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UNPLANNED ADVENTURE OF A YOUNG RANCH WIFE By Kay Wolfenden – October 10, 2020

Soapweed

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My friend, Kay Wolfenden, recently told me this story. I suggested she write it down for the sake of posterity, and here is her “glowing” account:



UNPLANNED ADVENTURE OF A YOUNG RANCH WIFE

By Kay Wolfenden – October 10, 2020


Sometime in the early 1970’s, I was sent on the long road from our ranch to Valentine to pick up some repairs and was told, “Don’t tarry!” Following the instructions I had been given, I headed for home after getting the parts.



West of Gerry Beel’s ranch on 16B, I began to smell smoke. Being concerned about a prairie fire, I stopped at the Kennedy School to ask the teacher if she had heard anything about a fire anywhere. She hadn’t heard of any, but came outside to check. “Oh my, it’s really strong,” she said of the smoke smell.



The teacher and I couldn’t see a fire anywhere, but the smell of smoke was very strong so she went to call the neighbors. Gordon McLeod and Harry Piercy both had airplanes and could check for signs of fire from the air. Meanwhile I continued on west towards home smelling smoke all the way.



Further on along the road, I came upon Dick Bell. He worked on the Jim Ravenscroft ranch and was feeding a stack of loose hay with six head of draft horses. Pulling alongside him, I asked if he knew where the fire was. Removing his pipe from his mouth, he replied, “Hell, yes, lady! It’s in the back of your pickup! Get over to the windmill!”



Somewhere along the way, the muffler on my pickup had come loose and turned upwards toward the bottom of the wooden pickup box. The wood had been smoldering for miles. This had been the source of the smoke smell the entire time.



Mr. Bell met me at the windmill. “I don’t suppose you’ve got a damn thing to hold water,” he observed. Crying with embarrassment I told him, “I don’t know.” He ended up using his felt cowboy hat to scoop water out of the tank to put out the smoldering wood. Getting the source of the smoke doused, he to me, “Git on home, and have the guys do something about that muffler!”



Arriving home I immediately went to the shop and told my husband what had happened. How embarrassed I was! I asked my husband LeRoy if he would call the neighbors and let them know the “fire” was out. Feeling that the neighbors would want to hear about the “fire” from me personally, he let me make the phone calls myself.



My first call was to Gordon McLeod. I was so embarrassed to tell him the source of smoke had been in the back of my pickup the entire time. Gordon kindly reassured me how glad he was that all was well and I was okay. As kind as he was, all I wanted was to get off the phone. I was so embarrassed!



Next I called Harry Piercy. Upon hearing my explanation of the smoke smell, Mr. Piercy burst out laughing and declared if they were ever in need of excitement in the country, they could just call me. He would remind me of the “fire” throughout the years, never letting me live it down.



The road to town has changed for the better, and pickup boxes are now made out of metal, but the memories of neighbors and days gone by bring joy to my heart and a smile to my face. All these years later I can now laugh about the young ranch wife and her unplanned adventure.
 

Big Muddy rancher

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Great story, I've checked out many smoke sources and always happy when I didn't find a fire.

I did have one when the spear grass packed under a vehicle and all I had was a water jug to try and douse it.
 

Faster horses

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The ranch we leased in the 60's was part of a bigger ranch company, made up of 3 ranches. The owners lived in Iowa, so our dealings were with the President, or maybe he was the vice-president, I'm not sure. He lived in the same town in WY as we did and he leased one of the 3 ranches. He had bought a brand-new Jeep Cherokee with a catylatic converter. He was out checking on cattle late one summer, when he stopped for some reason and left the Jeep running. This had been a pretty good grass year and the catylatic converter caught the dry grass on fire. Catylatic converters were a new thing then, but what a lesson. Of course, cell phones weren't around then and he got pretty soot-stained trying to put the fire out himself, before the rural fire department arrived. From then on, to this day, we don't stop and tarry in a vehicle when the grass is dry.

I must say this same President, or VP/rancher helped several young families get started on their own in the ranching business.
 

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