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#2 Soapweed Ranch Ramblings, March 2, 2017

Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:45 pm
by Soapweed
#2 Soapweed Ranch Ramblings, March 2, 2017

When I was a youngster, growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, my dad ran all Hereford cattle. He raised both registered and commercial Herefords, and our cattle were all born with horns. I don’t think ear tags had even been invented yet in those days. Our registered Hereford cows all got to keep their horns. They were identified with tattoos in their ears, and were number branded on their horns. These branded numbers showed up quite well for the first few years, but as the cows and their horns got older, the numbers tended to blotch and become hard to read. Of course by then we pretty much knew each cow by her looks and personality, and the number was memorized even though it couldn’t be read.

The commercial cows were “muley-maked” (a paste acid to eliminate horn buds) as calves so didn’t have horns, and thus had no identification. That was fine with the cows and their calves, because none of them knew how to read. A cowboy had to have a certain amount of expertise though, because there weren’t corresponding numbered tags to use as cheat sheets. Dad had purchased some additional ranch land from Lester Leach in 1967, and had opportunity to take in some registered Angus for Ralph May of Valentine, Nebraska on a share deal. Angus are naturally polled, but Ralph’s cows were all identified with numbered brass tags which were on neck chains. Occasionally a cow would get her chain tangled up on a windmill or fence post, and it could be exciting dislodging the irate animal from her temporary captive status.

Dad was a very avid Hereford fancier, and he devoured the contents of each monthly magazine published by The American Hereford Association. An ad in one of these magazines captured his attention. Alas, someone had invented plastic ear tags. Dad sent off for the proper number of tags to put in his commercial cows. They were of a very poor design, because there were two parts of the neck of each tag. One part of the neck went up in the front of the ear, and one in the back, and a pin connected the two parts. As you can well imagine, this formed a perfect U shape which just begged to get caught on any and everything. The tags didn’t last long.

Soon better tags were developed. Dad numbered all of his cows, and these tags seemed to stay put. Other ranchers were also experimenting with the new-fangled ear tags, and it was customary for them to give each calf the same number as their mother wore. Dear old Dad thought it took too much time to write the number on the calf tag as they were being born, so he bought ready-made consecutive numbers for his calves. It seems he was running about four hundred cows in those days, so he bought 400 calf tags—numbered 1 through 400. As each calf was born, he put the next number in the calf’s ear. A book had to be kept, as a key to what calf went to what cow. My sister Sybil’s job was to be the book-keeper. When we’d be pairing up, we’d see a likely match-up and then call out the calf’s number to Sybil. She’d look up the number and say “yay” or “nay.” It was a full-fledged hassle. One spring it was a real hassle, because Dad lost his little pocket book, and it was never to be seen again.

Spike Van Cleve from Montana wrote some of his life experiences in two books, FORTY YEARS GATHERINGS and A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT. He mentioned that there were always three ways of doing any given task—there was the easy way; there was the hard way; and there was his dad’s way, which made the hard way look plumb easy.

Re: #2 Soapweed Ranch Ramblings, March 2, 2017

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:04 pm
by mytfarms
Ah, the joys of running cows with Dad. We sorted 28 hard weaned steers the other day to clean the last of our male commercial calves up for sale. Would have thought we sorted 280 through the bickering on how to do it. But fortunately the mind seems to smooth imperfections of the morning into a fond memory of time spent together.

Side note, we are also on the "1-whatever comes last" numbering system here. Heaven help us if the book ever falls out of the pickup on a hay run...

Re: #2 Soapweed Ranch Ramblings, March 2, 2017

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:30 pm
by littlejoe
Many yrs ago, I was bitching to very good bud about working with my Dad.....

He said "Y'know---I ain't got a Dad............."

Re: #2 Soapweed Ranch Ramblings, March 2, 2017

Posted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:43 am
by Faster horses
littlejoe wrote:Many yrs ago, I was bitching to very good bud about working with my Dad.....

He said "Y'know---I ain't got a Dad............."


That right there.....said bunches. :(

Re: #2 Soapweed Ranch Ramblings, March 2, 2017

Posted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:42 am
by Soapweed
littlejoe wrote:Many yrs ago, I was bitching to very good bud about working with my Dad.....

He said "Y'know---I ain't got a Dad............."


Actually, my dad and I got along quite well through the years. We accomplished a lot together, and he aided immensely in my start in the cattle and ranching business. We had a lot of fun together, and had many memorable shared experiences. I miss him, but rejoice knowing he is spending eternity where the grass is tall, the sky is blue, and the water is pure. There are streets of gold when he chooses to go to town. :cboy:

Re: #2 Soapweed Ranch Ramblings, March 2, 2017

Posted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:40 pm
by Shortgrass
FRIENDS
By Clyde Chess

I have known several men I am pleased to call my friend,
There is one among those men – not many stand with him.

We’ve sort of kindred spirits and just see things eye to eye;
Whether aggravated or aggravating, kindred souls don’t die.

We’ve rode the seas, climbed a mountain’s crest, and crossed the prairies like a lawn,
We’ve gone other places too – just where ever friends go, we’ve gone.

We’ve felt mad, glad or sad; many are the feelings that we’ve felt.
We’ve itched and scratched –just whatever friends feel, we’ve felt.

We’ve hunted, fished, and played – oh, gosh, we’ve had our fun.
We’ve hurt, worked and sweat; all the things friends do we’ve done.

He’s said “I’m wrong” or “I’m right, you’re crazy in the head!”
Or “I’m sorry,” “I love ya,” the things friends will say, he’s said.

We’ve spent hours together, not a word between this friend and me;
We were just quietly content to be in each others company.

We may have climbed a mountain trail, and I’d be falling back
He’d just wait till I caught up, then onward track in track.

Or maybe I would be up there in the lead,
And I’d wait on him, and then together, we’d proceed.

His trail took him to town, and there is a country place on mine;
Though our trails are different, they have always intertwined

Every boy needs a friend like the special friend I had;
I didn’t call him “friend,” I just called him “Dad.”

Lots of thing changed as getting older gave way to being old.
It was hard as the years came and went, and each one took it’s toll.

But some things never change—it’s the same for all of time.
You can chisel this in stone, “My dad was a friend of mine.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That said, we did do things dad's way, and it wasn't always easy. I have tagged calves consecutively, and matched the number later, and my kids might have written this story!

Re: #2 Soapweed Ranch Ramblings, March 2, 2017

Posted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:09 pm
by Big Muddy rancher
Good poem Shortgrass,

My Dad is 94, I have coffee with him twice a day, he makes it.
Until a couple years ago before he had a bit of a "spell" he would help me sort calves, throw hay in the bunk and ride along to hop out and get the gates on a trip through the pasture.
We could sort and work cattle all day together, and still be friends at night.
I feel pretty lucky to have his presence in my life this long.