard time just gettin’ on my horse anymore. “Boots” on the other hand seemed no worse for the wear. In fact, all those years of “cowboyin’ may have kept him in the shape he is in today. I thought about ol’ Lester Byrd who I worked with on the L X Ranch North of Amarillo for a short period in my earlier years. Lester was 86 if memory serves me correctly and he had been a cowboy’s cowboy in his day or so I was told. Lester let his mounting stirrup down in order to mount his little paint horse. I think I will try that next time I ride.
It made my heart happy to see all those good folks gathered for one purpose, promote beef. Teach the public that you just don’t go down to the store and buy beef unless someone has labored and sacrificed to make it easy for you to do.
It’s those guys like Tom Blasingame at age 91 (I’m not sure of that but I’m close) that they found dead out in the pasture where he had ridden from his camp to check his cows. Tom, Boots and ol’ Lester were the kind of men that I doubt ever worried about getting too old to “cowboy.” They just did what they always did and I could see last night that there were young men and women there with the same goal.
During my foolishness there was one time when I needed to get down on one knee to tell this particular story in a meaningful way. I warned the crowd that I might need some help getting back up. Ha, ha, ha! Well, gentle readers, when it came time for me to get back up I listed a little to the right but managed to regain my feet. Well, after all when you’ve been sitting for a long time your legs might not be working just right. Right? No, Mad Jack, the truth is nothing works like it did just a few years back and for sure not like when you were that “working ranch cowboy” with no fear for of getting old! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, let yer stirrup down if ya just have too and I’ll c. y’all, all Y’all. ❖