Country & Seasons
Photo by Jeremiah
Jeremiah and Colleen in Texas.
There is no doubt in my mind that the country and its adversities play a large part in the shaping of a mans character. Harsh land does not as one may think form harsh men, but rather it forms up men who are patient and willing to work with what has been dealt them. Men who make thier living out at the wagon in this grand vista that we call America know all to well..............
Photo by Jeremiah Watt
Dugway Canyon Colorado
They know all to well that the land can only serve up so much and in accordance with the season, so we huddle in the cold, we sweat in the sumer heat and bask in automns glory, taking each season , each year in stride.
I have been blessed, as has my wife to have been made welcome on several large ranches in USA, all the places that we sought employment were outfits that ran wagons and spent the season out with the cattle. A typical season would run from beggining of Feb with recieving cattle in and then brand and process the cattle, by first of March we would be ready to take the cattle out to the desert and the first grass of the season. This meant that we had to load up the wagon, get the horses shod, as head our cattle out into the juniper to make our way down the steep canyons into the desert so far below.
We would ride with this group of cattle until fall, trailing them across the desert first then up a little higher into the juniper break country when summers heat burned the desrt grass off. From the junipers we would ride higher into the fringe of scrub Gamble Oaks that belt the mountains highest points, this was miserable country for the cowboys and great for the cattle. Miserable becasue it tore the hell out of your gear, not to mention your own hide, it was difficult at best to know what direction you were going and who was with you on a drive because nobody could see one another. The cattle loved it, they got grass fat in a hurry and wilder than march hares because they figured out all to quickly that we could not keep up to them in the scrub Oaks.
It would be near the end of August and we are ready to move right up to the top of the mountain at some 10K feet in this case, the Aspens were just beginning to turn, before long the Elk would start bugling and heards of cow Elk thier "mewing. The mountain tops are great huge grass filled basins with Aspen, Pine and Fir scattered within, grass is high and cattle fat quickly.By the 15th of September we would begin our gather and ship days, and these would go on for 10-12 days. Each day would start at 3am for the cook and the horse wrangler, and 3:30 for the rest of the crew. The cook would have a full pot of black coffee over the fire and breakfast coming on, the cook tent would be a warm place to hold till the cook was ready. By 4:15 the wrangler would arrive with the horses, for those of us in the tent we could easily anticipate his arrival by the tinkling of the bells that the horses wore. By 4:30 every one would be saddling horses and taking a little air out of the humpy ones if it was needed, and before old man Sun could paint his color on a rock or tree top on the mountain we would be at a long trot out through it tall grass and sage to find our cattle to ship.
The time has come to do a little backriding into the lower country and look for strays before the winter begins, the cattle down low are smart and in small groups, they use the rough country and the heavy tree cover to make a gather difficult, so go back day after day till we have them all. As the daily gather gets to be smaller and smaller, we break up and use binoculars to glass the lower country around water holes that we know of and little grass meadows to look for strays. We spot several groups and form a plan on going back down into the Oaks to make another gather. By now, it is mid October, hunting season has started and winter is trying to lay its icy hands on the mountain top, we are almost gathered and ready to move lower.
BY the 5th to 10th of November my wife and I would be the last to leave, snow would hamper our departure and cold would invade our tee-pee tent no matter how close I held her at night. She and I woulkd trail the 45 horses off of the rim and head for the headquarters....................I will tell you more a little later, for now I need to shut this down.