The first real daywork check I ever earned was from Ratcliff Ranch. I worked there quite a bit when it was a yearling operation.
Jimmy Lowery was a full-timer living at the Blue Ribbon then and my buddy Curtis Capps was a full-time dayworker. Jimmy’s dad Jack and I worked at the salebarn together and we ended up dayworking a lot there,too.
The ranch had 1200 heifers on pasture across from Bunker Hill church. There were no pens. Setting up a portable deal to get them on the trucks was going to be a mess. The heifers needed to go to the Cressap where there were scales and shipping pens. It was about 12 miles across the ranches. Finally it was decided we would drive them.
We had a lot of good help. Butch Richardson was the strawboss back then (yes that is Chance’s daddy). He is a good cowboy and was a good boss, but he knew what he wanted and how he expected you to do it. He could get a little testy if things didn’t go that way.
The ranch owned a stout bay horse named Brown Jug and he was a dandy. Butch rode him all the time. It didn’t matter what you needed to do from roping to sorting, Brown Jug was good for it. He would go anywhere and I would have thought he wasn’t scared of anything.
Some time after dinner we got to a place where there was no gate between section line pastures, so we kicked the cattle out on the section line road.
By now Kevin McGlasson had several head in the trailer that just quit. We were only about four miles from the Cressap.
Jack, Curtis and I had been riding the drags all day. Two or three hundred of the heifers had dropped a ways behind the main herd. They were fat, black and covered in long fescue hair. We were having to push pretty hard to keep them moving.
We came to a road intersection and there was a travel trailer someone had obviously been living in for awhile. It had various little pens made from lumber pallets and tin. There was quite a bit of treasure scattered around the yard.
When the heifers got about even with the trailer homestead, three big peacocks came around the corner with tails spread bigger than any of the old commercials for NBC TV.
The heifers that could barely move got new life and a second wind. Even on three good horses, we’d have spilled them if there hadn’t been a fence on each side of the road.
We finally got them started back in the right direction and they were pretty knotted up, so the peacocks retreated.
Butch was coming to us at a high lope.
“I don’t know what you lollygaggers are doing back here, but pretty soon you won’t even be in sight of the herd,” he yelled.
Butch was riding as close to the fence as possible to stay out of our herd and pretty soon he rode right into the travel trailer yard. The peacocks came around the corner, tails fully spread and making that noise they do that sounds like a baby bobcat.
Brown Jug quit the scene. I’ve rarely seen any horse spin that fast. If Butch had been less a rider, he’d never have stayed with him. Brown Jug got a pretty good start on a run away. When Butch got him gathered, he just sat where he was.
We drove our skittish heifers by. As we passed him he said “when we get back off the road up there, we’ll hold the bunch so you can catch up.” I noticed something I had never seen Butch do before…he was holding his saddlehorn.
Being the cowboy way, none of us said a word. Butch loped on back to the bunch.
We rode a ways and finally Jack said, “boy, Brown Jug sure ain’t peacock broke.”

8 thoughts on “A cattle drive story

  1. Butch probably thought, { It is better to remain silent and appear a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt} good story Kathy always enjoy reading them.

  2. Clyde the big grey I roped bulls on was scared to death of ostriches,they had em at Adair wind song rodeo and penned em on the back end and we bought got smoked 2 of 3 times I couldn’t make him watch the bulls at all

  3. I read your stories at the office and laugh, everyone says ” What is so funny” I say ” You would have to experience it to understand” thanks for the laugh

  4. I just finished this with your brother , we both had great laugh, glad to c what finally spilled out. Can hardly wait to hear the next story,

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